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Banks and Credit Unions on Twitter

By Jim Bruene on March 13, 2009 9:36 PM | Comments (19)

image If you haven't been following Twitter the last few months, you may not realize it now has almost eight million monthly unique visitors according to Compete. That's almost double the traffic it had just two months ago and a nearly a nine-fold gain from a year ago.

To put that traffic in perspective, it's more than half that of the NY Times and slightly more than banking giant Wachovia (see Compete chart below).

image

Banking activity
Financial institutions are pretty new to the micro-blogging platform. In a search today, we found 15 U.S. banks and 22 credit unions with active Twitter feeds (see notes 1, 6-8). There were also and nine international banks for a total of 46.

See the table below for the non-inclusive list ranked by number of Twitter users that follow the bank's feed (note 2). Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo), the only major bank that has promoted Twitter on its main website, leads with 2,000 followers (see previous post on Wachovia's foray on to Twitter).

Opportunity 
Participating in Twitter is a low-cost entry into social media that can actually help save a customer relationship or three. Compared to blogging, it is much less labor intensive. It's also less of a marketing platform given the 140-character limit in posts. But in the current environment, perhaps less truly is more. By all means, find a gung-ho Facebook devotee in your bank and let him or her get you into the Tweeting game.

Table: Banks and Credit Unions using Twitter (updated 16 March 2009)

Name Twitter URL (4) Updates Followers
1. Wachovia (Wells Fargo) /wachovia 257 2,058
2. Bank of America /bofa_help 557 1,486
3. Wells Fargo (3) /wellsfargo 4 548
4. ING Direct (6) /ingdirect 50 451
5. North Shore Bank /northshorebank 194 319
6. MSU Federal CU (7) /msufcu 180 270
7. Chase /chasebank 11 260
8. Pioneer Credit Union /pioneercu 225 251
9. 1st Mariner Bank /1stmarinerbank 140 227
10. Group Health CU /ghcu 353 219
11. GLS Bank (Germany) /glsbank 279 204
12. Brewery Credit Union /brewerycu 65 194
13. Bellco Credit Union /bellco_cu 67 192
14. Banco de Chile (Chile) /bancodechile 175 181
15. First Federal /firstfederal 89 177
16. Oklahoma Employees CU /oecu 14 148
17. CU Credit Union /mycucommunity 73 147
18. Allegiance CU (7) /allegiancecu 29 141
19. Heartland CU (7) /heartlandcu 33 125
20. Hopewell Federal CU (7) /hopewellfedcu 74 122
21. Tech CU (7) /techcu 62 115
22. Ubank (Australia, 8) /ubank 151 113
23. Banco Sabadell (Spain) /bancosabadell 2,272 111
24. FORUM Credit Union /forumtalk 19 97
25. Citibank /citi_forward 16 96
26. Fidelity Bank /fidelity_bank 11 92
27. Northeast Bank /northeast_bank 5 84
28. Banco Popular (Puerto Rico) /mi_banco 15 65
29. U.S. First Credit Union /schecking 43 61
30. Oklahoma Central CU (7) /okcentralcu 5 60
31. First Arkansas Bank /fabandt 27 59
32. SEB Bank (Germany) /seb_bank 37 59
33. 66 Fed Credit Union /66fcu 8 47
34. Telesis Credit Union /telesiscu 18 46
35. University CU (7) /universitycu 18 46
36. Nicolet Bank /nicoletbank 15 43
37. Chesapeake Bank /chesbank 8 41
38. Libra Bank (Romania) /librabank 14 38
39. KU Credit Union /kucreditunion 8 32
40. TwinStar CU (7) /twinstarcu 19 32
41. Capital Credit Union /captialcu 7 30
42. NW GA Credit Union /nwgacu 18 30
43. Banco de Guayaquil (Ecuador) /bancoguayaquil 77 28
44. COP Credit Union /copcu 7 26
45. Webster Bank /websterbank 3 20
46. Friesland Bank (Netherlands) /frieslandbank 8 10

Source: Online Banking Report, 13 March 2009 (see notes 6,7,8)

Notes:
1. To be considered active, the bank or credit union had to have set up a Twitter account, customized it with its logo, have made more than 1 update or "Tweet," and have at least 10 followers. 
2. This is not a complete list. With a few exceptions, we only looked for financial institutions with "bank" or "credit union" in their name.
3. Wells Fargo's Twitter page says it will be launching soon.
4. Twitter URL = www.twitter.com/<shown below>
5. For more on bank blogging, see our Online Banking Report on Banking 2.0
6. List and totals updated with ING Direct and First Federal on 16 March 2009
7. Searched on "CU" and found eight more credit unions on 17 March 2009. Thanks Gabriel Garcia.
8. Added NAB's Ubank from comments, unsure why it didn't show up on "bank" search

Comments (19)

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19 Comments

The tweets coming from most these banks and credit unions are dull. Plenty are just pointless, like those that say, "Good morning everyone!"

BofA's Twitter presence is the most successful on any company -- not just in the financial industry...any industry. They are they only ones using Twitter to conduct real, meaningful business. Using a 24-hour search of Twitter, they are proactively seeking out disgruntled customers who are bitching (tweeting) about BofA. BofA's Twitter rep makes contact and does what he can to quickly repair the situation and save the relationship. There's real, demonstrable value in that application of Twitter.

Using Twitter for marketing? Not so much. If you don't know what you're going to use Twitter for, then think twice before jumping in. In the meantime, get yourself a personal account and experiment with it.

There's been a lot of talk about Twitter in the financial industry. You hear the call to arms: "You need to be on Twitter." People talk about how it's "the most popular thing since cell phones were invented, so hop on board." For all the hype, I haven't heard one social media "guru" talk about the real business case to use Twitter, and you almost never (if ever) hear anyone discuss the practical applications of Twitter nor what it can be used to accomplish.

I agree with Jeffry. Many banks & CUs just create an account without giving the direction much thought. I think BofA is making a fantastic use of Twitter, though. You can see through their updates that they're working diligently to handle any customer complaints & issues asap. I think they're doing a great job. Hopefully more FIs will take BofA's use of Twitter into consideration when creating and managing their own account.

Just wanted to add us to the list: http://twitter.com/firstfederal.

So far, we been using Twitter as another outlet for announcements, such as seminars that we've held.

Great comment Jeffry! Many businesses have been taking this irrational blind dive into internet trends for years now. First it was MySpace, then Digg and now Twitter. It’s very tempting to have millions of consumers close at hand, so all strategy is tossed out the window. It’s a lot like the gold rush! Businesses are so eager to reap the rewards that they dive right in without clear goals.

BofA is doing a great job and should be used as a model for businesses in all verticals. In order for people to see your messages on twitter, they must receive a direct message from you or be a follower. If you send to many direct messages you’ll get banned, and if you advertise too much in your tweet stream people will stop following your updates.

So then where is the business value? Customer service!

People use twitter to talk about all aspects of their lives. This includes daily interactions with businesses. Good or bad these comments should not be ignored! If someone tweets about a positive experience with your company, reach out and thank them for the kind words. Also gently encourage the user to refer a friend. I recommend setting up a rewards program for this.

Unfortunately given the nature of the online community, people are more likely to complain about your business than compliment it. Don’t be afraid of this! As with any reputation management initiative, you must step up and try to solve consumer issues. Trust me it will look great for your company if people see your human side reaching out to those having issues.

Plus, the people you help usually become great brand ambassadors!

Thanks,
Ryan Adami
Follow me on twitter . . .

I agree that if the conversation starts with "we need to have a Twitter account," you're having the wrong conversation. On the other hand, I think there are different business models for using Twitter. B of A's proactive customer service makes sense for them. For my credit union, it's more about having a more conversational element to the relationship with our members. That may include the occasional comment about the weather or something frivoulous mixed in with relevant information. I admit, we haven't been tweeting for long, and we're trying to find our voice. Most of our followers at this point are other credit unions or industry insiders, rather than members. I'm hoping that changes as time goes by members subscribe to our feed and find that they get value from hearing from us on a more frequent, informal basis.

I have to second Brian Siegel--our Twitter is, for now, another means of interaction with our members. We make announcements of seminars, events, special deals, new products. We also like giving a personal face to our Twittering by adding details about my bike ride in to work, for example, or struggles with the crazy weather this winter. One person's "frivolous" is another's "friendly."

But I think a real value of Twitter is a sharing of valuable information about money matters: people post links to excellent articles we might not otherwise have found. And we can pass that information along to our followers.

As for providing customer service via Twitter, we find our current methods work best: no maze of automated choices on the telephone, you can press "0" to talk to a real person right away. And our members are always made to feel welcome in our branches, where they will be given efficient, friendly, personal service. That's just how credit unions choose to do business.

If you look at the "Followers" at the Twitter accounts of most financial institutions, you'll see that an average of around 85% are other industry insiders.

Inasmuch, Twitter's usefulness for B2B networking is undeniable. Financial professionals can share ideas, links, pose questions to one another. In that regard, it's great.

If you're a highly-localized financial institution serving a limited and defined geographic area, it can make perfect sense to tweet stuff about the community. But for those operating in more than one major metro, then what?

There's also the issue of compliance. If you tweet anything about rates, offers, loans, etc. (arguably the most relevant information to a financial institution's "Followers"), how are you complying with disclosures?

The ABA had a great article along these lines this weekend.
http://www.ababj.com//content/view/760/121/

This is good. Finally, our institutions have started to look at customers as humans and not just numbers. This is a good start! I am sure over time, their tweets will start getting more "interesting" and not dull as someone just commented earlier.

Brian and Shannon, you both make some valuable points about twitter, and Jeffry is right on too. At the end of the day it’s all about your followers. As Brian said “Most of our followers at this point are other credit unions or industry insiders, rather than members.” While this is great for networking and knowledge sharing, it’s not adding much value to the bottom line. Unless you realign your goals around B2B connections and industry education. But your tweets are not directly leading to customer acquisition and retention.

Customer service doesn’t have to just mean helping those with issues. Truly serving your customers is getting involved in the conversation and adding something of value.

Just a quick note to say that Technology Credit Union has also been "Tweeting" : http://www.twitter.com/TechCU

Thanks for the comments...I also received several private emails on the topic.

It seems there are many ways to effectively use Twitter...ranging from a strategic branding tool; a powerful customer service aid; or just a simple way to distribute announcements to the community in a cost-effective way.

All have their merits. Why not get started with a simple announcement mechanism and evolve from there (keeping in mind Mr. Pilcher's compliance caveats)?

I'd like to add UBank to the list.

/ubank
106 Followers
144 Updates

UBank is the direct banking division of NAB. Follow us for updates from the UBank team. We don't offer live support but our 24x7 call centre does, call 13 30 80

Thanks so much for including us in the rankings! We love Twitter and the growing community on it! We also still love our blog and have been faithfully posting for quite some time. I just don't understand why more people aren't taking advantage of these wonderful, free tools!

Thanks again!

hey everyone, we entered Twitter yesterday. So far, engagement has been great. We're enjoying it. See http://twitter.com/ask_wellsfargo

Cheers!

(Edited slightly to help translation -- JB).

Twitter is not something 'we' label as financial base services. I do agree with Jeffry Pilcher, "Most of them are dull with tweeting."

Why bother to jump into micro blogging such as Twitter if you already have name and local members out there. Nothing will change cause people only find their time nudging around friends and relative in there.

In the future there might be lot of people searching for financial services but hey why bother cause only the best win.

As for Ryan Adami, "I really admire what you said about customer service."

When dealing with enormous amount of thoughts and ideas, we can definitely figure out that a slight (mistake) can bring catastrophic chain of effect and vice versa. Better (research it fully) before an attempt.

Add Arvest Bank to the list!

www.twitter.com/arvestbank

You left us off, probably because we're a new-ish Australian brand and you've never heard of us :-)

We're enjoying our Twitter experiment so far and are always keen to hear/read about how people and other businesses are getting the most out of it, so thanks for the list.

Cheers,

Marty
@individuum

(and also @votekatet and @martinjy)

ING Netherlands has setup an ING Webcare Team for helping customers online in the social media.

http://www.ing.nl/webcare
http://www.twitter.com/INGNL_webcare

Twitter is power platform for consumers to voice their bank complaints. However, Banks must discover dissatisfied customers- to resolve complaints. http://SpotCred.com helps banks identify dissatisfied customers, and then determine the appropriate "next steps" based on the type of complaint.

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