Monday, August 18th, 2014 | 5 min read
With more than 100 million clients in 40 countries, Citi’s Global Consumer Banking business is among the largest retail banks in the world. Transaction touchpoints are seemingly endless: mobile devices, ATMs, online and more than 4,600 branches. Couple that with a financial industry dogged with reputational challenges and an increasingly competitive environment among banks, and there was a serious need for us to reinvent how we connected with our customers. At Citi, we turned to social media as one of our solutions to create experiences that would help us engage with consumers, deepen our relationships and build trust.
Two years ago, we saw an opportunity to take our customer interactions to the next level creating a digital ‘ecosystem’ for professional women where we could provide them with content, community and conversation to help them achieve their professional and financial goals – and to help us make meaningful connections with our consumers and add value to their lives. LinkedIn, at the same time, was looking for new ways to connect with its female members – so we joined forces to create Connect: Professional Women’s Network, powered by Citi, which has grown to more than 300,000 members since its launch in April 2012.
Citi collaborated with LinkedIn to ground this new platform in the insights we’ve gained from talking to women for the past 14 years about their careers and their financial lives through Women & Co., our personal finance resource for women. We knew that in order to do this right, we couldn’t repackage the same products or content or change the font to pink and add a few flowers to our home page. Being present to help seed, moderate and curate conversation was key to driving engagement.Our findings showed that women wanted real information and education, presented in the context of their lives. They wanted to exchange ideas with other women about their own successes and challenges – not just hear from the experts and advisors.
Together, we’ve been able to build an entire ecosystem of content and resources for professional women based on Connect, with touchpoints across LinkedIn, on Citi’s social properties, throughout our customer communications, and through media coverage, research, blogger outreach and events. Across all of these channels, the focus remains the same – providing consumers with pertinent content and access to knowledgeable and trusted communities. Each consumer touchpoint needs a human voice, and not only does our voice need to be consistent across platforms, we also need to speak the language and provide the content that resonates best with that specific audience. On Connect, we realized that being present to help seed, moderate and curate conversation was key to driving engagement, so we made sure to work closely with the LinkedIn community manager who was added specifically to support the Connect Group, to share content, start discussion threads, and share insights and ideas we provided based on our research and what we’ve heard from Citi customers and Women & Co. readers.
Our commitment to creating a relevant and engaging social experience is paying off. Connect is the largest, most active women’s group on LinkedIn, and it continues to top the highest 10% of all groups on the entire LinkedIn platform in terms of likes, shares and comments per member. As a result, Citi is seeing a lift in brand metrics. LinkedIn members who participate in Connect, or have been exposed to our efforts, have a more favorable opinion of Citi and are more likely to consider our products and services. We’re excited for what’s yet to come and encourage other companies to employ similar strategies to create innovative, positive social interactions for consumers.
Linda Descano, CFA®, is responsible for social media and content marketing efforts for the U.S. consumer businesses. Linda also serves as President and CEO of Women & Co., Citi’s award-winning digital publisher of financial lifestyle content. Passionate about community service, Linda is on the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and the advisory boards Fab & Fru and Generations. Linda currently serves as president of New York Women in Communications. @LindaDescano