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Friday, 15 October 2010

Eeny, meany, miny, mo...

Choosing digital channels has become increasingly complex in the past few years, with so many platforms to operate from and limited budget and resource brands are spending a huge amount of time calculating where best to reside. Earlier this week Brian Solis released Version 3 of the conversation prism which further underlines the sudden explosion of potential channels you as a brand could be using.

For those new to the market, undoubtedly the choice (whether correct or not) has been, whether to plump for Facebook or Twitter and this week two sets of figures emerged. The first from Visible Banking unveiled the most popular banks by Facebook fans, revealing that in the UK Barclays and RBS were out front by a long way. Interestingly while their Facebook presence is solid, their Twitter activity is far less co-ordinated. Around the same time it was revealed that in the US 45% of asset management companies had a social media presence, but it is evidenced that there is more engagement activity through Twitter and less so on Facebook.

So what? Well a couple of interesting pieces emerged this week that pointed to the future value of Twitter versus Facebook as a sales channel. Forrester research suggested that Twitter followers had a 37% propensity to purchase from the brands they followed as opposed to 21% on Facebook. This is a stark difference, but given the comparable numbers of users Facebook is still going to win out on sheer volume alone, in terms of its ability to drive leads. All of this has to be contextualied however, following a statement from Twitter's departing CEO, Ev Williams who stated, that the Twitter user base has the potential to reach 1 billion users. That number puts a different veneer on the scale of opportunity for brands.

Frankly, at the bottom of this social mountain we have begun to climb the message has to be - keep testing. See what works, invest more in that area and then keep on testing. There's nothing to say that either of these platforms will even be recognisable in 5 years time so there's little point in watching and waiting it’d be better to get involved and see where it takes you.

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

Thursday, 7 October 2010

ASB New Zealand opens first Facebook bank branch in the world

Three weeks ago ASB in New Zealand opened the doors (or whatever you term the online equivalent, launched I guess) to Facebook's first online bank branch. We blogged some months back about the potential for Facebook to become a major player in banking services and what ASB have done is recognise that potential and faced it head on, moving their services on to the social network. It's a brave move but one that was inevitable.

Last week we tried the branch out. It's a very simple service. At its heart it's an online chat interface built directly into Facebook. There are a selection of advisers to choose to talk to, all of whom are named and photographed individuals, to increase the person to person appeal that is the hallmark of social networking and you are able to choose from those available to chat.

We spoke to Elysse to find out how the launch was going? She was friendly, personable and very knowledgable and stated there had been considerable interest in the service. Although ASB are at present unable to offer services to those overseas, she said they had had considerable contact from New Zealand travellers who were able to sort out their issues quickly and easily through Facebook.

We went on to have a brief Twitter chat with Anna Curzon the General Manager, Internet Banking for ASB who confirmed the interest

That second statement really underlines the point of introducing this branch concept in to Facebook. In a time impoverished and globalised environment brands need to be in the places their customers are. Financial services brands are definitely behind the curve in following that trend, but ASB has made a huge step forward.

While the services through the ASB Facebook branch are currently limited the mere fact that they are there speaks volumes for their foresight and ambition. This is a bold first move and we’re sure it will be the first of many. We will keep an eye on whether ASB benefits from first mover advantage.

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital