I've been considering how banks can leverage social media sites recently, and was not that surprised when looking further that there is very little 'bank' presence in these areas.
Having just read the article on LloydsTSB and the launch of their "create an avatar" contest, I thought I'd jump straight back over to their Facebook page to see what the bank were doing - expecting great things. Sadly - in my view - they have a Facebook
presence only for the purpose of their avatar contest, although their page does allow you to browse what other people have submitted.
So why does there appear to be a reticence for banks to better engage with their customers over sites such as Facebook?
There are two main concerns that I've heard in relation to this - a lot of banks don't want a site where their customers can broadcast their [perceived] grievances, and why would a customer want to share their finances with their friends?
This, I feel, is somewhat missing the point. Banks in general should be as accessible to their customers as possible - wherever their customer is "connected to the cloud", the bank should be able to engage with them.
This doesn't necessarily mean a Facebook page where dirty laundry might be exposed, but could mean an application hosted within Facebook. This would remain within the control of the bank (including extended security), and would allow the bank to have a one-on-one
dialogue with customers over a channel that many of their target-demographics spend a considerable amount of time in front of.
The below example allows the bank to push real-time alerting out to the customer, offers a quick-glance health-check of accounts (based upon average balance reporting, amongst other things), as well as being able to dive-in further to initiate transactions.
It also affords the bank the opportunity to post to the customer's "wall" with timely context-sensitive messages (but being careful not to 'spam').
Key to this, is that it is private - it is a channel offered only between the bank and the customer, and is not able to be shared with any of the wider community within the site.
Social doesn't have to mean shared.