It's been a long time coming in this country, and another proud move towards a true virtual community.
Today, FNB launched How Can We Help You, a niche social network centered around financial content. And I'd like to think we really are first to market here.
Corporate brands can easily become "social" for social's sake. It's a little harder to target a particular niche, create content and take the big risk of opening yourself up to a very critical South African Internet audience. Those first steps are always the hardest. FaceBook is easy by comparison. You post some stuff, you answer one or two wall posts, add a gallery... But the real experience of engaging with people online only comes when you throw an entire community together.
“The key concept behind How Can We Help You is ‘Financial Ubuntu’. We aim to attract an active online community that shares personal finance trials, tribulations and learnings. Information from credible sources is aggregated on a single platform and shared.” - Gisele Wertheim-Aymes.
The marketing and engagement models behind social media allowed us to take a "community" approach to a conversation that has traditionally been held around the braai on Sundays. Finance. Money. Investing. Saving. Salaries. Life. After all, sharing the wisdom of a crowd is always better.
How Can We Help You will bring some interesting case studies into our local social media sphere. Banks will always have a certain weight of responsibility, and a certain weight of expectation. Be transparent, protect us - but don't cross the line. It's an interesting grey area to exist in. Social media makes it harder.
But if anything, I have realised that the future is online. 6 million South African Internet users now. 15 million over the next couple of years. The shop doors are opening and it's about time companies stood up to be counted. Learn your lessons now. Not when the "Red Hanger" rush comes.
The launch today is full of value (the essential ingrediant). Suze Orman provides plenty of short and sharp video commentary, blogs allow individual opinions to flourish and there's plenty of static content to help you navigate around the world of finance.
It's firmly pitched at the average South African. And why not. Too much of the Internet wafts around in the realms of geeks and techies. To become a true Internet society, we need to open up and break down the walls.
Hello the first step.