RBS Group plans social media forum initiative for banking brands

RBS: trying to connect with customers through social media forums
RBS: trying to connect with customers through social media forums

The Royal Bank of Scotland group is turning to social media to expand its 'helpful banking' positioning, with a social CRM initiative that will allow consumers to give feedback on banking with its NatWest and RBS chains.

The banking group is trialling a 'Helpful Live' online forum, which will invite customers to engage in conversations with the brand and make suggestions about how it can improve its services. Media communications agency glue Isobar is believed to be working on the forum.

NatWest launched its current positioning in June last year, with a series of pledges in a 14-point charter, which outlined to customers the levels of service they can expect.

It is not known at this point whether the initiative will be expanded to social-media platforms. The forums will run on the NatWest and RBS websites.

A spokeswoman for RBS group said: 'One of our goals is to actively seek our customers' suggestions on how we can become more helpful. We recognise the growing importance of social media in many of our customers' lives.'

The news comes as a series of finance brands look to increase their engagement with customers online, with several considering social media as a way to create relationships with consumers.

Last week, Marketing's sister title PRWeek reported that HSBC plans to create a social networking platform.

The brief, seen by Marketing, also details plans to expand the strategy to HSBC's M&S Money brand. It asks for suggestions on multimedia content as a way of connecting with its customers on non-finance matters.

An HSBC spokesman said the brief was intended to help the bank establish a list of social-media agencies should the need arise, but denied there were immediate plans for such a platform. 'We need to be at the forefront of social media and be where our customers are,' he said.

However, HSBC and its subsidiaries have already made strides in this area.

Last month, M&S Money launched M&S Money TV, an online video channel hosted on the brand's site. It includes 11 films featuring presenter Phil Spencer from the TV show Location, Location, Location. Users can share the videos via Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, First Direct, the HSBC-owned online and telephone bank, has been pursuing its strategy to be the UK's most 'social bank'. It launched a Facebook page in July with the aim of engaging with consumers on non-banking matters.

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