WaMu Posts Best Banking Facebook Page So Far

image As a marketer you have to love WaMu. They are bold, quirky, and not afraid to poke fun at conventional wisdom. I haven't liked all their advertising campaigns, but that doesn't matter as long as the bank is reaching its target markets and delivering results.

While the bank has its challenges cleaning up the mortgage mess, its marketing department and ad agency are still producing good work. Case in point: WaMu's new Facebook page (below).

I realize that all banking pages in Facebook will appear lame to just about every 20-something that happens to stumble across them (see previous coverage here). But 20-somethings do still need checking accounts, debit/credit cards, vehicle loans, and so forth. So they will buy banking services. And what brand will they choose? The one that is at least making an effort to meet them on their turf with Facebook pages, text messaging, and humorous advertising, such as the talking banner campaign shown below.  

WaMu's Facebook page, which looks like it was posted April 17, contains videos, a crossword game, a branch finder, a checking account application form, a fan area and a communications app (note 1) that can be added to your Facebook profile. Take a look yourself here.

Excellent work: A

WaMu Facebook Page (23 April 2008) (note 2)

WaMu Facebook page

Notes:
1. Even though I added it to my profile, I'm not sure what the WaMu Facebook application does. It appears to be a way to communicate with friends on Facebook and has 49 daily users.

2. The bar across the middle of the page is unrelated to the WaMu page; it's the new Facebook chat feature, that appears along the bottom of all screens, and messes up my screenshot. It does show you where the "fold" exists on a 13.3 high resolution laptop screen.

Facebook Financial & Banking Apps Have Only 263 Daily Users

image It's been a while since we looked at the actual usage of payment, personal finance, lending, and banking apps on Facebook (previous coverage here; see note 1). And assuming the numbers provided by Facebook are accurate, it's not good news. 

Overall, the banking and personal finance apps have anemic usage levels totaling just 263 daily users (for apps with more than 1 daily user). That does not include virtual currencies or stock tracking/investing applications (see note 2). In comparison, the most popular general Facebook app, FunWall, has more than 3 million daily users.

But the number will grow rapidly if major financial institutions add balance inquiry functionality such as (#4) MyMoney from Fiserv's Galaxy unit (previous coverage here) and mShift's Key Point Credit Union app discussed here (only 1 daily user, so it did not make our table).  Activity in Facebook personal finance apps yesterday (13 March 2008):

Name (parent) Daily Users
1. PayPal (eBay) 80
2. Billmonk (Obopay) 55
3. LendingClub* 26
4. MyMoney (Fiserv) 17
5. PayMe 14
6. Debt Manager 10
7. Prosper 7
8. FriendFunds 7
9. UPside Visa Card Balance Reader 6
10. Web Money 6
11. Buxfer 5
12. IOU (Sanjay Madan) 5
13. Split It (TD Bank) 4
14. MoneyExchange (Revolution Money) 4
15. IOU (Jonas Neubert) 3
16. Mortgage Calculator 3
17. BillTrack 3
18. Insurance Marketplace 2
19. Wesabe 2
20. FB E-Wallet 2
21. Intuit Tax Tips 2
TOTAL 263**

*See comment 1

**Does not include apps with less than 2 users

Notes:

1. You cannot make a meaningful comparison with last summer's activity because Facebook changed the way it reports usage. Previously, the company reported the number of application downloads and now it shows the much, much smaller "active daily user" total. For example, in July 2007, LendingClub had already had more than 11,000 downloads. Under the new measurement system it tallies just 26 daily users which puts it in third place (see table below).

2. The leading stock tracking app, Fantasy Stock Exchange, has 7,990 daily users. The most popular virtual currency AceBucks has 11,300 daily users.

50 Banks and Credit Unions Have Facebook Pages

imageFour months ago (here) I wrote about how easy it was to set up a company page in Facebook. Even a total novice like myself could create one in a few minutes.

There hasn't exactly been a rush to do it, but approximately 50 financial institutions have posted a free company page on Facebook (see note 1). Although, most are simple "white page" listings with no more than logo, address, phone number and URL, it's still better than nothing.
(Update Mar 7: Please note, I am talking only about Facebook "pages" here. There are several banking "groups," notably Chase +1 with nearly 50,000 members, that are far more active. Also, some FI pages , such as TD Money Lounge and RBC Bankbook, do not show up in my search using "bank" and "credit union." Consider these counts approximations. )

Credit unions have three times as many as banks. Credit union's can often move faster because of their size and culture. Here's the count by financial institution type:

  • 10 North American banks
  • 32 North American credit unions
  • 8 banks outside North America

The only banks with more than a handful of fans are Jordan's Arab Bank with 145 and HSBC Bank Egypt with 89. Silicon Valley's Valley Credit Union (screenshot below) leads in the U.S. with 45 fans.

Valley Credit Union Facebook page

There's also one bank branch that's taken the initiative to post a Facebook page. U.S. Bank's Beaver Valley, Ohio branch (here) is one of the few to have posted something interesting, a $100 Super Bowl contest. They've also posted their branch hours (see screenshot below). 

US Bank's Beaver Valley branch Facebook page

Note:

1. I counted financial institution pages by using Facebook's site search for "bank" and then for "credit union." To qualify the FI had to at least post the bank's logo and URL. There were also a few placeholder pages with no logo.

2. For more information on social media and online personal finance, see our Online Banking Report #144/145.

Banking in Facebook with MyMoney from Fiserv Galaxy

image Fiserv's Galaxy unit has created an online banking module for Facebook called MyMoney. I haven't been briefed on it yet, but Galaxy will be hosting a webinar on Tues, Feb 12 and Wed, Feb 13 (register here), if you want a closer look.

According to the company, MyMoney offers full-service transactional online banking:

…members can conveniently view account balances, review history, transfer money between accounts, and much, much more.

image

Galaxy hopes that the Facebook application leads to viral member growth for its credit union clients:

When a member adds MyMoney™ to their Facebook page, their friends will be notified and given the opportunity to also join your credit union right then and there, giving you yet another way to reach this growing audience.

I couldn't find any mention of the application on Facebook, so it doesn't appear that its been implemented by an credit unions yet. Who will be first? Drop a note in the comments or send me an email (jim@netbanker.com) if your company plans to deploy it.

In November, we awarded an OBR Best of the Web to a similar service from KeyPoint Credit Union powered by mShift (coverage here).

Thanks again to Jeffry Pilcher for the tip.

Revolution Money Adds Facebook App for P2P Payments, Pays $25 Bonus

image As Facebook and other social networks move into various ecommerce activities, payments will take a larger role. There are rumors that Facebook may be developing its own payment capabilities, but that seems outside its core business, so I'm skeptical. 

There are several payment companies already vying for attention at Facebook:

  • PayPal launched a Facebook app in July; it allows users to collect funds from friends or to raise money for a cause (previous coverage here).
  • PayMe is a service that uses the PayPal engine for person-to-person payments (previous coverage here).
  • Chip-In also uses the PayPal engine to gather group donations for a specific goal (previous coverage here ).

imageThe latest on Facebook is Revolution Money, the credit card alternative backed by AOL founder Steve Case. In December, the company launched a Facebook application to support its person-to-person service, MoneyExchange, which is aimed squarely at PayPal's lucrative franchise (screenshot below). Users that sign up on Facebook receive a $25 bonus (through Feb. 29), an offer that is not available on the main MoneyExchange website.

So far, the Facebook is light with only 16 daily users listed today. But as social network users find out how easy it is to settle their debts with friends through the network, we expect a significant volume of funds flowing through the social networks. 

For more information, read our Social Personal Finance report (Online Banking Report #142/143). 

Revolution Money's MoneyExchange App on Facebook

image

KeyPoint Credit Union Launches on Facebook through mShift Platform

Link to Key Point Credit Union KeyPoint Credit Union is the first financial institution to launch full-fledged account access through Facebook. Using its mobile banking engine powered by mShift, members can view account balances within their Facebook account (see screenshot below).

To view their balance within Facebook, users must add the KeyPoint application to their Facebook account. The first time it's used, users must log in to their Key Point account using their normal username and password. On subsequent visits, balance info is automatically displayed with no login, provided the user is logged into their Facebook account.

In addition to balance info, the KeyPoint application displays content taken from the credit union's homepage.

Analysis
Even though the application is relatively simple, we are giving it our OBR Best of the Web award, the second one this week, and the sixth in 2007 (see previous coverage here). Placing account balance info within Facebook is a great way to demonstrate commitment to social networking members. There are privacy issues with displaying data without a banking login (note 1), but it's reasonable to let your customers decide for themselves if they are comfortable with this setup.    

Screenshots
KeyPoint Facebook application prior to first authentication session:

Key Point Credit Union Facebook application

After initial authentication, account balance info is automatically displayed:

Key Point Credit Union Facebook application

Note:

1. Other Facebook users cannot see the balance info, but someone sharing the computer might see it.

Create Your Bank’s Facebook Page (before someone else does)

Is it just me or is it hard to keep up with all the developments at Facebook? I guess if you are worth $15 billion, you have to keep hustling.

Much of the news out of Facebook has little to do with retail banking. So, you may have overlooked this week's announcement of its new ad platform and promotional tools for businesses and organizations (for a concise, 340-word summary and analysis, see Wednesday's TechCrunch post here).

In the official Facebook press release (here), Chase is listed as one of 12 "landmark partners" in the advertising program. Other than the existing Chase +1 group, with an impressive 40,000 members, it doesn't appear the bank has launched a page yet.

But that shouldn't stop you. To create a Facebook presence, you don't need to be a landmark partner, a mega bank, or even have ten bucks left in your budget. The new company pages are free and you can set one up here in a just a few minutes .

As a test, I built an Online Banking Report page in about 90 seconds (here, screenshot below). It took an hour to show up in Facebook search, so don't panic if it's not there right away (see note 1).

Even if you post only your logo and website address, I recommend doing so right away. That will help ensure that you, and not some crook or prankster, creates the page that's associated with your brand at Facebook. For extra credit, add Facebook to your periodic Web searches to see if anyone is wrongly using your brand name.

As an added payback for my 90 seconds of work, an hour after creating my page, Online Banking Report is the one and only page shown for "banking" searches (see note 2).  

You also have the option of creating pay-per-view or pay-per-click ads to drive traffic to your page. Currently, the advertising is very affordable with prices starting at $0.15 per thousand impressions or $0.01 per click. Ads can be targeted to Facebook demographics.

Notes:

1. When I thought I'd lost my Online Banking Report page, I created a second page for NetBanker here

2. There are many other search results for "banking," but Online Banking Report is currently the only one under the new "Pages" designation. Overall, Facebook search is currently pretty weak, but with the $240 mil from Microsoft, it should be state-of-the art by this time next year.  

Facebook Battle: Students 1, HSBC 0

My teenage son has just starting "Facebooking," and he loves it. It's his first foray into social networking, and I can tell he'll be a user for the rest of his life, or at least until something better comes along.

Those of us who are merely parents of social network users often find it difficult to understand its power. In my son's circle, Facebook IS the Internet. It's where every online session begins and ends and where important social connections are made and nurtured. That's why strategic investors such as Microsoft, Google and others are said to be giving Facebook as much as a $10 billion valuation (see previous coverage here).  

All this has enormous implication for every retailer and service company on the planet. It amplifies word of mouth exponentially. Remember the old adage that every disappointed customer tells 10 people about their problem. With the instant broadcasting capabilities, an unhappy customer can now share his/her thoughts with 100+ Facebook friends with a single click (note 1).  

And it's not something that is 15, 10 or even 5 years away. It's happening today. Case in point: this summer HSBC (UK) was forced to reverse a policy change that would have ended a common perk for U.K. student banking accounts, a multi-year grace period for overdraft credit lines with limits up to US$3,000 (see HSBC student page here).

Local students were so taken aback by this change in account terms, they formed a Facebook group called, "Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off" (here or see screenshot below). Apparently the group was planning to rally its 5,000 members into a little civil disobedience. The group was hoping to cause customer service headaches by flooding the bank's branches, and overloading teller lines, with student customers asking for detailed explanations of the new fees.

According to news reports (here and here), the bank quickly backed off the rate change and reverted to the liberal interest-free borrowing guidelines.

Implications
You should be using, tracking, analyzing, and brainstorming about how to tap social networks for sales, marketing, service, and recruitment.  

Note:

1. And the simple click-and-complain activity can be broadcast to every friend before the disgruntled customer has a chance to cool down (and/or sober up) and think through the issue in a more rational way.

Geezeo iWants Facebook Users

 

I check Facebook about once or twice per week to see what new financial apps have been posted. So far the ones we've looked at include (see previous coverage here):

  • Lending Club's P2P marketplace
  • Prosper's Fantasy Banker
  • PayPal
  • Wesabe
  • Buxfer
  • TD Bank's Split It
  • Obopay's BillMonk

The latest entrant, iWant from online personal finance specialist Geezeo (see screenshot below). iWant is an application that allows Facebook users to share with friends their wants and needs, such as "buy an iPhone" or post more goal-oriented items such as, "pay off my student loans" or "throw a graduation party." And Geezeo ties it up nicely by tapping PayPal's API to facilitate "contributions" to the financial goals. It's also integrated into Geezeo's online personal finance application so users can track their goal progress in real time. ChipIn offers similar payment functionality in its Facebook app (previous coverage here).

I wonder if Geezeo will make a P2P lending play here? If Geezeo's software included a repayment option, the iWant "donors" could easily become iWant "lenders" and a whole new market might open up. 

If you are attending our upcoming FINOVATE conference next week in New York, you'll be able to ask co-founders Peter Glyman and Shawn Ward yourself. We are fortunate to have not only Geezeo, but two other early Facebook innovators, Prosper and Lending Club on the DEMO stage. If you can't make the event, check our website in two weeks for full length videos of each DEMO.

The Aging of Facebook Makes it a More Appealing Platform for Financial-Services Firms

Facebook traffic from comScoreDue to Facebook's roots as a college-only social networking site, as recently as last year you had to use a .edu email address to gain admittance, it has remained a young person's playground much longer than MySpace. However, much to the chagrin of my college-age niece and her friends (note 1), Facebook has aged rapidly this year.

As you can see in the inset, in May, comScore reported that more than half of Facebook visitors were 25 or older (see full press release here and note 2). Using this chart, we estimate the median age of a Facebook visitor was about 23 a year ago and now it's closing in on 30 (I'd guess 27 or 28 based on the comScore data). Even more frightening for the younger set: last month there were 2.6 million more unique visitors over age 35 than in the 18-24 category. We noted this trend at MySpace last year (here).

Significance for Banks
As you consider your social networking strategy, don't think it's only for the under-25 crowd. Some of your prime customers, the 30-somethings with new families, new cars, new homes, and accelerating careers, also keep in touch with friends via social networks. Refer to Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance, for a long-term forecast and strategic options for financial institutions. Also, see our earlier post on the Top-10 Banking & Money apps on Facebook here.

Facebook Lingo Defined
For those of you new to Facebook, Ad Age ran a sidebar off its lead article this week, This 23-Year-Old has Google Sweating, explaining a few key Facebook terms:

  • Minifeed: Like an RSS feed, that automatically updates everyone on your friends list of any changes you make to your profile, including removing items. This feature caused a bit of a revolt, due to privacy issues, when introduced last year. But now it seems to be an important part of the network. It's especially critical for the viral spread of new applications such as Lending Club or Chipin. Unless they opt out, every time a Facebook user adds an application to their account, all their friends are notified in the mini-feed.
  • Poke: The virtual equivalent of smiling at a co-worker passing in the hallway; a way to connect with someone without the more formal protocols of email, text, or voice messaging.   
  • The Wall: A place to write comments on your friends profile, or respond to comments on yours.
  • Tag: Allows users to associate names with the people in the pictures they've posted. As Ad Age says, "a college grads worst nightmare when it comes to the ever-crucial job search."

Notes:

1. This summer, my niece, a college sophomore, couldn't believe that I had a Facebook account. And she was more than a bit skeptical of my claim that I was tracking the social network for my blog and newsletter. To her, it's a privileged place for her friends to communicate: uncles, aunts, and especially parents, are definitely not on the invitation list. It will be interesting to see what happens to the hip kids as the establishment invades their turf. The Wall Street Journal had a similar story this week about fellow workers and even bosses requesting to be added as friends in social networks (here).

2. comScore is reporting the demographic profile of visitors, NOT the active-user base, i.e., those that maintain profiles. Active users would undoubtedly skew younger.