Forget Likes. Your bank should be your best friend.

Recently, someone sent me a list of the “Top 150 Banks on Facebook.” There was a note attached pointing out how the banks at the top of the list were out-innovating the others who were failing to achieve “social media success.”

That’s ridiculous.

It’s a tough time to be a bank – or a banking customer. So banks shouldn’t be using social platforms to be popular. They should use social platforms to make banking better.

Here’s a real example.


BillGuard is a small start-up that “alerts you to hidden charges, billing errors, misleading subscriptions, scams and fraud on your credit cards.”  They claim 9 out of 10 people don’t check their bills, or merely skim them quickly for large purchases (that’s certainly true for me). So they aim to make it easier to catch problems on your bill.

When you sign up for their free service, you register your credit cards by giving them your login and password. They scan all your charges, looking for possible problems based on their own data and analytics as well as a unique crowdsourcing approach to fraud detection:

“Every day tens of thousands of people report bad charges on their credit and debit card bills to their banks and merchants. Millions more post their complaints online. Up until now all that knowledge hasn’t been benefiting the most important person of all, you. BillGuard is a free service that harnesses our collective vigilance to protect everyone from hidden charges, billing errors, forgotten subscriptions, scams and fraud.”

Real “social media success” for banks

Billguard is a great idea and I use it every month. But isn’t odd that I’m giving all my credit card data to a small start-up?

Shouldn’t my bank provide this valuable service for me?

  • They already have my data and my money.
  • They already have sophisticated fraud detection mechanisms.
  • And they could have a huge social network of their own to crowdsource further improvements to their data on fraudulent charges. (Bank of America, for example, has 40 million cardholders.)

It’s another opportunity for banks to apply network thinking. An opportunity to engage their huge customer base to solve old problems in new ways.

Instead of getting me to Like them, my bank should treat me as a friend – a really good friend who’s trusted them with all my money and needs help taking care of it. In doing so, my bank would improve their reputation, my loyalty, and their value.

That would be real social media success.


About John Stepper

Driving adoption of collaboration and social media platforms at Deutsche Bank. (Opinions here are my own.)
This entry was posted in Financial Services, Social Business and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Forget Likes. Your bank should be your best friend.

  1. John… this is why I love reading this every Saturday…
    You said… “So banks shouldn’t be using social platforms to be popular. They should use social platforms to make banking better.” Killer!!!

    That perspective is “so” true. It also focuses the business plans for social media away from “social black magic” to the basics of improving a business using new tools… which virtually anyone can contribute some idea towards vs. relying on the “social medicine man”.

  2. This is such an important point. Any one who doesn’t get that social media can be used to improve utility, not just connectivity, doesn’t get social media. Different industries have different requirements and each business has its own business model around which networked business should be carefully calibrated. It’s good to see that that perspective being incorporated into the financial sector.

    The strategy, assets, user experience and reputation of an organisation are all crucial social touchpoints, every social business or media plan needs to be developed as a finely tuned tool to address all of it.

  3. Peter Schuett says:

    Isn’t it a normal practice that your credit card supplier does it in the back …and this for years without bothering you? It least mine seems to do. They recently gave me a call (even on a Sunday, as it occurred just that day) and told me that they have found strange things going on on my account – really more or less in real time. That is what I would expect. It should not be my task as a customer to engage with start-up companies and crowd-sourcing to get the information that something is going on wrong on my account.
    The credit card supplier already has all the information. The only way to improve I see would be an exchange of such data between credit card suppliers. But maybe they are doing it already?

  4. John Stepper says:

    Thanks, Peter. Yes, and… My credit card company does indeed look for outright fraud. What I found is that Billguard is useful for more than that. Between the great UI and highlighting things like recurring charges, it’s helpful in spotting a broader range of possible issues in a convenient way.

    It was Fred Wilson whose post originally made me think of it this way:

    You’re right in that you shouldn’t have to do extra work for your credit card company. But I see it as akin to me providing feedback to Netflix about shipping speed or image quality. If it’s simple enough and I get a clear benefit, then I’ll click a button to improve my service.

    And, Anne, thanks for this great quote: “Any one who doesn’t get that social media can be used to improve utility, not just connectivity, doesn’t get social media.”

  5. John Porada says:

    John – another nice post. I liked Anne’s comment and thought it was right on. To me it appears banks and other large companies want to have a social media presence and “go viral” but the organizations haven’t found the way to make their services better for the customer by employing social media. Instead of wasting time counting “likes” and telling me what’s trending, how about better – simpler and easier or maybe less expensive – service and not nickeling and diming me for everything.

  6. Pingback: Re-humanizing banking: making savings social | johnstepper

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