Best in Class: How Banks Are Mastering the Social Media Game

Social media has become the metric against which every business – financial institutions included – is measured: Who has the most likes and followers? Whose posts are the most visually appealing, balancing innovative, trendy and helpful elements? In banking, here's what the most successful institutions are doing to stay at the top.

Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha (the youngest generation to date) spend the bulk of their spare time perusing Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok. Giant Facebook is in the mix too, of course, though its core audience tends to range older than Gen Z.

To attract the attention of consumers, young or old, financial marketers no longer debate whether social media has a relevant place among their marketing channels, but they still have questions about the best uses of social.

For example, does social media advantage the onboarding process? Is it helping to keep younger consumers engaged as they’re barraged by neobank and fintech marketing campaigns?

A select few financial institutions stand out in their use of social media. To see what these institutions do right, we dove into the rankings of the top banks in The Financial Brand’s Power 100 Social Media Database, the industry’s most comprehensive social media ranking for nearly nine years.

Top 10 bank social media performers

Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2020 Q1 2021 Q2 2021
#1 State Bank of India State Bank of India State Bank of India State Bank of India State Bank of India State Bank of India
#2 ICICI ICICI ICICI ICICI ICICI ICICI
#3 Axis Bank Axis Bank Axis Bank Axis Bank Axis Bank Axis Bank
#4 Kotak Mahindra Kotak Mahindra Kotak Mahindra Kotak Mahindra Kotak Mahindra Yes Bank
#5 HDFC HDFC Yes Bank Yes Bank Yes Bank Kotak Mahindra
#6 Yes Bank Yes Bank TD Bank (Canada) TD Bank (Canada) TD Bank (Canada) TD Bank (Canada)
#7 TD Bank (Canada) TD Bank (Canada) HDFC HDFC RBC HDFC
#8 TGT Bank Goldman Sachs RBC RBC HDFC GT Bank
#9 CIMB Zenith Bank BDO Goldman Sachs Chase Zenith Bank
#10 CIMB Zenith Bank BDO Goldman Sachs Chase Zenith Bank

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The Consistently Strong Top 5

The banks in the top five slots of the Power 100 database are all from India. Their ranking is based on Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Instagram followers and YouTube subscribers.

State Bank of India

Government-owned State Bank of India, the 57th largest bank in the world, has been at the top of its game with its social media tactics for years. Even though in the second quarter of 2021 the bank’s Facebook likes fell and it didn’t garner any new Instagram followers, the bank is still yards ahead of its competitors.

What is SBI doing well? For starters, when people post complaints on Facebook, each comment gets a tailored reply from the bank.

State Bank of India Facebook complaint

And the bank is posting constantly and consistently. Across its social media platforms, SBI is actively pushing out posts at least three, four, five times a day. What’s intriguing is they are not unique to each channel — each post is replicated across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Nonetheless, they are engaging and relevant to the bank’s customers. When Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, SBI’s social media teams quickly circulated a post congratulating him.

ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank has been in the No. 2 spot for a while — always getting close, but never quite reaching SBI’s lofty perch.

In the most recent quarter, however, it did show considerable growth. In the second quarter of 2021, the bank added over 17,000 Twitter followers and 11,000 new Instagram followers.

What’s interesting is ICICI’s online strategy could not be more different from SBI’s. For starters, it’s clear ICICI’s teams spend time differentiating how they attack each social media channel.

For instance, on Instagram ICICI Bank has mastered the short video and each post has a unique interactive element. On Twitter, the bank posts links to articles, pages on the bank’s website and advertises ways for people to download its mobile app.

ICICI’s YouTube page features not only its ad campaigns, but short consumer and business how-to guides as well. Business examples include: “Want to order a POS machine instantly?” and “Explore how easy it is to make all your recharges.”

Compare that to their latest video, which is a light and short piece called: “[email protected]: A classic love story – Part 1.”

Axis Bank

Just as ICICI has a strong hold on its silver medal, Axis Bank has been rock steady in the No. 3 spot in the rankings.

Axis doesn’t try to go wild. There’s nothing inherently unique about the bank’s social channels that you won’t see on other institutions’ social media.

They post on a semi-frequent basis with plenty of engaging content. On Facebook, they quickly respond to people’s comments asking for help, they Tweet at least once a day and their Instagram post features what any good social media coordinator would suggest: deals and good consumer content like this:

Axis Bank Instagram shopping

The category where Axis appears to be excelling is YouTube, where the bank has racked up nearly 83,000 subscribers and over 275 million views cumulatively (up 4 million from the first quarter of 2021 alone).

It’s not because they post all the time. Instead, Axis produces short, but fun, videos to get people checking out the bank’s YouTube page. The bank also releases videos in spurts. For instance, from June 15 to 27, Axis posted four videos back-to-back.

Yes Bank

Unlike its parent bank, State Bank of India, Yes Bank hasn’t been consistently in the top five spot.

While Yes Bank performs well across all of its social media channels, its YouTube channel earned a big win in the second quarter of 2021 when it reaped 51 million more views from April to June, rightfully earning the bank its fifth-place position.

In one of its new campaigns — the “New Sound of Yes” — the Indian bank publicizes the news of its latest auditory motto: a song which Yes says embodies the namesake word of their company.

 

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Kotak Mahindra Bank

Kotak Mahindra Bank has been a leading social media performer in the banking industry for a while. And The Financial Brand thinks its ranking can be attributed to the bank’s conversational style with consumers, which keeps people engaged.

Take a peek, for instance, at this Facebook post from the bank to celebrate International Friendship Day (July 31).

Kotak Mahindra Facebook post

It might be a bit cheesy, but it’s fun, and it got likes and hundreds of shares — an indicator of a winning post.

The bank’s other social media channels are similar. In mid-June 2021, the Indian bank took to Twitter to warn its customers about the “malicious Joker malware.”

Kotak malicious clown social media malware tweet

What Some Other Top Players Are Doing

Although the game plans of the top five players are the most important to study, the strategies of other top social media contenders can also yield insights. Here are several from The Financial Brand‘s rankings.

TD Bank (Canada)

TD Bank’s social media pages succeed by connecting with customers right where they are.

The bank’s YouTube page is chock full of advice (recorded both in French and English) from paying off a home mortgage to investing tips to fraud alerts. Slide over to its Instagram page and the bank pays homage to the months celebrating LGBTQ2+ groups as well as highlighting people struggling with mental health.

For pride month, TD’s social media teams posted photos of same-sex couples and pitched the LGBTQ2+ initiatives the bank is sponsoring. During Mental Health Awareness Month, TD shared “well-being tips” and showcased the art of Tazeen Qayyum, which is on display at the bank’s Toronto, Ontario branch.

TD Bank Instagram

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TD’s Facebook page is rated by followers as “very responsive,” a true barometer for how the financial institution takes care of its customers on social media.

GT Bank

Anyone looking at Nigerian-based GT Bank’s full name — Guaranty Trust Holding Company — might mistake it for a traditional middle-of-the-road institution. But, GT Bank excels in the online consumer game, channeling its social media focus into one of the bank’s top priorities: autism awareness.

In early August, GT Bank held its 11th Annual Autism Conference, a two-day event to highlight how people from around the world live “life beyond the diagnosis.” All summer, the bank packed its social media with posts getting people ready for the event — sampling interviews from people talking about the diagnosis, like John Nkwo whose daughter has autism.

But that’s not all the bank does — GT also throws in non-financial tips amidst its bank-orientated content, such as its Facebook post showing people how to keep foods fresh for longer.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is renowned throughout the banking world as one of the industry’s top dogs. But, is that why the megabank has claimed a reliable spot in the social media rankings?

In the second quarter of 2021, it gained 6,000 more followers on Instagram, nearly 13,000 more via Twitter and just a little under 2,000 Facebook likes.

With its reputation and deep pockets, Goldman Sachs has drawn some big names to its portfolio of “Talks at GS” videos, including popular conservationist Jane Goodall and author Malcolm Gladwell.

The full interviews are available on the bank’s YouTube channel, but Goldman Sachs also populates short excerpts from the videos on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

On Instagram, GS takes a different approach, focusing more on the stories of its alumni, customers and recent news from the bank, like when the bank welcomed the Prince of Wales to the firm’s London HQ.

Goldman Sachs Instagram Prince of Wales

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