How UK financial institution Nationwide is winning over millennials


Companies like British building society Nationwide aren’t known for captivating youngsters. But the mutual finance institution has been winning over millennials anyway. Under the tag “MoneyStuff,” Nationwide has been dishing out no-nonsense financial advice with a colorful twist.

“Our overarching objective is to create an online community for a younger audience,” explained Alex Bennett, Nationwide’s head of digital marketing and social media. “To demystify money and all things finance.”

Since rebooting its YouTube channel last year, its subscribers have hit the 23,000 mark (double its original channel and the U.K. average for finance brands, according to Socialbakers). Meanwhile, the MoneyStuff Tumblr page, a hub for all its content, has reached 1,700 followers since launching five weeks ago.

It’s not easy building a young audience at a time when financial services are eyed with suspicion. More than ever, debt is high and trust, according to polling by Gallup, is low. However, on YouTube, Nationwide claims it had 99.7 percent positive sentiment in a recent survey. Meanwhile, brand tracking showed an 25 percent uplift in trust.

Here’s how Nationwide does it:

With platform-specific content
Nationwide hired agencies Socialyse and VCCP to help tailor its content to specific channels in an effort not to appear alien or too pandering to kids. For example, on Snapchat its recent campaign videos were bookended with shorts created in the low-fi style the platform is known for. They included a shot of the ad’s lead character, Isadora, writing on her hand and in her Moleskine diary.

Its recent Snapchat filter, which was released on A Level results day this August, had 5.5 million views. “It’s about getting in front of relevant audience with targeted content,” said Bennett, not being on the platform just for the sake of being on the platform.

Without mentioning the product
On YouTube, the brand has seen success with high-speed explainer videos, a format popularized by channels like CrashCourse.

It works with YouTube stars like LukeIsNotSexy and Dodie Clark to assure the tone is authentic, like in the below video about direct debits and standing orders, which has more than 183,00 views:

While Nationwide offers a student account and a bank account for 11- to 17-year-olds, these aren’t mentioned anywhere in its YouTube videos. Its logo is featured (very small) on its main YouTube channel homepage, and that’s it. Its Tumblr page has just two mentions of the company.

“We’re not overtly sales-focused, the key is to help that audience understand money and finance more,” said Bennett. “We may then be on their shopping list when the time comes for them to make a financial decision.”

By staying personal
Nationwide and its agencies created content across YouTube and Tumblr around Google Trends data, holidays like Halloween and also the interests of its target group: Fashion, cute things and music.


“It isn’t rocket science,” said Bennett. “But it’s important producing content on what they’re interested in at any point in time, rather than machine-gunning content out into the public space and hoping something will stick.”

While organic reach has been high (over 2 million organic video views to date) paid media has helped boost its reach too. Paid accounts for around two-thirds of its total views.

However, according to Bennett, none of this has been done with a hard ROI. Unlike banks, which are accountable to shareholders, building society Nationwide is able to experiment on new channels.

“We’re able to test and learn,” he said. “It’s why we’ve been the first and now others have followed.”

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