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Friends and relations

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[Dave Birch] While I was sitting through a presentation (a very good presentation, I might add) on social media strategy for one of our client's financial services business, it struck me that they were slightly misjudging the more interactive and transactional nature of social media, doing great stuff but treating social media as another customer communication channel. I'm naturally more interested in social media for transactions: social commerce. I've given a couple of talks about this recently, pointing out the opportunities that social commerce opens up.

One prediction says social commerce will top $30 billion globally by 2015 with Facebook-generated sales one of the primary drivers.

[From Infographic: The history of F-commerce | SMI]

There are many different ways that financial services organisations can exploit this. A good example, to my mind, is the way in which Amex works with Foursquare.

Just after announcing that it passed 10 million users, location-based check-in service Foursquare has said it is partnering with American Express to give members even better deals when they check in at merchants’ stores across the country.

[From Foursquare partners with American Express for deal check-ins | VentureBeat]

This is a terrific proposition and it's well implemented (through statement credits, so no coupons or vouchers or anything are needed). And, to follow this example, Amex also has a Facebook pages where its large number of fans can come to learn about products and services, share with the community of card holders and so on. Great stuff. And it isn't only financial services organisations that are integrating themselves into social media to create new kinds of social commerce.

That is because the well-known mobile service provider is now allowing its customers to log on to Facebook to purchase phone credit.

[From O2 details new contactless payment technique]

Wow, that's pretty interesting.

Pre-paid subscribers will now be able to access a secure app on the social networking website, where they will put in credit card details in order to purchase top ups.

[From O2 details new contactless payment technique]

Credit card details? Not Facebook credits? But you get the picture. Something like Facebook can be used to create a more intimate transactional environment without having to develop software, making it easy for consumers to "friend" and "like" and so forth. Personally, I don't find this sort of thing particularly appealing because to me it's the wrong kind of social relationship: I want something more granular.

Here's what I mean. I don't want to be friends with my bank—after all, I'm a typical consumer so I hate banks—but I do want to be friends with my bank account. Why can't Barclays let me friend my current account so I can see its status updates like "Premium card fee £10.00", "Direct Debit British Gas £37.85" and "Counter Credit £5.00" and so forth? I quite like the text messages that Barclays sends me but would prefer something more immediate and more detailed (I often call this "streaming commerce") so that I can make decisions and respond.

Similarly, I don't especially want to be friends with MBNA, but I do want to be friends with my MBNA American Express card. If i see a status about about my payment being use, that would be really useful. If I see a status update from my card that appears to have gone on holiday to Kazakhstan while I'm in Peckham, I can press a button somewhere and get straight through to lost and stolen cards. I wouldn't mind if the status updates where now and then promotional messages instead of transaction reports, that would be handy. It would due like my friend telling me that there's double reward points in Sainsbury's today, so something like that. I'm using "friend" generically, of course, I don't mean to imply that Facebook is the one and only way to implement a social media strategy.

Facebook usage in the UK fell nearly 4pc in July to its lowest level since 2009, sparking concerns that the social network has hit its peak and may be declining in popularity.

[From Facebook usage falls to three-year low – Telegraph]

I don't use Facebook that much—it's really for sharing with my brother and sister, other family members and a few old friends—and I've not got a crystal ball to see whether we'll still be using it in a couple of years.

Many of the smartest people I know are leaving Facebook as well. I predict we’ll see many people leaving over the coming months and adopting Twitter.

[From The Facebook Exodus and the Future of Human Communication « Far Beyond The Stars | Cyborgs, second selves and cybernetic yogis]

My idea would work even better with Twitter. Suppose Barclays knew my twitter name—maybe they could ask me when I log in for home banking and get permission to send tweets to me—and connected it to my bank account. Now, whenever Barclays gets a new follower on twitter it can scan it's customer database to find out if that twitter name belongs to a customer. If it does, they can starting sending out all status changes as Direct Messages (DMs). That would be simple and great.

I'd love to follow my John Lewis MasterCard on Twitter in this way instead of having to log in to find out what it's been up to. Since I use Twitter all day and every day anyway, it would be a much better channel for payment products to develop a more intimate relationship with me. And think of the practical benefits: if I get a tweet from my debit card telling me it's just been used to withdraw money from an ATM in Belarus, I can call Barclays right away to block it from further misbehaviour. This doesn't seem terribly complex: all Barclays need to know is my twitter name and then it can use the Twitter API to post tweets and only allow me to follow them.

If I could follow my transactional instruments, I could also (in time) feed their tweets, status updates, notifications and so on into other software for mash-ups. I don't know what kind of mash-ups – I'm not smart enough for that – but I'm sure there are people out there who could do great stuff with the data. So a plea to my account, card and service providers: I don't want to be friends with you, because you are corporations and not mates, but I do want to be friends with my stuff: my money, my cards, my phone. How hard can it be?

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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3 thoughts on “Friends and relations”

  1. wieske17@dds.nl' Wieske says:

    I agree with being friends with stuff and not with corporations. But the examples you give almost only focus on security aspects, so probably you won’t even receive that many status updates. And maybe that is even better to receive by sms or phone call.
    Are there also other status updates you would like to receive? Or could think of. Because for things like my current balance or latest transactions I already use a banking app. I am not sure whether I want my bank-account or creditcard-account to be incorporated with the social media I use…

  2. jane@jane-adams.com' Jane Adams says:

    I like the point about the MBNA card. If the bank could delegate fraud monitoring to the account holder then that would get rid of the irritation of false positives that is making me seriously reconsider my relationship with my Tesco credit card and it would also make shifting liability a lot easier too.

  3. chen.li@chyp.com' Chen Li says:

    I like being friend with my card, only if it can show me everything I want, and I no longer need to go to bank to withdraw and save money. I can’t live without phone and card. However, I don’t like put my account on my social media, that means I want to share my details with friends.

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