BarCampBankSeattle: What I learned in session 3

Since it is coming up on one week since BarCampBankSeattle, I'll do two last posts about it. I get the sense that social web years are kind of like dog years—one week is actually equal to seven weeks. Much has been said and talked about this event; I guess that's what happens when most of the attendees have a blog!

Session 3 was simply titled Facebook. Since Trey Reeme from Trabian suggested the topic, he kicked it off by admitting to being a relative Facebook newby (me too) and invited discussion on what impact this social network will have on banks and credit unions. Lending Club popped up on Facebook a few weeks ago and has everyone watching and wondering how it's Facebook venture will pan out.

Discussion centred around whether financial institutions should be investing money in developing Facebook apps. I recently scrolled through the available apps and was amazed at the sudden and growing proliferation. This makes it really hard to get picked.

This line of discussion ended with the general consensus that although millions are flocking to sign-up, Facebook is primarily a place for people to express who they are and reconnect with old friends and find new acquaintances. One of the most insightful take-aways was that people define themselves by things like their music, their movies, their politics, their religious views and their other personal interests. Where they bank is totally off people's radar. Therefore, making a meaningful connection or impact in this space seemed limited at best for banks and credit unions. Ask yourself: do you even know where your closest friends bank? I didn't think so.

Using Facebook for more passive or low-overhead things like promoting events or causes seemed more appropriate (and affordable). Vancity recently posted an invitation to its BikeShare program that lead to a very successful launch. I posted about it here about a month ago.

Attempting to use the social web for outright advertising and marketing is not going to work. People can smell a sell job a mile away. Be authentic and tread cautiously.


P.S. I'm looking for a few more Facebook friends—I'm at 43 but I think you need to have more than 50 to be respected!

World Credit Union Conference: the good and the bad

Is your credit union warped?