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Bank social networks only work if banks butt out

Great example here of social media websites that
rock, according to mashable.com.

 

Of the 35 corporate websites chosen, including Blendtec (my favourite),
Cisco, Coca-Cola, Dell, Ford, IBM, Marriott, McDonalds, the New York Times,
Starbucks, Toyota and Xerox, three financial firms make the lists:

 

  • HSBC, for their UK Business Network;
  • Visa, for their Facebook Business Network; and
  • Wells Fargo, for their targeted blogs.

 

All well and good, and HSBC, Visa and Wells Fargo should
be proud.

 

Or should they?

 

Another website, readwriteweb.com, posted a story last week saying that corporate social
networks are a waste of money. As cited in their story, the Wall Street Journal reports that corporate social networks
have less than 100 members in 35% of cases, and only a quarter exceed 1,000
members.

 

Certainly the lack of members is true for HSBC and
Visa, where I found no members and only seven guests online with the former, and a total of 686 fans of the latter. And
these things look quite expensive.

 

The problem maybe that these networks are very heavily corporately
branded. Corporate networks only work if they are social, not if they are
heavily corporately branded (discussed in depth in other websites, such as the
Marketing & Strategy Innovation blog). And I totally agree therefore with the view of the readwriteweb:

 

Social
networks, where a brand name product is what everyone rallies around, are a dumb
idea. They are stupid. No one should submit themselves to the indignity of
creating a user profile and friend connections based on cola or cat
litter.”

 

This is why I much prefer Fortis’s Join2Grow, as
the branding is not there. You may then wonder: what’s the point?  Well
the point is that, if the network works, then the community will find your
brand and applaud it.  For example, Fortis’s brand is there if you want to
find it, checkout the bottom left hand corner of the homepage.

 

That’s
the secret for corporate social networks.  Build first for the
network and second for the brand.

 

This is exemplified by Bank of America’s Small Business Community website which, when it started, looked very similar to HSBC’s. Bank of America branding all over it.
Today, however, it looks much more like Fortis’s Join2Grow website and just has
a little ‘powered by Bank of America’ in the top right hand corner.

 

The core of this is that corporate social networks
only work if the corporation butts out and lets the people network.

 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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