Finance Brands and CSR Social Content: Who’s Doing it Best?

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It's all about the sausage sizzle
By Caroline Faucher, contributor. 28 March, 2017
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Financial institutions are embracing social media to communicate their corporate social responsibility efforts. But who’s doing it best and why?

Social media is at the forefront of content strategy. When done well, brands can engage effectively in meaningful conversations with their digital communities. Brands often use their social media channels to portray a positive image in the eyes of the public, in the same way corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are designed to work. So it's no wonder the two can often work hand in hand and that CSR makes for great content.

Our recent research report The Top 20 Australian Retail Banks Most Active on Social Media revealed CSR has become an important content pillar for smaller institutions such as Bendigo Bank, Bankwest, CUA, and ING DIRECT, with all four using community initiatives to build positive brand awareness.

Bendigo Bank is an example of a smaller player leading the way with their CSR initiatives

Bigger isn’t always better

The big banks may benefit from larger budgets to attract audiences but, beyond sponsoring high-profile sports teams (not a CSR activity in itself), they are not as active in promoting their CSR content as some of their smaller counterparts. CSR promoted via social media can have a significant impact on how these institutions are perceived in the real world. Transparency about what's going on in the corridors of power, especially where money in concerned, always plays well in the suburbs. But big organisations have many competing priorities so what we see on social media is then often a cluster of posts that provide little opportunity for the community to connect deeply before the conversation moves on.

Small but mighty

Smaller banks may not have the same stigma attached to them as the big banks. They also don't have the same access to resources and are forced to get more creative with their CSR campaigns, which includes using social to pump their own tyres - in a good way. Those leading the pack in this area have realised there is an opportunity to carve out and own this space, particularly if they focus on making it feel personal by getting involved at a local level in the communities in which they operate.

Bendigo Bank is leading the way with their CSR programs. Focusing on Facebook as their primary content distribution channel, the company showcases the many grassroots activities supported by individual branches across the country. The bank proudly promotes its Bendigo Mighty Mascot competition, which offered five customers' kids mascot experiences at an Adelaide Crows home game. Away from sport, Bendigo's Bayswater & Noranda Community Bank Branches have started a four-year grant with Ashfield Primary School. These are just some of Bendigo's community-based CSR initiatives.

bendigo_ict_program

Bankwest's Facebook showcases staff volunteering for UnitingCare West's Food Rescue Cargo Carts program. The company also supports "over 1300 community groups on the journey towards achieving their goals with grants of up to $1000." Davallia Primary School is just one of the local community organisations the Bankwest Easy Grants Program supports.

ING DIRECT, meanwhile, fosters their Dreamstarter program, which uses crowdfunding and short-form video to connect with social entrepreneurs, with a vision of creating a community of like-minded individuals hoping to ‘turn big ideas into social change’.

Similarly, CUA has their Everyday Account for Communities, which offers charities and not-for-profit community groups a straightforward approach to managing incoming and outgoing funds with fee-free everyday transactions. They're also reaching out to Australia's future bank account holders with activities such as supporting the St Bernard State School in Mount Tamborine, Queensland, fun run.

cua_fun_run

Banks cop criticism at the best of times so promoting CSR in the content marketing stream is a powerful way to raise awareness of the good things the finance sector does. Whether it's feeding the less fortunate or sponsoring a Saturday morning sausage sizzle, making people feel their bank cares goes a long way towards building loyalty.

Main image: Bendigo Bank

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Caroline is a Canadian-Australian writer and online communication strategist with over 10 years experience in media, not-for-profits and government. Now based in the seaside city of Newcastle, she enjoys the variety of topics a freelance life offers and the challenge of turning complex ideas into simple messages.