No More Ivory Towers Learn From a Bank That Understands Social Media Westvyne MarketingBy now we all know about Bank of America’s U-turn on its prior decision to start charging monthly debit card fees. After the uproar on Facebook, Twitter, and sites such as, big banks got a big wake-up call (or at least yet another wake-up call) about the social nature of business today. Businesses who think they can’t do social media because there are “privacy restrictions” and “sensitive information” issues need to figure out how they are going to get around these issues really fast.

The banking industry is one of the last hold-outs against truly embracing customer engagement online. Certainly, many banks are using social media, and many more are making plans to do so, but the gap is still apparent. Go to the websites of Bank of America or Chase and see if you can find any social media links. Both do have a social media presence, but you have to do some hunting (and in Chase’s case, you have to know that their Community Giving Project, explained below, exists).

In a recent report by Amplicate, a social media analytics company, 83{a1e4dbad5b5db674abcd08880e44cddfd507140ecbeb8646296ad08a1acb49a4} of the online sentiments about major US and European banks were negative over a recent 12-month period. That’s a lot of negativity begging to be turned around by creative customer engagement! Criticism is occuring whether or not banks choose to get involved in social media.

The U.S. has a few examples of financial institutions that are using social media creatively. American Express and Foursquare teamed up to give Am Ex cardholders discounts when they check in with Foursquare at participating merchants such as Sports Authority and H&M. The Chase Community Giving Project on Facebook has over 3 million fans and encourages people to suggest their favorite charities and vote for up to 10 charities to receive funding.

Both American Express and Chase have seen some great activity and engagement with people through their efforts in social media. However, it’s a non-U.S. bank, Standard Chartered, that really seems to be getting it right. Based out of Singapore, their online banking division, Standard Chartered’s Breeze, has been innovating to the point that they are considered one of the leading banks in the international mobile banking arena. Indeed, in the last two years, they have added over a million new active online banking customers.

Here are some of the social media-integrated campaigns that Standard Chartered has launched:

The Wishlist: Standard Chartered developed a Wish List application, where customers enter the things they are saving up for and then apply funds to each item as their savings grows. Customers can link to Facebook to tell their friends about what they are saving for and when they have enough to make the purchase.

Inmode: They partnered with a Frog Design, a marketing firm, to implement an international design competition. Its theme was “Design to Change the World” and they were deluged with submissions. The most popular designs were the first thing that users saw when they logged in to Breeze, Standard Chartered’s mobile banking app. The top winner received a cash prize and an internship with Frog Design.

The World’s Coolest Intern: Standard Chartered launched a hunt for a social-and-all-things-media intern. The winner received a 6-month internship and $30,000, so as you can imagine, they had no shortage of applicants, many of whom were very highly¬†qualified.

Breeze Living: Their iPhone app allows customers to access location-based coupons, special offers and even a customizable social networking platform called Tribe.

Every industry is being affected by how social media is changing company/customer engagement. Standard Chartered’s efforts to encouarge customer input and provide helpful tools has greatly increased their market share in the last two years. They may be in the mobile banking space, yes, but smartphones aren’t going anywhere and new account holders are the young twenty-somethings who expect their banks to give them convenience and listen. And, yes, the campaigns I’ve described above generally appeal to the “younger” generation. However, the next generation sees social media as a gateway to conduct daily activities, and banks can capitalize on that to connect and build a community. The same applies to virtually any industry.