Forget Likes. Your bank should be your best friend.

Recently, someone sent me a list of the “Top 150 Banks on Facebook.” There was a note attached pointing out how the banks at the top of the list were out-innovating the others who were failing to achieve “social media success.”

That’s ridiculous.

It's a tough time to be a bank - or a banking customer. So banks shouldn’t be using social platforms to be popular. They should use social platforms to make banking better.

Here’s a real example.

Billguard

BillGuard is a small start-up that “alerts you to hidden charges, billing errors, misleading subscriptions, scams and fraud on your credit cards.”  They claim 9 out of 10 people don't check their bills, or merely skim them quickly for large purchases (that’s certainly true for me). So they aim to make it easier to catch problems on your bill.

When you sign up for their free service, you register your credit cards by giving them your login and password. They scan all your charges, looking for possible problems based on their own data and analytics as well as a unique crowdsourcing approach to fraud detection:

“Every day tens of thousands of people report bad charges on their credit and debit card bills to their banks and merchants. Millions more post their complaints online. Up until now all that knowledge hasn't been benefiting the most important person of all, you. BillGuard is a free service that harnesses our collective vigilance to protect everyone from hidden charges, billing errors, forgotten subscriptions, scams and fraud.”

Real “social media success” for banks

Billguard is a great idea and I use it every month. But isn’t odd that I’m giving all my credit card data to a small start-up?

Shouldn’t my bank provide this valuable service for me?

  • They already have my data and my money.
  • They already have sophisticated fraud detection mechanisms.
  • And they could have a huge social network of their own to crowdsource further improvements to their data on fraudulent charges. (Bank of America, for example, has 40 million cardholders.)

It’s another opportunity for banks to apply network thinking. An opportunity to engage their huge customer base to solve old problems in new ways.

Instead of getting me to Like them, my bank should treat me as a friend - a really good friend who’s trusted them with all my money and needs help taking care of it. In doing so, my bank would improve their reputation, my loyalty, and their value.

That would be real social media success.