We love to hate things. Taxi drivers, for example. Cellphone providers. But mostly we like to hate our banks. Bank hatred is a national sport, especially on a platform that lends itself to venting so well: Social media. So when a bank starts to come across as likeable, you pay attention. First National Bank (FNB) is one such bank, gaining considerable kudos for its social media policies.
So, what is FNB doing right in social media — and what can others learn from it?
Of all of these factors, Jordaan is the most differentiating — and also the hardest to replicate. Jordaan clearly has an intuitive feel for social media, and that’s not true for many (if not most) senior management. He claims to spend around 20 minutes a day on Twitter responding to mentions of FNB. As he wrote in the Mail & Guardian, Twitter “is a forum for chatting about the rugby, sharing my passion for good wine, revelling in a good one-liner or an aphorism about my line of work”. People can tell that he’s having fun, and we like him all the more for it.
That said, could others follow FNB’s example? Yes — provided they’re willing to invest in the resources needed to do it well. Lana Strydom has the following advice for other brands:
“The development of processes and tools that make access to information possible across an organisation is critical, as customers expect super fast turnaround on the social media queries,” says Strydom.
How scalable is FNB’s approach to social media? Will it be manageable as more and more customers come online? FNB does fulfil three of the criteria for a successful social media approach by an organisation: It has invested the appropriate resources, reorganised its customer service support systems to provide quicker responses, and it has demonstrated buy-in from the top.
Once a good system is in place, it’s relatively easy to expand it, and more resources can always be brought on board. But it’s not so easy to replicate a CEO who loves to tweet.
This is working like a charm now. But what happens when one billion people are tweeting, or rather most of the bank’s customers? A danger may be that customers will come to expect Jordaan to respond to everything — and be disappointed when he can’t… The man does have a bank to run after all.
FNB is not perfect by any means (one look at the complaints on its Facebook page will tell you that much). But no brand gets social media right all the time: The challenge with this kind of communication is that it’s a moving target, always evolving. I do know this much: I’m not happy with my current bank, and when I move my account, I won’t consider any brand other than FNB.
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