Bulgarian banks assume diversified approaches to retaining trust on social media

By Perceptica, Media Intelligence for Southeast Europe

The way companies communicate with their clients via their own social media channels has a growing impact upon businesses’ overall reputation. This trend might not be as noticeable with banks, but the way they use social media is becoming important for building trust with current and prospect clients. The top Bulgarian banks have assumed a rather diversified approach to their social presence, as a number of them have opted for official accounts in a number of different platforms.

Facebook is by far the biggest channel banks have on social media. UniCredit is the sole exception to the trend, as it decided to pull off from the social net- work from June 1. As of May, UniCredit had the third most popular Facebook page amongst Bulgarian banks with over 74,000 followers. The decision, explained by the bank’s concern for their customer’s privacy, might require it to up its activity on other channels.

LinkedIn is the second most popular option, but the network provides a limited scope, as it is mostly employment driven. In order to remain relevant to its specifics, banks would need to focus on employment topics and job-related content. The platform does not represent a proper channel for communication with actual clients.

Instagram is an interesting choice, especially if the bank has some custom images and visual presentations. UBB offers a good example in this regard, as it posts unique images, accompanied by competitions and stories that are actually relevant to the platform and its audience. This enables the bank to accumulate 20 to 30 times more engagements on aver- age than its competitors.

As a whole, Twitter remains an under developed (but still growing) channel in Bulgaria, much less popular than it is in other European counties. It also requires an effort to actively participate in discussions relating to the brand, with limited returns, at least as of now. Very few banks have opted for a Twitter ac- count, with Fibank and UniCredit the only examples of handles that actually answer user comments on the micro- blogging platform. UniCredit, in particular, upped its presence, after announcing its intention of pulling out of Facebook.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS WHERE BANKS HAVE OFFICIAL/VERIFIED ACCOUNTS

There are also doubts as to just how efficient of a channel YouTube is, especially when it comes to the online reputation of banking institutions. Videos by banks are typically seen by no more than a thousand users and followers on the platform are by no means guarantee that content will reach all subscribers. Raiffeisenbank appeared to offer the single exception to that trend, as its re- cent Game of Thrones inspired videos reached over 30,000 and 160,000 users respectively.

One important factor in an institution’s social image has to do with the way it communicates with its followers and with people inquiring about something. The first and most important part is for banks to actually answer any questions users might have. Leaving questions unanswered diminishes trust and is immediately spotted by users. Thus, more channels means a lot of additional work in making sure all questions are answered.

The top banks have taken different approaches to how they discuss issues with their fans. Most do not go into too much detail in public comments, redirecting their clients to physical offices, phone numbers, or personal messages. TBI Bank, for example, tells them to contact one of their offices via phone, while UBB urges them to visit one in person.

Postbank and DSK seem more digitally focused, with the former inviting users to continue the conversation via private messages. DSK, on the other hand, leaves everything public, answering questions in full and leaving the answers in plain sight. The bank’s official handle still leaves users the option to also contact them in private. This approach shows users that the bank does not shy away from public conversations and also helps inspire trust in consumers.

The average number of Facebook posts per week range from 1 for ProCredit to as much as 10 in the case of Postbank. The activity of the page is by no means a prerequisite for its popularity. Bulgarian banks that are rather popular on Face- book post around 7 times a week on average. Recent and continuing changes to Facebook’s algorithm mean that fewer and fewer posts by pages reach the ac- count’s followers. The social network is currently trying to boost the conversations taking place within groups by enhancing their visibility.

A metric like the one Facebook shows about the responsiveness of a page (how much time it takes to answer messages by users) is telling of just how much attention a particular handle gets from its owner. The likes of DSK, UBB, Postbank, and TBI are leading the field, as they tend to answer in a matter of hours, while the remaining banks take about a day or more. Quite predictably, users want their questions and issues addressed as quickly as possible, even when this happens on social networks. Failing to do so within a day, or even an hour, is often seen as a lack of respect for clients.