Magazine article American Banker

Bank Enlists Social Media Rewards to Improve Revenue, Image

Magazine article American Banker

Bank Enlists Social Media Rewards to Improve Revenue, Image

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Stewart

PointBank is looking to replace lost checking-account revenue by boosting its social media presence.

The bank, based in Pilot Point, Texas, will soon test BuzzBanking, a rewards program that lets customers earn points both for debit-card use and for publicizing their points-earning activities on Facebook and Twitter. The points can then be used to buy gift cards.

Besides replacing lost income, BuzzBanking also allows community banks and credit unions to more actively participate in social media while competing with rewards programs larger banks offer, says Jay Valanju, chief executive of fisoc, which provides the technology.

"Banks don't normally enter into that conversation inside social media," Valanju said. "This lets customers advocate on their behalf. It helps build a buzz."

The Austin-based company fisoc launched BuzzBanking earlier this year. There are now about a dozen Texas banks participating in the program. PointBank will do a soft rollout in March.

"This product brings a unique solution to a couple of problems," says Ray David Jr., PointBank's president. "The social media brings value to the customer, it enhances the bankas image and it is more direct marketing for the merchant."

The BuzzBanking model allows banks to stay active in social media at a time when their participation on such sites is becoming a increasingly important. Banks that are not active in these outlets risk others hijacking their name for criticism or parody. For example, a bogus Bank of America Corp. page on Google+ lasted for more than a week in November despite the bank having its own Google+ page. This became a problem as the parody page was more active than the legit one.

The BuzzBanking model "is a way for banks to wrap their arms around social media in a productive way that engages consumers and merchants," Valanju says. …

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