Archive for the ‘Social media case studies’ Category.

Europe’s Bankers say understanding customer social media data is top 2013 priority

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texting (Photo credit: meanmachine_ie)

The ability to interrogate and make decisions based on consumer data from social media is a key 2013 priority for European bankers according to a survey from the European Financial Management Association (Efma) and the Fair Isaac Corporation (Fico). The survey of credit risk professionals from 27 European countries found that analysing these data to better understand consumer needs was a priority for 54% of respondents.

The results show the growing importance of social data sets in the already data-rich world of financial services. The  industry is currently in a very risk-averse period, meaning that companies are looking for credit growth primarily among those people that they have the most data on - their customers. However focusing just on your existing customers will not help you to win in the current market as customers are risk-averse too in the current economic climate - they will look for the best product for them and move banks to get what they see as a better offer.

This is where the respondents see the role of social media. Analysing data from these sources can help them to better:

  • understand consumer needs
  • predict the products and services that will see most demand
  • identify where they might find valuable new customers

In the current market, the financial services brand that most effectively integrates these social data sources alongside their existing rich data sets has the potential for a real competitive advantage. The ability to predict and tailor products and services that will attract profitable consumers.

Of course getting there will involve work, as with any activities looking to interrogate and learn from social data you first need to understand what data you have (from your own proprietary data-sets and from social and public sources) and then to explore what you can learn from these. Only then can you consider how your business might benefit and the kinds of decisions you can inform.

That financial services firms rank understanding data as such a priority for 2013 shows the value that these firms are seeing from social media - not just as a means of communication but also to inform business and marketing strategies.

Can Nutmeg crack the financial services industry?

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Nick Hungerford, CEO of Nutmeg

Last week we caught up with Nick Hungerford, CEO of the new client investment management company Nutmeg.  We think this is a business with the potential to really disrupt the investment market for a number of reasons. Firstly it is positioned perfectly to take advantage of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), coming into force in 2013, which will make investors much wiser about the fees they are actually paying their advisors. Nutmeg offers a combination of total transparency and low fees thanks to its strategy of investing in the burgeoning Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) market.  Nutmeg has also tapped into the online banking and social media trends – offering a slick user interface and backed by investors that include Tim Draper and Spotify board member Klaus Hommels.

It was only a matter of time for social media technologies to start disrupting the financial services market and we’ve written about some of our predictions before.  We’ve seen interesting companies like Friendsurance using a peer-to-peer model  - combining social networks with insurance services - to lower premiums and Polish bank Alior Sync enabling customers to make financial payments through Facebook.

Q: What was the inspiration for starting Nutmeg?

A:  I’d been working in Financial Services for 7-8 years and I always found it remarkable that even though finance and investment is applicable to everyone regardless of wealth, private banks only deal with the extremely wealthy. Friends/family would ask me for help with investments but I would have to turn them down.  At that point I started talking to investors/smart people working in tech industries. They all said the same thing, “I want to invest online, I want a smart solution and I don’t want to pay someone too much.” At that point it became obvious there was an opportunity to disrupt the financial services industry.

Q:  Do you see a threat from other trusted consumer brands diversifying into this kind of financial service?

A:   It takes you into an entirely new regulatory arena. People often ask me, “Why wouldn’t Google or Facebook do this” but it requires a massive change to their business culture. If they start managing money they have to take on financial professionals. Becoming an investment manager is a totally different ball game. Having said that, we do want there to be more people like us, driving change in the industry.

H:  How do you encourage people to take that first step to invest and put something away for a rainy day?

There is an education curve. Nutmeg is a site you come to learn about investing, money and how to save. Then, when you are ready, you can choose to invest. We are starting with those people who are used to internet banking/investing, are familiar to other online services out there and like the user experience. Perhaps they’ve had an account with a broker but don’t want to spend so much on fees anymore.  I like the analogy of internet banking - at first it was daunting to use that service but now I never go in branch at all and I’m not alone - Britain has one of the highest adoption rates in the world for internet banking and I’m sure we’ll get there for saving and investing. We only need a fraction of the market to be a giant company.

Q:  Your educational content is key to your growth, what’s on the roadmap?

A:  We know that people care most about important financial decisions, like buying a house or car. We want to inform people of what and why we are investing in things, give them a clear monthly update in a non-obnoxious, easy to understand way so they know where their money is and how it’s doing.

Q:  You are currently investing in ETFs, could you explain that a little more to the uninitiated?

A: It’s a collection of investments that track an exchange, index or sector - so you buy a little bit of lots of different things in order to get diversification.  They are also low cost and 30 years of research proves 75% of active funds (or thereabouts) underperform and not just because of the fees. It’s very obvious that trackers and low cost funds are an increasingly attractive way to go.

Q:  Nutmeg is using social media in innovative ways to drive recommendations (offering fee discounts in return for social recommendations). How else will Nutmeg use social media to become a social business?

A:  We are looking at the sharing of ambitions and goals with friends and family and allowing for social investment.  So what if a group of friends wanted to pool their money into a fund that pays for them all to all go on holiday every year? From our perspective social media is about how we get people engaged around their money.  Nutmeg is the first to do what we do and we have a great chance to change things in the industry for the better.

Pets and social media: it’s more than just cute cat pictures

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There are a lot of cute cat pictures in social media, and a lot of cute cat videos. People, it would appear, like looking at cute cats in social media; and their owners like sharing these photos. So what happens when you get a group of cat owners together - you might expect cat overload as they compete to share the cutest photos of the cutest cats. And you do get this, but more importantly you learn something about how people meet and interact in social media and what the value of this can be.

We worked with the team at PetNet to develop and launch a space for cat owners (Scratching Post) to share more than just cute pictures. By looking at how they interact with each other about the highs and lows of pet ownership we can learn a few things about how consumers interact online:

  1. Photos and text make good stories - in a world of instagram and camera phones, it often seems that images are replacing text in many interactions online, and whilst cute cat photos are obviously popular we attract long stories just as often. People like sharing and writing stories either about the joys of cat ownership or sharing and asking for advice about more difficult situations.
  2. Cats can type - not really, and more an observation about how community members will develop their own behaviours. Perhaps the most surprising development was with these stories, after a few months we noticed that some started to be written ‘by the cat’ - first person narratives written from their point-of-view. And this wasn’t just an isolated example with lots of the content being penned from the cat’s point of view. What is going on is actually quite clever - members of the community (organically) started to write the stories of joy from the cat’s point of view and the more serious questions and enquiries (for example about health issues) from the owner’s point of view. An unplanned for development that has then been used to inform the UI and changes we’ve made to the community.
  3. Expert advice is critical - a real success of Scratching Post is that community members can balance questions and advice from fellow cat owners with an expert view. The weekly ‘surgeries’ (with vets, behviouralists and others) are the most popular times of week on the site with people coming together for a two hour period to ask questions of and interact with these experts.
  4. We can provide an outlet for people’s passions - one community member put this quite nicely saying that Scratching Post allowed her to “bring out the crazy cat woman inside”. And she’s right. We use the different communities and networks we are part of for different reasons - you might not flood your Facebook friends with your cat photos, questions and experiences so a safe environment with other cat owners is perfect for this side of your character.

Overall, the Scratching Post site is a microcosm of the kind of interactions that happen across the internet and more so in true and valuable communities. Perhaps most important is that it provides a space for people to come together and share a common passion. And it is helping to stem the cute cat pictures that might otherwise be flooding their friend’s Facebook news feeds.

I’ll be talking more about cute cats and social media (and how to balance the needs of a community with commercial needs) at Social Media Marketing London on 25th October.

‘Crisis’ is a dirty word - how Femfresh could have handled their social media backlash

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In the last few days you might have seen the word vagina bandied about a fair bit online, and not just in the murkier corners of the internet.

In the US, Representative Lisa Brown was banned from the House, ostensibly for ‘permissive’ language, after using the word ‘vagina’ in front of the Michigan legislature in a debate about abortion.

Hot on the heels of this came the Femfresh debacle. Femfresh is a ‘feminine hygiene’ brand which has a new marketing campaign. Its ‘expert care for down there’ campaign has been broadcast in traditional one-way media: radio and out-of-home advertising.

However when Femfresh brought it into social media – a conversational media – things took a different turn. Consumers could respond to the campaign, and respond they did.

Femfresh became the target for an unrelenting stream of criticism on Facebook for its ‘go woohoo for your frou-frou’ campaign that also seemed to suggest that vagina is an unacceptable word.

Whether or not it was infantilising women, or trying to break taboos is a moot point. Femfresh had a crisis on its hands.

Here’s three things Femfresh could have done:

1. Respond to each comment to explain and wait for it to die down.

Probable outcome: a long time-intensive process, likely to further inflame critics. With no firm closure to the incident it would have prolonged the resolution of the crisis. The issue could possibly just rumble on, ready to blow up again in the future.

2. Make a simple, human statement outlining the facts of the matter, taking appropriate responsibility, explaining what the outcome or change would be of this incident and saying sorry. Then push the story down their Facebook Timeline with positive stories and status updates.

Probable outcome: it would have inflamed some critics, but assertively dealt with the issue. Again fairly prolonged resolution but at least putting a credible position from which to recover.

3. Use it as a catalyst for business transformation. Use that rare opportunity of public scrutiny and turn the negative passion into positive. Take the backlash on the chin, engage directly with the critics and influencers, and as a result of their feedback, change the campaign or even the company. Wholefoods turned from crisis to case study in just this way.

Probable outcome: it would have fuelled more debate, but Femfresh would have a chance to turn some of its detractors into advocates. It would be a resource investment. But it could take that valuable feedback from its customers, change its marketing, improve its products and build a better business.

We’re yet to see what the long term impact of the Femfresh backlash will be. Unfortunately the company chose to take its Facebook page down – which is a missed opportunity.

The moral of this story has to be if you court consumer engagement, be prepared for what you get. And perhaps further, that if customers care enough to respond to you, recognise that for the gift it is: be grateful and use that feedback to build a better company.

Image credit: debaird on Flickr

What’s Hot in Social Media: April 2012

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It’s the end of April which can mean only one thing…our monthly round-up of what’s been causing a stir in the world of social media.

Movers and shakers

A couple of the giants of digital made some interesting moves in April, with Facebook buying Instagram for a sweet $1 billion and Google turning up the heat in the cloud wars with the launch of Google Drive.

April also saw blogging platform Tumblr release access to a real-time fire hose in collaboration with Gnip. Founded in 2007, Tumblr is particularly popular in the fashion and arts industries and now has about 46.2 million blogs. Access to the firehose – which is still currently exclusive to Gnip – will include all of Tumblr’s public data, which will mean access to analytics and brand monitoring opportunities.

Retail - trying on clothes virtually

Meanwhile, whilst we’re on the topic of fashion - John Lewis has been experimenting with virtual mirrors at its flagship store on Oxford street. Users can ‘try on’ outfits from a range of more than 500 garments without having to get changed. These can then be added to a virtual collection and shared via Twitter or Facebook.

Innovative Facebook marketing

Elsewhere on the internet, Volkswagen created a flipbook effect in a Facebook gallery for their Amarok. With over 200 photos to click through, this was a really innovative use of Facebook functionality - which only costs as much as the photos.

What have I missed? If you’ve seen anything hot this month, please do share it below!