Banks and Social Media: Do You Trust Social Banking?

I have spent almost a month in Europe, and besides enjoying my time with family and friends, studying for my MBA class, and following the Twitter Olympics in London, it is impossible to ignore the economic situation in Europe and especially the recent news related to the bank scandal in the UK.

Banksters” was featured in July on the “The Economist”, dealing with the Libor price-fixing scandal started with Barclays Bank, and which is spreading on banks around Europe and beyond. Public’s trust in banks has been very low, and now things are getting even worse.  A recent survey in UK showed that “nearly two thirds of the banking customers no longer trust their lender to look after their money”.

The whole banking industry is facing a reputation crisis. This is not a new issue to us, and as J.P. Morgan junior said in 1933 “The banker must at all times conduct himself so as to justify the confidence of his clients in him,” That trust has been forfeited: it must be regained.  I don’t think J.P. Morgan would have predicted that one day trust in banks may be regained thanks to Social Media.

Though banks are still lacking behind social media and are slow in embracing them, retail banks nowadays “to retain their competitive edge, (…) need to reach out to younger, more Web-savvy customers (we call them Generation C, or the Connected Generation), devising new products and services that are simpler and more transparent, and using the power of social networking and other digital platforms to improve their marketing.” (, 2011).

The time has come for banks to embrace Social Media to solve both their reputation problems and their delay in social technologies adoption.

BNL bank has gone social: the way to trust restoration and …more money?

from the BNL website

from the BNL website

At the beginning of July one of Italy’s biggest banks, BNL (Group BNP Paribas) announced the implementation of a new social media strategy to overcome the following challenges that they were facing as a bank:

  • Engage in conversations with customers;
  • Rebuild brand perception;
  • Increase customer satisfaction;
  • Rebuild customer trust and loyalty;
  • …and ultimately generate new revenue streams.

To overcome these challenges BNL has adopted a people centric approach, and BNL’s people are: customers, prospects, employees and job applicants.

BNL is not new to Social Media: in February 2010 it has gone live with a BNL Tennis, as an aggregator during its sponsorship campaign to the International Tennis Championships in Italy. Today BNL has four active Facebook pages with a total of over 62500 fans:

  • BNL EduCare provides financial education resources for family banking or businesses;
  • BNL Job is the talent recruiting Facebook page connecting future job applicants;
  • BNL per Telethon supports the Telethon fundraising program;
  • BNL People, which has been launched in July 2012, is the new open conversation channel between BNL and its people and also directly connected to BNL’s customer support.

BNL is using also the twitter handles @BNLPeople and @BNLJob, and its youtube channel. The next step would be to create dedicated Facebook pages for banking products like mortgages, saving accounts, loans where the conversation topics are more focused and where BNL plans to realize revenues.

The Facebook pages and the twitter handles help also drive traffic to BNL People’s website, dedicated to storytelling and youtube clips about BNL’s employees’ and manager’s passions: the goal of this communication strategy is to show the “human side” of banking. The key message is that BNL is made by “real people like you” and not by “banksters”, with the goal to restore trust. As a social media professional I like this strategy, but how many would question the authenticity of these messages?

Social banking: more Risks than ROI?

Considering that BNL has more than 2.5 million customers the participation on the BNL People page is still very low (5.668 fans on 08/05/2012, 0.23%). No information about BNL’s social media budget has been disclosed, but will the Social Media investment pay off? Or would BNL customers rather prefer lower banking fees? How many customers would actually engage with social banking?

Still Facebook as a platform itself needs to prove to be able to monetize BNL’s investment. For sure BNL has designed a very detailed long term strategy, and is launching out new tools when the audience is ready, but not all banking customers are active social media consumers, like the C-generation.

Another issue is the time factor: people like me would to spend their available on line time on Facebook socializing with friends rather than socializing with banks and brands!

I believe that BNL has a great social media strategy, but the conversation with the people has to stay always open and authentic to be trustworthy, or trust in social media gets lost, too!

Would you trust Social Banking?


References are available on this page

9 thoughts on “Banks and Social Media: Do You Trust Social Banking?

  1. Great post, I think this for good banks and especially small banks is the way to go for salvation, redemption, acceptance and love in the communities they serve.

    • Thank you! I like your reply…the way to go for salvation and redemption! It would be great if banks run their business in the real and selfless interest for its customers! Utopia?

  2. Awesome post, Linda–great research. Amazing that with all the social media and connectedness we have, we (or the Europeans) still have to be worried that our money might not be where we left it. Will be interesting to see how these social media initiatives pay off for the banks. Seems like open communication and transparency can only help!

  3. my bank is actually on the social media band wagon and I use the app almost everyday! I use it to check my accounts, pay bills, and transfer money to places if i need to. It really is the best thing that has happened and saves me the 20 minute trip to the actual location.

  4. This is a great post… lots of important information that explains a lot about the banking industry and what they are doing with social media tools to increase interests in using online banking features for businesses and personal use. It seems like most online trust issues today there has to be some sort of YouTube video that can be added on these sites with real people expressing how safe it is to use these functions with online banking. Social media tools such as YouTube may be a benefit in the long run with visual expressions and advertising the safe and security of online banking.

  5. Thank you!!
    ALso for me it was an interesting discovery to see how the banking industry deals with social media to gain trust back from its customers. I really hope that this trust will not be betrayed!

  6. Pingback: 2012 in review and happy blogging in 2013! « Social Media Open Kitchen

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