Barclays: the top financial services brand on social media
Barclays: the top financial services brand on social media
A view from Sally Charnley

Barclays named as top bank on social while price comparison brands dominate SEO

Financial services brands are, for the most part, failing to leverage the power of social media, according to a new report. Sally Charnley, senior consultant at digital marketing agency Stickyeyes, reviews the findings.

Our latest intelligence report on the consumer finance sector looks at the social strategies of the key brands using a unique score carding system, which takes into account volume, engagement and quality of interaction.

Historically, the sector has had an uneasy relationship with social media, a fact recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority which recently launched an investigation into finance brands' use of platforms such as Twitter.

The report identifies brands such as first direct, Nationwide, Virgin Money and Sainsbury’s Bank, which it shows are failing to leverage the power of social media platforms.

It is Barclays Bank that tops the social media index, underpinned by its ability to balance the volume of social touch points with effective deployment of content to engage its customers.

However, the lack of direct social integration on its website represents a lost opportunity to develop a seamless user experience and push traffic towards social assets, as well as ensuring that customers are aware of the brand’s level of accessibility in the market.

Positive sentiment

The challenge now is for retail financial brands to understand exactly how social media can work for them and to claw back not only the positive sentiment of their audiences, but vital online visibility from price comparison services which are striding ahead.

Some of the industry’s most established brands have lost out on significant online market share in core services. With brands that were in the top 10 in last year’s report falling completely off the radar in 2014, there is no doubt that it is the price comparison websites that are dominating the market in 2014.

The report, which explores the impact of key Google algorithm updates, regulatory changes and a shift in consumer behaviour in the market, reveals that price comparison websites MoneySupermarket and, alongside editorial website, take more than 60% of online search traffic across the financial services sector.

Some of the sector’s most established brands, such as HSBC, are among the biggest fallers in 2014

This is particularly true in the insurance markets, where five comparison services hold 67% of the overall click share in the highly competitive car insurance market and 78% in the home insurance market. In the current accounts market, direct retail brands accounted for 80% of the ten most visible brands in the market in 2012-13 but 12 months later, this has fallen just 50%.

While consumer-friendly price comparison brands have seen positive growth, the traditional retail competition has experienced a loss of market share.  Some of the sector’s most established brands, such as HSBC, are among the biggest fallers in 2014. HSBC earned the second highest click share in the current accounts market last year, with 13% of the combined paid and organic markets but now, has just 3%, after losing its high rankings for a number of core search phrases.

Post Office is a new entry into the organic top 10 index for the travel insurance market, climbing from an average ranking position of 10 at the end of 2012 for the primary term travel insurance, to position 1 in Q1 of 2014. It has also seen notable improvements for travel insurance UK and annual travel insurance. In line with its ranking movements, interest in the brand is also seen to trend positively over this time.