The Co-operative has a long history of building sustainable consumer engagement in the UK. Long before Tesco or Sainsbury had loyalty cards in the UK, I remember at home as a child collecting stamps every time we did our weekly grocery shopping, and when the book was filled we could claim money off. At that stage my parents could also have had a say in the way the local branch was run – suggesting ideas and voting on ones to carry through to action. A real example of engagement on a local level.
Of course nowadays, engagement like this can be done on a much broader level and impact the business much more fundamentally than just the local store level. Working with online communities and leveraging the benefits of social media, brands can engage people more deeply. This is what the Co-operative Bank is aiming to do with its new blog, GoodWithMoney.
GoodWithMoney is a recent launch, with only a few days of posts. It is covering the bank’s efforts in micro-financing and the only posts that exist at the moment cover a current trip to visit organisations and businesses they are supporting in Bosnia. I have lots of questions about this blog (do they intend to keep it running or is it just a short term CSR or PR effort, how often will they update, is it designed to engage customers on an ongoing basis, how will they encourage interaction), but there is one thing I love already: their use of video.
We’ve written before about how powerful video can be in an online community, and how we work a lot with video in online communities we build at FreshNetworks. But the GoodWithMoney site is a really good case in point. Each blog post includes a relatively short paragraph or two updating us on what they have been doing, but it is the videos where things really come to life. A subject like micro-financing can be difficult to understand, what brings it to life are the real stories of real people. Video is a much more engaging way of conveying these types of stories. People come to life and feel more real. If one of the aims of online communities is to build a real connection between brand and consumer, then video is a great way of achieving this.
Video’s also great if it can be shared – it let’s you get your message out on other sites and bring people back into the community. As I’m doing right now…