British bank launches site highlighting customers social media thoughts. Good and bad…but more good. (Updated)

British bank launches site highlighting customers social media thoughts. Good and bad…but more ...

Logo_firstdirect*Important Update at The Foot of Post*

First direct, a division of HSBC, has launched a microsite devoted to highlighting its customers opinions from across the web.

In what appears to be a world first, the bank’s head of marketing explains the campaign:

“Our customers are writing about us all over the web and we want to embrace this, so we’re showing customer comments, good and bad, from websites, blogs and forums for everyone to see. We’re also encouraging uncensored feedback on a range of issues and we’re inviting everyone to participate in the conversation at…Research shows that the banking sector does not score well when it comes to openness and transparency, but this is something that we are keen to change at first direct with this microsite.”

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The company launched the campaign based on research undertaken in September 2009 with 2,095 adults aged 18+. In a release, the company says that their research has shown over 80% of Brits use social media once a month and 53% are now creating and actively sharing content online.

Their research has also shown:

  • 79 per cent of people are active online each month, using social media
  • One third maintain a profile on social networking sites
  • Almost a fifth (18 per cent) contribute to online forums through comments and a third read online forums
  • 14 per cent pass on reviews and articles via the internet
  • 41 per cent of over 55s publish, upload and contribute online
  • 36 per cent believed they were more open online because it was a sense of helping others and, surprisingly, just three per cent comment and contribute because they feel they are experts.

The microsite, although seemingly well put together, doesn’t seem to give any link back to where these comments have come from. Although they claim the reviews come from “eight million social media sites”, not one appears to stem from Twitter where can verify these are real people. For all we know, HSBC have internal staff writing comments made to look genuine or writing comments on the original sources intending to increase the postive review tally over the negative.

The fact that a bank is immersing itself in the wave of social media culture is undeniably a good thing, but its going to take much more to regain customer trust after the recent banking disasters. That said, HSBC were one of few banks not go to the government for funding.

The microsite is part of a wider campaign also involving Mindshare, JWT London and Cheethambell JWT that includes digital outdoor, press and online media.


If you needed any more proof this is far from a balanced view on the company’s customer feedback, check out A site put together for a “bit of fun” by a company called thruSITES. Thrusites specialises in designing, building and launching online communities, Facebook applications and widgets.

The company say they were just “bored” and “thought it would be fun to build a little which analyses mentions of HSBC on Twitter and displays tweets containing positive or negative sentiment. This time, you may be surprised to learn the general sentiment is bad with links back to the original profiles to ensure we know these are thoughts are genuine. (Thanks: Reputation Online)

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