Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Few private Indian Banks have presence on Social Media

Some of the Indian Banks are effectively using social networking sites to listen and engage with customers that will help them in improving their marketing focus & target customers effectively, capturing consumer perceptions, brand building & increased product research. According to Facebook, its India user base has more than doubled in a year to 51 million at the end of March 2012 and Twitter has around 15 million users in India. Most of the social media users in India are younger generation in the age group of 18-34 years, predominantly male and are mostly inclined to use social media for doing banking transactions. Private Banks are the most active in using the social media with IDBI Bank (637K Likes), Axis Bank (545K likes), ICICI Bank (475K Likes) and HDFC Bank (109K Likes) as of May 2012. Public sector banks like SBI, etc are yet to start actively using the social media platforms but they still have presence.

In January 2012, ICICI Bank, India's largest private bank, launched its Your Bank Account Facebook application, which allows users to check their account balances, apply for debit cards, and other tasks like request statements and cheque books without leaving Facebook. ICICI assures its Facebook users that the app is hosted on separate ICICI bank servers and no data is transferred to Facebook as many of the social network users are concerned about privacy and data security which is hindering the active usage of banking applications on the social networking sites. HDFC Bank, one of the early adopter and with an active presence on social media space, runs the Money Matters section on its Facebook page. The bank through its Facebook page engages visitors by putting up interesting news articles, small puzzles and games to educate users about various banking tools and even posting latest offers on cards and loans at the bank. HDFC Bank even lets its customers voice their grievances on the bank’s Facebook page and responds to them within 24 hours.

Axis Bank has an active presence with highest number of likes, has interactive apps & promotional offers that allow the bank to communicate with its target audience. Brand campaign apps like Meri Zindagi ka Safar and Meri Zindagi ki Picture both have seen more than 20,000 monthly active users and bank is promoting its platinum credit cards on Facebook by integrating a movie ticket-booking transaction engine. IDBI Bank is the largest socially networked bank in the country in terms of official presence on four platforms namely Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with the largest number of fans/followers/subscribers/circles across these platforms as compared to any other peer bank in India. IDBI social media success formula is because of their approach which is an interesting mix of informative content, product awareness and grievance redressal. Social Media Platforms are an active part of IDBI marketing strategy.

Despite the fact that many Global banks are still apprehensive about offering their services and allowing customers do banking transactions using social networking applications due to data security and privacy concerns, Indian Banks majorly private banks are actively using the social media platforms to engage with customers and allow transactions through the applications. Apart from offering a low cost, effective customer engagement & marketing platform, Social Media usage through the mobile devices is also on tremendous rise as more people use their phones or mobile devices to make payments or other banking transactions through social networking sites. 

Twitter origin of most of the Social Media Crises in 2011- How to handle

According to a study titled Epicenters of Social Media Crises by Christian Faller, most of the social media crises in 2011 originated from Twitter and the author studied 30 social media crises in 2011, out of which 16 of the crises (53%) originated from twitter followed by Facebook (17%), Blogs (13%), YouTube (7%) and other platforms (10%). Most of the crisis are triggered by organization’s customers (54%) followed by organizations themselves (34%) and rest by opposing stakeholders (13%). Organizations customers complain about negative customer experiences (28.6%) followed by violations of ethical guidelines through the organization itself or its employees (25%), inappropriate content (10.7%), rogue employees (10.7%), failure to respond quickly (7.1%), violation of legal guidelines (3.6%), security breach (3.6%), inappropriate response(3.6%), community censorship(3.6%), lack of fact checking(3.6%) are the top causes of social media crises.  As is evident in the study Twitter is the favorite platform for customers to vent their anger or negative feedback and the reason for this seems to be brevity of information as Twitter allows only 140 characters per update, users can exchange many different updates in a relatively short amount of time and information spreads much faster than on other channels which users can easily understand. Since many twitter users often forward messages even without reading them and the culture of sharing and forwarding messages as part of the social media culture which also leads to rise in self esteem as spreading message will obviously lead to increased reputation among the circle and the density of influencers and opinion leaders is very high on Twitter and they can easily share information through micro blogging in short messages. There has been a sudden spurt in twitter traffic for the particular company during the social media crisis that highlights the significance.

The study highlighted the fact that Twitter is a major epicenter for social media crises and businesses should have a proper strategy for managing their presence on the twitter. There should be a social media crisis tackling plan with a particular focus on twitter, businesses should be very careful in identifying and engaging the key influencers and opinion leaders that are dominating, regular communication with the twitter users and for this businesses should give the responsibility of managing the communication to specialist teams who not only engage with customers but also manage the content in terms of videos, photos, website links, etc, engage specialists if necessary for developing the content that engages the users. Businesses should be responding in a proper manner to customer’s positive and negative feedback. Particularly in case of negative feedback and social media crisis appropriate response should be given with a focus to lighten the mood, if necessary apology has to be tendered and make amends to the customers. Businesses should make sure that the crisis is properly handled by the responsible people and necessary steps need to be taken so that this will not be repeated in future. Not only is it difficult to build a presence on twitter but also it is equally difficult to maintain the presence on twitter and any negligence in maintaining the twitter presence will have a direct impact on the brand and company reputation. Christian Faller study highlights the major social media crises in 2011 and how companies have faltered. For maintaining the twitter presence businesses should train the employees and if necessary engage the specialist from the relevant agencies to develop and maintain the relevant Twitter strategy for the business.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why CEO’s are apprehensive about Social Media usage for Customer interaction

Business leaders across the world believe that advances in alternative energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields far beyond Information Technology are transforming products, operations and business models and has created new industries, fundamentally disrupted some of the existing industries. 71% of 1,700 CEOs surveyed by IBM expect technology will be the number one factor to impact their organization's future in the next three years. Social networking sites have drastically changed the way people communicate and collaborate with friends, family, businesses and businesses are realizing its role in reaching their existing & new customers. According to IBM Global CEO 2012 Study in which 1700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 different industries were interviewed, currently only 16% of the CEOs are actively using social media channels in engaging business and customers but 57% of CEOs will actively engage with their customers through social networking websites and social media will rank number two in most utilized channels to engage audience in the next five years as it is presently the least utilized of all customer interaction methods.

Traditional methods of customer interaction that are most preferred by CEOs are face-to-face interactions, followed by websites, channel partners, call centers, traditional media, advisory groups, and social media. Presently CEOs believe that Social Media is a platform to obtain information about customers, collaborating with customers and a two way communication platform. Most of the CEOs particularly in the traditional industries like industrial goods are very apprehensive about the Social media hype and are not comfortable with the fact that their brands are in the hands of customers and employees. Control is shifting from institutions to individuals according to IBM Global CEO Study. Another critical factor highlighted by some CEOs is that Social media has seen tremendous growth in the past few years but industry knowledge on how to use it in the various industries has not evolved and most of the industries are struggling to find success stories and case studies within their industries that have profited from social media adoption and engagement. Very few CEOs are actively engaged on the social media platforms as they still believe that social media as marketing platform and most of the other CEOs are judging social media and its relevance without having firsthand knowledge of using it in their businesses.

Most of the CEOs are more than 50 years old and look at technology as a way of collaborating and communicating with employees and other stake holders, connecting with friends and socializing but the young generation people in their 20s work and think about social media in a totally different way as they look at it as a way of life. Young people use social media in all aspects of their personal lives and also looking for ways to use it in their professional live in terms of using it in performing their jobs within the organizations they work and are demanding for social media like platforms. They are well versed at using social media but not the CEOs and other senior managers who are still not totally comfortable with social media and need more evidence that it is one of the highly successful medium for engaging with the customers. As highlighted in the IBM Global CEO study, CEOs will shift their focus to using social networks as a way for direct engagement with customers from the existing modes of using e-mail and the phone as primary communication modes. Social media will help CEOs build closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees in the future.