Last week the UK's Cooperative Bank rolled out a well constructed social marketing campaign. Designed to use social platforms to amplify the voice of customer advocates, the campaign was the very epitome of good social media marketing practice.
The bank promoted a tweet about Georgie, a Co-op Bank business customer, who had said something nice previously about the bank on Twitter, so they captured her story in a video which was over on Youtube, if you just followed the link. The same content was
surfaced on the bank's Facebook page too.
So far, so much textbook good practice social media technique. In fact, the video was very well executed. Down-to-earth, no nonsense Georgie tells her story in an engaging manner that should work for other SMBs (to use the audience marketing jargon).
One can imagine that over at the Social Media Command Centre, they were hoping to push back and nurture conversations about helping small businesses and the like.
Unfortunately the campaign kicked off a bunch of altogether more vitriolic conversations – scroll down to take a look (but not if you are easily offended). Or look at @TheCooperative on Twitter for the tweet and full conversation.
Doubtless, the marketing manager behind the campaign, must soon have felt like they had firmly grasped a new role as the lightning rod responsible for absorbing all the high voltage angst being generated among all the customers of the bank.
In the context of executing a social marketing campaign, I'm not sure the Co-op did much wrong here (maybe promoting the tweet rather than leaving it to natural RTing was the spark that enflamed the responses?).
But as a case study, it is a reminder that: just doing social media isn't going to fix the wider reputational issues, or the customer experience deficit, that most banks currently confront. Banks need strategies to resolve these issues far more urgently
than they need strategies for new social channels.
It also explains why the next time I can't find my bank on my social network of choice, its probably because the manager responsible has wisely decided that discretion is a much better long term career option, for now at least, than becoming a lightning
rod for the shortcomings of the whole organization.