Banks tap social networks to target youth market

Banks tap social networks to target youth market

Financial services firms exploring the use of Web 2.0 technologies are looking to 'social media' channels - such as myspace and youtube - to connect with new customer markets, and in particular the youth market.

Dutch bank ING Direct, for instance, has launched a viral video marketing campaign that promotes its new 'orange mortgage' to renters and potential first time home buyers.

The backbone of the campaign is a new Web site which features content, video clips and games. ING says the site also features a hidden secret mortgage offer that effectively reduces the closing costs on the mortgage to zero.

ING says the campaign is designed to reach first time home buyers through creative, interactive activities and links with other Internet destinations most familiar to the majority of the audience.

These innovations will enable customers to share their experience with their friends, says ING Direct, which has seeded its short films on viral video sites like youtube and established links from leading online gaming sites to its own video games.

Bill Higgins, head of lending services, ING Direct, says: "We expect the viral nature of the campaign will raise newfound awareness, reaching our core customers in environments to which they are most familiar and shining a brighter light on a compelling offer."

Canada's Windsor's Motor City Community Credit Union is also working to establish a presence on channels such as MySpace in a bid to target younger people.

The credit union has set up a profile site intended to give young people a forum to learn about and discuss financial issues.

Research group Gartner said in August that banks should monitor emerging Internet social networks for their potential for partnerships to offer services within the network or to create non-traditional distribution channels by dealing with customers one-to-one.

Financial services firms should also use Web 2.0 applications - such as wikis, podcasts and blogs - to deliver personalised information to customers and for cross-enterprise collaboration, said Gartner.

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