ING Direct’s Tentative Social Media Effort

I received an email today from ING Direct. Normally their emails go straight into my trash folder, but this one caught my eye.

ING Direct EmailThis one advertised a contest leveraging social media.

The Canadian Superstar Saver Search (try saying that three times quickly) is straightforward – create a video explaining the creative ways you save money, upload it to YouTube Canada, enter the competition and you’re in with a shot at winning $10,000.

I think there are several cool things about what ING is doing:

  • They’re getting involved in social media and user-generated content, however tentatively
  • They’re leveraging word of mouth – by using YouTube instead of their own video hosting system, they’re allowing people to embed the videos on their own sites and spread the word
  • They’re putting power in the hands of the community – the eventual winners will be chosen by the YouTube community, not by the suits in ING’s office
  • They’re aware enough of new media events to piggy-back on the launch of YouTube Canada.

However, I don’t think they thought the whole thing carefully before they launched.

  • I couldn’t find one link to YouTube Canada anywhere on their site. All of the links were to the international YouTube site. Bad ING. Bad. Go to your room.
  • For a contest about user-generated content, the prize isn’t exactly creative. Why not use that content somehow – in a TV ad perhaps? Their terms & conditions already allow for it, why not make it part of the prize? Or find an even more creative way to reward the winner
  • The competition uses social media; why not leverage it to spread the word? Their contest design shows they’re targeting a younger demographic that’s social media-savvy, so where are the social bookmarking links?  Where’s their Facebook or MySpace page promoting the contest? So many missed opportunities.

This all smacks of a company that wants to capitalize on the popularity new media without really taking the time to look into it.

Kudos to ING Direct for dipping its toe into the waters of social media. Next time, though, maybe they should think it through more carefully first.

  • Agreed – many companies start up a tentative viral marketing effort, but miss the high-level view that will determine if social networking will take off or not: does the campaign make sense? Is it appealing to the demographic? Specifically, are there the right type of and enough activities for those propagating the message?

  • The first corporate websites were dry, boring, brochure-ware, just as today’s corporate attempts to enter the social media space looks clumsy and stodgy. It is currently CALLED Social media not business media, for good reason – business isn’t yet quite welcome and the tools don’t exist. But that day will arrive soon, and those who are today dipping their toes will be the first to dive in.