Social media round-up: financial institutions, Generation Y and the Interweb

More financial services organizations are jumping into the social media fray these days. Here are the latest batch of initiatives you should check out.

RBC p2p (Business to Consumer)

The RBC p2p site launched in late September 2007. Canada's largest bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, conducted a national search to find six university students to write about financial services. The lucky six have been selected and will begin blogging and vlogging on March 1, 2008.

This is a bold initiative from a very large financial institution. RBC p2p has a very clear target market and six young people that are ready to get started. This program has the potential to humanize a huge bank and appeal to a new generation of potential customers.

It appears that the bloggers will be primarily discussing money matters which might be pretty boring to follow and may not produce many blog comments. The site feels a little too corporate and also feels very proprietary and controlled. During the audition phase, comments weren't allowed which made for a very one-way conversation. A closed video system confines viewing to the microsite which will limit linking and embedding and stifle any viral potential. Since there is no product tie in, success and ROI may be difficult to measure and prove. I am also unsure how authentic and real this program will ultimately feel to young people.

RBC is to be applauded for embracing the social web and going where none of its big bank competitors have dared to go.

Agent4Change (Business to Consumer)

Agent4Change was just launched this week by Credit Union Central of Alberta.

CUCA is looking for a young person who wants to make a social or environmental change in an Albertan community.

The winning Agent4Change will be between 18 and 24 and be chosen online through a public vote. The lucky winner will be compensated with $20,000 in consulting fees along with an Apple laptop. Young Albertans will be encouraged to apply by creating a YouTube video and submitting an application online.

The basic premise has been proven to work in Alberta with Common Wealth Credit Union's Young & Free Program so it shouldn't be a problem to attract submissions. The environmental and social spin is smart and should connect with Generation Y.

I am curious to see how two similar initiatives in the same credit union system will coexist. They are actually very complementary and CUCA has asked Common Wealth's Larissa Walkiw to be one of the seven judges.

CUCA has put together a very interesting social media campaign. I know how difficult it can be to get every credit union in a province to agree on a concept. Well done. It will be fun to watch.

What Money Means (Business to Consumer)

This is a fun scholarship promotion put together by Oklahoma's Tinker Federal Credit Union. Scholarship applicants are asked to create and upload a video that expresses what money means to them. The top eight submissions will be voted on by the public and one lucky student will receive a $2,000 scholarship. Video applications are due by March 14, 2008.

The design of the site is fresh and simple. The use of original photography is refreshing and professional. For the applicants and the visitors to the site, it would be nice to see the applications as they come in. It would be a shame to put all the effort into making a video and never have it displayed unless you make the top eight.

I will be curious to see the applicants and watch the voting. I wonder if the prize values will be enough to draw in the numbers?

This is a great idea and far more interesting than the typical credit union scholarship application process. The PR potential and brand awareness with this approach far exceeds anything your credit union could garner with the typical short essays and application forms.

Bravo, TFCU!

Project New Age (Business to Business)

Project New Age is a Generation Y educational and credit card services marketing site from PSCU Financial Services, a large US CUSO. The site keeps tabs on current Generation Y marketing trends and provides useful information for credit unions looking to connect with young people.

The site combines useful information with some fun entertainment. The blog is kept up to date and highlights current youth-oriented campaigns and marketing trends.

Although the blog is kept up to date, there are zero comments which either means people are unaware of the site or the content is not resonating.

That's my quick take

More and more financial institutions are beginning to utilize social media to connect with potential young members. This is great. As the social web matures, we'll see more creative and original uses of the tools at everyone's disposal.

I would love to hear what you think of these new social media initiatives.

Tim