04 June 2014
Social networks 'are a fantastic meter to know the concerns of the people and opinion trends', says Jaume Giró, Deputy General Manager at CaixaBank, one of GEN's strategic partners. As he is considered one of Spain’s preeminent specialists in Corporate Communications, we asked him a few questions about the social media strategy of one of the biggest bank in Spain. He is explaining to us how CaixaBank use social media to improve the relationship with customers.
What are the main characteristics of La Caixa's social media campaigns?
Jaume Giró: We understand our presence in social media as part of our corporate strategy and business. We have a presence on the major social networks as a channel to improve the relationship with our customers. From this point of view, we understand our social media campaigns not just in short-term actions but long term engagement environments. Places where we build shared value and stable relations with our different stakeholders. Basically, we provide current information about the bank, its products and services, and we solve doubts from the customers. In addition we boost our presence in these media with specific campaigns. Social media are also very interesting as a place to listen to what customers and non-customers say about our organization and the financial sector. They are a fantastic meter to know the concerns of the people and opinion trends. We engage in across-the-board communications, based on a global perspective and coherent with our founding principles of leadership, trust and social engagement, all of which are distinctive hallmarks of the bank. One of the main duties of the Communications head is to coordinate efforts throughout the organisation to convey messages that are consistent and coherent with the bank's principles, in real time, to all stakeholders and via all channels, including social media. Customers are always at the heart of our communications, as they are the raison d’être of the 'la Caixa' Group and the focal point of all our operations.
What are the results?
Jaume Giró: Beyond usual metrics, number of followers, likes or shares, our campaigns help to reinforce our reputation and enhance our brand image. We operate a 360 degree strategy – encompassing all the various channels currently available – to offer consistent communications on all supports, conveying open and simple messages to the public that emphasise values such as trust, security, solvency and innovation. Communication is founded on managing intangible qualities, and yet we measure and evaluate our results just like any other business division, which allows us to determine the success of our strategies. We work with concepts such as media positioning and brand recognition and strength, which are basically perceptions, which we then convert into specific and tangible benefits for the organization.
Do you need a different communications approach for new users? For example, how do you promote contactless payments?
Jaume Giró: Innovation is one of the key levers driving change at the bank, ensuring growth and allowing it to successfully compete in the current challenging environment. Innovation is in our blood, it is inherent to our business model and an intrinsic part of our culture. Most of our customers know this and expect us to be at the forefront of technology. And this makes the explanation process much easier for us. In this particular case, given that “la Caixa” was the first bank to start rolling out contactless technology in Spain in 2010, at a time when this was a pioneering technology not only in Spain but across Europe too, our main challenge was to explain to customers how the new technology worked and what benefits it offered. Once customers realized how the new system operated, and that it is a genuinely fast, safe and convenient technology, the barriers came down. According to our statistics, customers that have contactless cards pay for 10.8% more purchases under €20 using electronic payments, while that figure rises to 20% for purchases under €5. And once they have tried it, 86% of customers say they prefer the system to any other. That’s why we focused on effectively communicating the advantages of the new payment technology to consumers and retailers, by encouraging hands-on experience with contactless cards at every level, including local markets and traditional businesses.
Will you leave traditional advertising in media for direct marketing in the future?
Jaume Giró: We need to be where our stakeholders are, and the audience is already engaging in very different communication environments. In addition to consuming mass media contents they engage in social media, use applications, share videos, images and graphics. Therefore, our communication strategy uses the best tools available to convey CaixaBanks’s unique market position, its values and social commitment. That includes both direct marketing and traditional advertising. Nonetheless, our business model is based on customer service and attention of the utmost quality via personal consultancy. Consequently, our market reputation is largely fruit of the day-to-day endeavors of the Group’s staff and our experience serving all customers. That’s why direct communication to customers, stakeholders and other key parties is so crucial. Our communication strategy will continue to utilize every available tool to help us reach our customers. Additionally, in line with our commitment to innovation, we will reinforce our efforts via new electronic communication channels.
Are Google, Facebook and Twitter more important than traditional media?
Jaume Giró: Over the last ten years companies have felt the ground shifting under their feet. Traditional communication tools are no longer enough to accommodate to this changing, complex and global climate. The world of communications is experiencing one of the largest transitions in its history, and so too are companies, all driven by a radical technological and digital revolution. Traditional media and social media can be complementary. Firms must engage with new formats, adopting common and coordinated strategies to convey a homogenous message to consumers via all channels. The key is to have a presence in all media, while being prepared to adapt to new trends as they emerge.