The Customer Effect

5 ways banks are using Snapchat

  • With an projected user base of 70 million in the U.S. alone, banks are increasingly looking to Snapchat to reach millennials.
  • Banks' use of Snapchat is still in the experimental phase, with a focus on marketing to job seekers, addressing questions from customers and increasing brand visibility.
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5 ways banks are using Snapchat
Citibank Snapchat Spectacles video.
Citibank video taken with Snapchat Spectacles.

It was bad enough when your mom joined Snapchat to see what all the fuss was about. Now your bank wants to send you snaps, too.

“They feel like there’s a need to jump on Snapchat or else they’re going to get left behind,” said Mike Metzler, director of client strategy at Delmondo, a company that manages influencer campaigns and produces Snapchat branded content for prominent consumer brands, including Mastercard.

But consumers, particularly Snapchat’s largely millennial user base, have a high bar for organic content, analysts say. If the material isn’t sufficiently compelling, a user may completely shut out a brand.

“The process of adding someone on Snapchat is so cumbersome,” said Metzler. “If you’re a bank and you get someone to add you and make crappy content it’s a risk.”

Banks have been considering different uses for Snapchat, including marketing to job seekers, addressing questions from customers and generally trying to be more visible in a social media channel more heavily used by younger people. They are still trying to figure out what works best, so the approach is still cautious and experimental.

“They don’t know what they’re trying to achieve,” said Peter Wannemacher, senior analyst at Forrester. “Bank customers are not screaming out for ways to combine their financial lives and their social media lives.”

Here are five ways banks are testing Snapchat:

BNP staffers reach out to recruiters through Snapchat. Credit: Snapchat screenshot via Twitter.
Would you give them your money, though?

Recruitment
In November of last year, BNP Paribas launched Snapchat Recruitment week, where recruiters from five cities around the world gave snapshots of the company’s working culture.

American banks have also amped up their Snapchat recruiting efforts. Not long after their launch of Snapchat Spectacles, Citibank employees began shooting videos with them to offer insights of life as a Citibank worker.

“The videos provide a bird’s eye view of a day in the life at Citi, allowing recruits to follow someone as they interact with colleagues and do their job,” said Courtney Storz, head of global campus recruitment and program management at Citi.

Customer service
Dutch bank ABN Amro launched a Snapchat customer service capability (Snapchat “webcare”), a feature that’s yielded them 2000 followers since its launch a year ago. The bank posts stories to engage users who can ask questions using photos, videos, emojis and filters. Not being too serious is a lesson learned from the product’s first year, spokeswoman Brigitte Seegers told American Banker.

CIBC LGBTQ pride Snapchat filter. Photo credit: Snaphat screenshot via Twitter.
LGBTQ pride Snapchat filter from CIBC.

Aligning with a cause
Through Snapchat, banks are affiliating themselves with causes close to customers’ hearts. For example, CIBC, Canada’s fifth-largest bank, launched a Snapchat pride filter to mark LGBTQ pride festivities last summer.

In the U.S., JP Morgan Chase used Snapchat ads to mark international Women’s Day with a takeover of the international women’s day story on March 8 highlighting the firm’s female leaders.

Providing financial tips and advice
The Bank of Ireland pulled in celebrity influencers who use the Snapchat offer financial tips and advice to younger customers — a part of the bank’s FeelFree student reward program. Laura Lynch, head of youth banking at the Bank of Ireland, told the Irish Times that the bank is looking to use Snapchat “ to communicate with our student customers and share helpful tips with them on a range of topics and give them behind-the-scenes access.”

JPMCC_London
A Snapchat geofilter for JPMorgan Chase’s London Corporate Challenge.

Adding brand visibility at sponsored events
Bank of America’s Llama was used as a Snapchat lens was released last summer in conjunction with the MLB All Star Game to promote the bank’s mobile app. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase has used Snapchat geofilters for the Chase Corporate Challenge.

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