Beyond SMS – Using Social Networks to Reach a Broader Market (Part 2 of 2)

By Aditya Banerjee

This is the second of a two part series on the panel presentation for the RBAP-MABS National Roundtable 2012 Conference session entitled “Beyond SMS – Using Social Networks to Reach a Broader Market”.

Panelists Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler, John Owens, Chief of Party of RBAP-MABS, Hans Roxas Chua, President & CEO of Blue Blade Technologies and Learning Edge, (Ret.) Gen Charles Hotchkiss, Executive Committee Chairman of Cantilan Bank, and Ferdinand Sia, Business Development Advisor for Chemonics International, mutually delivered an engaging presentation on the increasing importance of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter in reaching and interacting with new and current clients.

Mr. Hans Roxas Chua shared the point that social networking is a requisite for any rural bank looking to effectively manage its online presence. While Facebook pages are a robust publication channel to drive traffic to websites or promotional products, it is better to include Facebook into an integrated approach focusing on key objectives and strategies that combine direct email marketing, sponsored advertisements, and other traditional forms of marketing. For a Facebook page however, Mr. Chua provided an apt acronym called “RIBS,” which outlines how a Facebook page can be effectively used. RIBS stands for “Renumeration” (how to reward people for posting online), “Influence” (the need of people to feel that they have influence), “Belonging” (to create a sense of community), and “Significance” (creating the feeling that posting is important). He shared that making use of social networking platforms such as Facebook are all about interacting with customers.

Mr. Ferdinand Sia shared how even big multinational companies now recognize the value of the interacting with customers in the Philippines via social networking sites like Facebook. Starbucks, for example, has 1 million Filipino fans on Facebook and they frequently post promotional products and interactive questions to engage their customers on levels previously unattainable. By inviting customers to participate with your brand/company, you keep them thinking about your brand by involving them in activities related to your business. Mr. Sia shared that rural banks could easily make use of social networking sites like Facebook much the same way that Starbucks has done in the Philippines by letting clients and customers know about a new branch opening or even to invite customers in on a special day to open a bank account to win a prize or pick up a new calendar from the bank.

Cantilan Bank is an example of a rural bank that has successfully used its Facebook page to channel traffic, raise awareness and to connect with new and existing clients. (Ret.) Gen. Charles Hotchkiss shared Cantilan Bank’s experience in maintaining a Facebook page, which helps the bank to better share the important role and contributions that the bank does for the community. Today, Cantilan Bank’s Facebook page features photos of bank activities, links to their newsletter, and shares highlights of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.  This also allows the bank to more effectively stay in touch with their clients who choose to work outside Cantilan, especially their overseas foreign workers (OFWs). The success of this initiative is reflected in the more than 1,100 members of the bank’s Facebook page. Cantilan Bank is now positioning itself to attract and interact with younger, tech savvy clients who may not be otherwise aware of the banks products and services and finds Facebook as one important way to do this.

Currently, the Philippines ranks #7 in the world in terms of Facebook with over 27 million users followed by Twitter with 7 million users. As younger and more tech savvy clients are being targeted by rural banks, banks need to take advantage of the rise of social network tools to both interact, engage, and share how they can help people improve their financial goals and aspirations.