Banking on social networks

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Online payment and transactions are passé. Banks in India are finding newer ways of utilising the digital space to connect with consumers, and the latest trend is that of holding online contests. Moreover, with India having the world’s second highest number of Facebook users, the platform provides immense opportunities for even the Banking industry to cash in on its wide reach.

However, the question arises on the end objective of such initiatives. Is this an effort on the part of banks to expand consumer base or establish a different brand equity in the cluttered market? Pitch finds out.

YES Bank recently launched an entertainment quiz called ‘Saat ka Sikander’ on Facebook. The contest asks participants to answer seven questions related to movies, which have the number ‘seven’ in its title. There is also a system of online voting to select the winner. The participant with maximum votes and correct answers will win a Blackberry Smartphone.

Unfolding the mystery behind number seven, Anindya Datta, President & Chief Marketing Officer, YES Bank, says, “Post de-regulation of interest rate on savings accounts, YES Bank was the first Bank to provide a superior interest rate of seven per cent per annum on savings account. The campaign on the social media is a natural extension to this offering for creating greater awareness of our seven per cent per cent offering on savings account.”

Anindya Datta

Anindya Datta, President & Chief Marketing Officer, YES Bank

The aim of this innovative contest is to establish multiple objectives of engagement with customers and prospects that fosters awareness for the brand. It simultaneously builds awareness about the bank’s seven per cent interest rate offering on the savings account. “Accordingly, we planned this contest where we ask seven questions, based on movies, which use the number ‘seven’ in its title,” Datta adds.

According to YES bank’s annual report, it has a vision of establishing 900 branches, 2000 ATMs, Rs 125,000 crore deposit base, Rs 100,000 crore loan book and Rs 150,000 crore balance sheet size by 2015.

Not only YES Bank but IDBI Bank has also launched a quiz contest on Facebook based around the Olympic Games 2012 called ‘The Olympia Trivia Contest’.  IDBI Bank is using the social media platform to engage its TG in a quiz, where participants have to answer questions to test their knowledge on the biggest sports event this year.  The participant can check the scores at the end of the quiz and compare scores among their friends. This gives social media enthusiasts an opportunity to test their skills and network.

Why has social media suddenly become an important platform for banks? Is it being used as a platform to communicate, reach and relate to the customer or just another marketing gimmick to make the brand’s presence felt?

Datta says that today Facebook is the third largest country in the world. Therefore one has to agree that it’s not just Banks but even companies that are looking at a 360 degree campaign cannot ignore the social media. “With growing literacy, increasing number of consumers on to the net, encouraged by multiple connectivity options, social media has emerged as one of the important mediums of communication.”

To stay ahead of the curve YES Bank claims to be the first in the financial services in India to have its own social media presence through Facebook and Twitter accounts. Datta says that the bank has used social media as an innovative tool to engage with its stakeholders – customers and prospects. “For us the social media serves multiple objectives of information dissemination, seeking feedback on products and services complaints and suggestions to run innovative campaigns that foster awareness for the brand,” he appends.

With respect to trends in Bank marketing, within the industry as well as at YES Bank, the focus is on conveying the efficacies and USPs of the product or a specific service, rather than earlier campaigns, which tried to encompass multiple facets of the Bank. Datta adds that from an umbrella branding approach, the focus is shifting to specific product and services marketing that are targeted at specific consumer groups. There is an increasing preference towards engagement led, activation and BTL strategies.

Similar to this approach IDBI Bank has created a quiz application on their official Facebook Page where the participants have to first register and then participate. This method not only makes the user go through the offerings of the bank but also make his/her friends participate in the quiz, hence, expanding the target audience.

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