Is your bank “social” enough for social media? To identify the banks with the strongest social media strategies, Bank Director magazine ranked the top 100 banks with an audience of least 100,000—based on likes on their Facebook page, followers on Twitter and YouTube subscribers—using Seattle-based Rival IQ’s digital marketing analytics platform to examine the average engagement rate for each bank in the 2015 calendar year. The top ranked banks scored highest in engagement, a metric that measures the number of engagement interactions—likes, shares and comments—per follower, per post, and indicates how effective a company’s posts are overall, says Seth Bridges, Rival IQ’s co-founder.
Companies that get the most out of their social media programs create a sense of community, and Bank Director found that the best social media strategies emphasize the human experience, whether sharing personal stories, promoting community initiatives or interacting with the customer base. And sometimes, partnerships outside the industry can help a bank create a social buzz.
Social Audience: 191K
Engagement Rate: 0.42%
Ally Bank demonstrated the highest engagement rate of the five banks in the ranking. The digital bank’s “No Branches = Great Rates” motto is emphasized throughout its social channels, and the corresponding ad campaign is popular with followers. But the series of posts that resulted in the most engagement for the digital bank focuses on one individual, DeEtte Sauer, who adopted a healthier lifestyle and took up competitive swimming after her retirement. Her story is told through a series of Facebook and Twitter posts and YouTube videos. Users who want to hear more about Sauer are directed to a web page which promotes Ally’s retirement offerings. Celebrating individual stories can be a successful strategy to build engagement on social media, says Ben Pankonin, the CEO of Social Assurance, a social media management firm in Lincoln, Nebraska.
More than 60,000 people liked, commented on or shared the series with friends and family. YouTube videos featuring Sauer have been viewed more than 75,000 times. “Our goal was to engage consumers in a dialogue by featuring real-life retirees and their decisive financial turning points and actions that enabled their current retirement lifestyle,” says Ally spokesperson Andrea Puchalsky.
Social Audience: 267K
Engagement Rate: 0.28%
PNC grew its social audience by 32 percent in 2015, and the bank’s most successful posts focused on its Grow Up Great campaign, using the hashtag #PNCGrowUpGreat to promote the bank’s early childhood education initiative. (A hashtag is a keyword that allows a social media user to easily find other conversations on that same subject from a variety of users.) A Facebook post asking readers to share a memory of a favorite childhood book resulted in a 13 percent engagement rate, with more than 26,000 likes, 2,000 shares and 485 comments. Banks have a long track record for supporting their communities, and Pankonin says that these types of digital, community-oriented campaigns can create fans of a brand before they become customers. Someone who likes a bank on social media might be a future customer when the time is right, like when he or she needs to buy a house.
Other successful posts continue that focus on community, and include a “Thank You” to veterans on Veterans Day, seasonal posts about holiday spending and a post in June in honor of LGBT Pride Month.
Social Audience: 468K
Engagement Rate: 0.25%
Puerto Rico’s largest bank recognized that customers will talk about their bank on social media, for good or bad, and Popular’s social media platform gives the bank a way to constructively address negative sentiment, says Mariel Arraiza, vice president of marketing at Popular.
Several of the bank’s most popular posts promote a concert put on by the bank last year, with proceeds going to the bank’s foundation for music education, so Facebook has proved an effective way for the bank to promote its events within the community. It’s also an effective way to attract talent. Some of Popular’s most-shared posts advertise the bank’s need for entry-level employees to work in branches and the telephone banking center. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, has struggled with its own financial crisis, including high unemployment (12.2 percent) and depopulation as islanders move to the mainland U.S. for better prospects. Being seen not only as a supporter, but also an employer, bolsters the bank’s reputation, which Arraiza says was at a low point in 2009, before Popular’s Facebook page launched. “What we’re doing is trying to promote an economy here [in Puerto Rico] and foster a spirit of hope” in the community, says Arraiza.
Social Audience: 702K
Engagement Rate: 0.19%
In July 2015, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank asked its social audience a simple icebreaker-style question: “If you’re looking to unwind this summer, what’s the one thing you have to have?” The Facebook post resulted in more than 35,000 likes, shares and comments, and promoted the use of the bank’s debit card to make those summertime purchases.
TD Bank is one of the few banks in the industry on Instagram and Pinterest, where it recently had 3,657 and 458 followers, respectively. Both are visual channels, and are often used as do-it-yourself inspiration for users. TD’s most recent social media campaign this year took advantage of those sites to promote the TD Rolling Renovation campaign (#TDRollingReno), which offers home renovation tips on a dedicated website, with content supplied by HGTV and DIY Network, and a $50,000 cash prize for one lucky winner’s dream kitchen or bathroom. Ultimately, the campaign promotes TD’s home equity loans and lines of credit, with the bank providing inspiration and advice. Successful banks on social media tap into the heart and soul of what their customers care about, including their goals and dreams, says Bryan Segal, CEO of Toronto-based Engagement Labs, a social technology firm.
Social Audience: 1.0M
Engagement Rate: 0.18%
With more than 1 million followers, USAA has the largest social audience among the banks in the ranking, and USAA’s social media strategy reflects its customer base of men and women serving in the military, and their families. A video shared on Facebook to honor Memorial Day, #HonorReflectRemember, had the highest engagement rate for USAA in 2015, at 14 percent, translating to almost 75,000 likes, more than 35,000 shares and almost 1,000 comments. It’s one of many posts celebrating veterans and active military members. These posts don’t attempt to sell readers on a product or service. Instead, they position USAA as a company that cares about veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces. Many readers responded by sharing their own experiences. “USAA does a brilliant job of connecting [with] the community that they serve,” says Pankonin.
Customer service is also a big focus: USAA typically responds to messages sent to its Facebook page within minutes.
*Fifth Third Bank’s engagement rate tied with that of USAA, but at 184,000 followers, the Cincinnati-based bank had a significantly smaller social audience.