Blogging banks?

Long gone are the days where banking could only be done over the phone.
It seems now even banks are jumping on the social media bandwagon. But is ‘friending’ your bank on Facebook a little too far? First Direct don’t seem to think so.

You no longer need to visit your nearest branch or spend hours on hold, you can now access your account almost anywhere. With almost every bank now offering an online banking service, some have pushed the boundaries even further. First Direct, a bank with over 1.16 million customers, have won numerous awards for customer service and have earnt a reputation as the most recommended bank in the UK from it’s unique range of services.

The bank offers apps for the iPhone, aswell as internet banking and customers can now even access their accounts by text message. Not only that, but you can now ‘like’ them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Perfect for the tech-savvy or just those who want to access their accounts wherever they are. This week it was speculated that HSBC are planning to develop their own version of facebook. While First Direct depends on their innovation of social media to reaching their customers, is a Facebook presence really necessary?

The First Direct Facebook page

“It’s a circle of communication. You want people to find you everywhere.” Amanda Brown, PR Manager of First Direct bank. “It’s joining up the dots of your communication in the digital environment. It’s like when people said internet banking would never take off – it’s working out how to use it appropriately and to your best advantage.”

But is it appropriate? A recent PR Week poll revealed that only 3% of us approve of banks being on Facebook. Even among the younger generation who are more savvy and comfortable with social media, 49% of 18-24 year olds still do not approve. However First Direct currently have over 7 thousand Facebook ‘likes’.

So is being social with your bank truly the way forward? Personally I am a little uncomfortable using Facebook or Twitter when it comes to my banking. But with the social media revolution, perhaps it’s inevitable that all banks will eventually follow suit. With the majority of businesses now discovering the power of social media, there’s no reason banks won’t follow in order to keep up with their customers.

Source: PR Week “Beyond the Phone” Article November 2011, Lynsey Barber


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