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First Direct leading the social finance mainstream

For over four years, since Facebook first appeared on my radar, I've been waiting for a UK bank to really get into social media.  There have been a few attempts but nothing really mainstream.  For example, the Co-operative launched a MySpace site for Good with Money and Barclaycard did some good things, but most was a gimmick or poorly delivered. 

Generally however, UK banks are reticent when it comes to blogs, podcasts, interaction and Web 2.0.

Finally, for the first time, one gets it.

First Direct.

First Direct launched their social media newsroom in June this year …

First Direct newsroom 

and they've been on Twitter since April 27th …

First Direct twitter
and have 464 followers and 168 tweets as of today.

So it's great to see them launch a truly open dialogue in their Live area, which was announced in the newsroom yesterday.

"We wanted to give our customers the opportunity to talk back and let us know how they really feel about us.  With this in mind we recently launched our new acquisition campaign – "Live". 
It works by taking everything that's said about us online, from over 8
million forums, blogs and social media sites, and then feeding it,
live, onto our website
www.firstdirect.com/live for all to see.  At the same time we also launched Talking Point – a section where customers can leave a message for us."

Viewing the Live home page, you get some nice commentary to encourage you to dialogue:

First Direct 

and it clearly highlights some of the positive views:

First Direct_1

as well as the negative:

First Direct1 

In fact they clearly demonstrate how positive or negative customers are being overall:

Frist Direct_2

with + signs for positive and – for negative floating up and down the home page, in real-time we assume …

First Direct2 

So hats off to First Direct for being at the forefront of UK financial social media.  In fact, a real hats off as you can find all of this easily from their home page:

First Direct home page 

as, being Mr. Cynical, some would think this would be hidden away in some microsite somewhere.

Only a bank voted consistently number one by independent surveys would have such confidence to do this of course.

And, just as a reality check, I thought I should see if any other UK bank had a blog, twitter link or anything on their home page to demonstrate social interactivity.

Lloyds TSB?


No blog or anything.




No podcasts or anything there on the home page.

Barclays Bank seemed to be better as, on their homepage they have a clear area prompting customers to ask a question:


so I thought I would search for where's their blog?


Can't find the answer?  Contact us. 

UK banks generally don't offer anything social on their internet prescence today: no Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Podcast or even interactive live chat.

It does confirm that banks don't want to interact with customers online … only on the telephone or in branch.

At least First Direct is demonstrating some leadership here and it will be interesting to see how their service develops as the first UK bank to be in the forefront of this space … a bit like they were the first UK bank to lead the telephone banking revolution.


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About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.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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