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06/06/2017

Valuable Lessons from the Best Bank Brands on Social Media

Trevor Rasmussen June 6th, 2017
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Marketing Insights

Every quarter, The Financial Brand publishes an updated ranking of the top 100 best-performing banks and credit unions on social media. The Power 100 rankings for Q1 2017 are in, and if you made the list — congratulations! Ranking is an indication that your financial institution is making smart use of social media channels to communicate your brand’s value proposition to current and potential customers.

The Financial Brand notes that many, many FIs don’t make the list, and it’s not because they’re inept at social media. Rather, it’s because of the sheer number of financial institutions and accounts to examine — about 50,000  accounts held by 30,000 financial institutions in the English-speaking world. If your FI was omitted, you may be doing a lot of things right in your social media efforts. But looking at what the top five FIs are doing well may help you improve your efforts.

Here are some highlights from the best social media players on the Brand’s latest list:

  1. State Bank of India

With more than 10 million likes on Facebook and 1.6 million Twitter followers, State Bank of India is way ahead of the second-most successful bank on the list (which is also, coincidentally, in India). Earlier this year, Business Today profiled SBI’s social media game plan, attributing much of its success to a top-down focus on improving the government-owned bank’s social media standing. The bank took a beating on its first foray — a Twitter account that saw current and past customers flood the feed with critical commentary.

CEO Arundhati Bhattacharya made social media a priority when she took the helm at India’s largest bank, BT reports, driving the establishment of a Facebook page within the first three months of her tenure, a YouTube page two months later, and Twitter by the end of the first year. The bank is also active on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

The take-away: SBI’s top-down approach to prioritizing social media yields results, and is well worth emulating.

  1. Capital One

No. 4-ranked Capital One has taken some innovative steps to create buzz about its social media efforts within its own organization, a move that has allowed the team to more effectively share insights with other departments. Last year, SocialMedia.org reports, the mega-bank created a command center, integrated related functions like social media managers and call-center workers in shared environments, and placed screens throughout its facility where anyone in the organization could view real-time social media activity around Capital One. These tactics have led to greater awareness of the SM team’s role within the organization, cross-cooperation and enhanced inter-departmental communication.

The bank also deployed an Instagram campaign in 2016 based on its “What’s in your wallet?” initiative, Ad Week says. Capital One’s efforts paid off in instantly in Q1 with more than 4 million Facebook likes, 140,000 Twitter followers and 30,000-plus YouTube views.

The take-away: Your SM efforts are wasted if you don’t share what you learn with others within your financial institution.

  1. Bank of America

Google “Bank of America” and “social media” and you’ll likely come across commentary regarding a Facebook post by a bank employee that many social media users denounced as racist earlier this year. Within about 24 hours of the post in question going viral, Bank of America announced it had investigated the situation and terminated the employee. While some felt Bank of America’s response was too slow, the time-frame makes sense from a legal and business standpoint. The financial institution needed time to investigate and act, and once it was ready, Bank of America explained its response clearly and concisely, effectively closing the case.

It’s probably safe to say the negative story in the first quarter of 2016 influenced BofA’s social media numbers: 476,000-plus Twitter followers and nearly 44.6 million YouTube views. The bank’s decisive response to the controversy, however, likely accounts for its strong showing on Facebook: 2.7 million-plus likes.

The take-away: Social media can be a stew pot for controversy, but it can also be a channel for responding wisely and decisively to criticism — which can help bolster brand credibility.

  1. Wells Fargo

With Facebook likes of 964,000-plus, 260,500 Twitter followers and more than 35.4 million YouTube views, Wells Fargo is clearly doing several things right when it comes to social media.

In an interview with Social Media Today, Wells Fargo social media conversation and community engagement manager Jennifer Heyman says the bank takes very seriously the issues customers raise through social media. For example, Facebook users who want to communicate with the bank are immediately redirected out of the social channel. A team of responders works ‘round the clock to ensure fast responses to customer contacts. And, Heyman told SM Today, “We rely on many of our subject matter experts throughout the company to help with servicing. That’s critical, because customers expect a quick reply and want resolution immediately.”

The take-away: You can’t control every element of social media, but you can control how you handle the information and insights your SM efforts provide.

  1. Citi

Another mega-bank, Citi is so vast its social media efforts could easily become useless without a strong plan backing it up. Clearly, Citi’s SM approach is anything but ineffective; according to the Power 100 rankings, Citi had more than 1.1 million Facebook likes, 888,000-plus Twitter followers and over 19.7 million YouTube views collectively.

In an interview last year with Social Media Today, Heather Dahill, director and U.S. head, content and social, Citi Consumer Bank offered some insights into the financial institution’s success. Citi requires every social media initiative to have “a clear, primary objective,” Dahill says. Each must positively impact the brand’s favorability, engagement, traffic driving and lift.

The take-away: While social media interactions are often unavoidably responsive, it’s also imperative for financial institutions to be pro-active. Have a well-defined, thought-ought plan for your overall SM strategy and strict benchmarks for evaluating the purpose of every campaign.