ING NL shows the (financial) world that social media & banks CAN work

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Two weeks ago, ING NL won the social media award 2012 in The Netherlands. I guess it has been a while, since a bank came in a positive way into the marketing news. So, I was wondering about the story behind the award. I contacted Erik Van Roekel (@evr) and Harold Reusken (@haroldreusken) for an interview about their vision on social media.

If you have further questions for them, please use the comment part of the blog to ask them anything you want, I’m sure they will be happy to help.



You won a prestigious award last week, can you tell us about it?

Harold: Of course, ING is extremely happy and surprised with its number one position in the Social Media Monitor 5. ING was rewarded with the number one spot in the overall list and in the Corporate category. The Social Media Monitor is an independent survey of the use of social media by the top 100 brands in the Netherlands. This fantastic acknowledgement is an amazing boost, a reward and recognition for all ING’s efforts in the field of social media in recent years.

Erik: The Social Media Monitor is conducted annually by Social Embassy. The aim of the Social Media Monitor is to identify how the top 100 advertisers in the Netherlands use social media to achieve company objectives. Using independent research and an expert jury, the best social media company in the Netherlands is determined. It is a result that we at ING are especially proud of.

Why did you win?

Harold: Over the last few years, we’ve worked consistently hard based on a clearly defined vision with a relevant social media strategy. We have used this to structure our internal organisation and operations and to formulate targets (KPIs). The experts behind the Social Media Monitor estimated the value of this and our other social media activities, including Jonge Leeuwen (Young Lions), Ondernemers Support (Business support), Webcare, ING Investment Office, Newsroom, Klantdialoog (Customer Dialogue), Facebook and HR. The jury was also impressed with how we use social media, with openness, transparency and the desire to help consumers as the cornerstones in our dialogue with the same consumers in social media

What are the key strengths of your social media approach?

Harold: A clear focus based on vision, strategy and relevant clear goals and subsequent KPIs has helped us hugely and has brought us to where we are now as ING. To us, it was very simple: the financial sector and ING have been severely battered when it comes to trust and the use of social media and our presence in social media helps to restore trust in ING.

Erik: Taking ING consumers and customers seriously means taking social media and the conversations on social media seriously. This is why we launched a long-term approach to social media in 2009. In our view, this started by us being one of the first banks to set up a webcare team in that same year. ING consumers and customers began to talk about us and to us via social media channels about our products and services. We couldn’t ignore this. It would be the same as ignoring telephone calls to our customer services department.

Harold: Initially, the focus was on social customer service, helping consumers and customers via social media. This is the basis of social media strategy as we apply it at ING. Subsequently, as a second step, we fairly quickly added the reputation management component and we have gradually progressed with further development based on the concept that we had to offer relevant content to our target group. There was a clear need for this. This is how the Jonge Leeuwen and Ondernemers Support platforms came about and we have further developed our Facebook-page. So that was step three.



These three steps were also pivotal for the further design of the organisation and formulating KPIs relating to social media. Ultimately, webcare (service), conversation management (relevant content & dialogue) and PR and communications (reputation) collaborate robustly to restore trust in ING by means of social media and we are gradually seeing an improvement in the Net Promotor Score, Return on Engagement score, Coverage/Reach and Sentiment analyses.

This short video gives an impression on how we see the role of social media at ING NL

What are the priorities for next year?

Harold: Basically, we plan to consolidate, more of the same, but more vigorously, better and even more professionally. Social media is developing rapidly and we will continue responding to it. For example, we want to maximise webcare and in particular, conversation management and elevate everything to a higher level. We will be making a cautious move towards ING as a conversation company, as a social company

Steven: You work in the financial industry, not the easiest industry to move forward in with social media. What would you recommend to other people so they can move forward as well?

Erik: Don’t approach social media as the holy grail for all your problems and challenges because it isn’t. Take an old-school marketing approach and look for answers to the questions: Who is your target group in social media? What are they discussing in social media? Where are they positioned in social media? What is the sentiment in relation to your brand/organisation/branch and how can you meet a need as a brand/organisation? Decide what you want to achieve with social media. Don’t twitter for twitter’s sake; don’t open a Facebook page because everybody’s got one. Think before you act and underpin your social media activities with a strategy.

Can social media help to boost customer happiness and drive down service costs?

Erik: In our view, customer satisfaction is always the starting point in social media, and yes, based on our own experience with the efforts of the ING webcare team, for example, it has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

Harold: Social media also makes a contribution when it comes to creating enthusiasm and sympathy among consumers and customers. Children of between six and 12 years of age who are interested in football are extremely enthusiastic about our social community, Jonge Leeuwen , for example. This is separate from cost-cutting. We do not aim to use social media to cut costs.



Can social media help to enhance the marketing impact with a lower marketing budget?

Harold: All experts agree. Social media has an impact on the reputation of brands/organisations. This impact is only set to increase. It remains to be seen whether this is always accompanied by lower marketing budgets. Just like the mainstream media or in the ‘ordinary world’, you need to invest to get noticed, generate coverage and reach or to offer relevance as a brand or organisation. This is no different with social media. This is why lots of companies are shifting their budget from mainstream activities to social media activities. You need to earn attention and positive impact based on social media, sometimes it happens spontaneously and sometimes you have to make an investment. If you do it properly and smartly, you may be able to do it with a reduced budget

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