I am also convinced that banks will need to adopt social media in some form or other in order to stay competitive in the marketplace and remain relevant to their customers.
However, at Westpac, we are taking a measured yet active approach to social media. The Westpac Group in Australia includes individually branded retail banks and a wealth management business, each of which serves a unique customer segment and geography, and which are now brought together under a single business called Australian Financial Services. We recognized early on that it would be important for each of the brands to develop their own social media strategy in a way that made the most sense to their particular business.
As a result, the Westpac Group’s businesses have each been active in their own way. Our Westpac Retail and Business Banking division has been the fastest adopter, and now engages with customers on Facebook, Twitter (@westpac), YouTube, LinkedIn and Ruby Connection (an Australian social network for women in business). Westpac New Zealand, Bank of Melbourne, St George, BankSA and BT are also getting into the game.
But our approach has also been measured. Right from the start, we wanted to cut away the hype of social media and look at the real opportunities, risks and resources that would be required to not just participate in social networking, but to get it right. Working with KPMG, we identified nine distinct areas of opportunity and developed realistic budgets and resource requirements to fulfil them.
This will allow our executive team and individual businesses to make educated and informed decisions about the risks and rewards of pursuing a social networking strategy.
Taking a measured approach also allows us to identify all of the key interdependencies and then carefully plan and prepare for the changes that will be needed to enable our strategy. Culture, processes, controls, technology and governance will all be affected by social networking and each takes careful planning to transform.
Some of our competitors particularly outside Australia have attempted to seize a first-mover advantage on social networking. Our approach has been to build a strategic roadmap for the future, and take the opportunity to learn from our own first steps as well as those of our more ‘experimental’ peers.
Those that have been in the banking business for a while will draw certain parallels to the adoption of the internet. At first, companies were pouring buckets of money into deploying all sorts of online gadgets but – without a clear roadmap or significant customer demand – most eventually found that they had wasted much of their early investments. In hindsight, those that saw the best return were the ones that had taken a measured yet active approach.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.