The bank is today (9 January) launching a social hub that will show its first pieces of long-form digital content. Created with agency JWT, the films feature six true stories of people that have achieved their ambitions through the help of friends and family, offering them a chance to say thank you.
The content will be pushed out on HSBC’s Facebook account and a new Twitter account under the handle @HSBC_UK. The bank has had a presence on social media in the past but it has used the medium to respond to customer service inquiries rather than as a form of brand building.
The videos will also be pushed unbranded on social media with the hope that people engage with them without knowing who is behind them. People that click on a link at the end will be taken through to HSBC’s social hub where they can create their own film to thank friends or family.
The financial services industry has previously shied away from using social media. In part this is because companies are waiting for proposals on their use of social media to be finalised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
However, Chris Pitt, head of marketing at HSBC UK, told Marketing Week that with more and more consumers using digital to research financial products it was important that HSBC upped its presence.
He added: “We will have a proactive Twitter handle. We have previously had ones that respond from a service perspective but we have not had a proactive conversation with people.”
The social media push is part of a wider increase in digital marketing spend for HSBC. Pitt said the bank is increasingly using SEO and pay-per-click to direct people to its websites and is taking its first foray into rich media with a series of banner ads that will enable prospective customers to get loan and mortgage quotes within the ads without having to leave the site they are on.
The Advance campaign
The social media activity is the latest stage in the marketing campaign for HSBC’s Advance account. Pitt said the product is aimed at a demographic he calls “emergent affluents” – people aged between 25 and 40 who are digitally savvy, forward thinking and have more money than the average.
The TV campaign, which launched over Christmas, aimed to show how people’s support networks, which includes their bank, can help them achieve their ambitions. Pitt said the campaign works on the insight that banks are there to support “the other things in people’s lives”, such as having children, starting a business or taking out a mortgage.
That is backed up with a more “rational” message that promotes the benefits of its products – such as its savings offers and low mortgage fees – as well as new services it offers including a call centre open 24/7 and overdraft feature that texts people if their account goes overdrawn.
While the main aim is to increase customers for its Advance account, HSBC is also hoping the campaign will improve brand advocacy. Pitt said so far social media commentary around the campaign has been “90% positive” with lots of people emotionally engaging with the campaign.
“We have seen people creating their own content, conversing around the campaign. Where we’ll judge that is in advocacy of the brand, recommendation. That is very important to us as well as sales. It is at the heart of what HSBC wants to move in 2015,” added Pitt.
This idea of a support network also ties into a new HSBC global brand campaign that is set to launch in the second or third quarter. It will put this core strategy of supporting human ambition at the heart of the bank.
A number of banks have shifted marketing strategies to communicate their positive attributes having come under fire over the past few years for scandals ranging from Libor rate-fixing to PPI miss-selling. HSBC’s new focus is not too dissimilar to Lloyd’s, which is focused on the moments that matter.