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Case study: Virtual vs Brick-and-Mortar Banks: Who is Winning the Social Media Battle?

The Internet has become our go-to source for every aspect of our daily lives. Financial operations are no exception to this – we pay our bills and rent online, we use our phones to withdraw money from ATMs and use apps to manage our finances better. The exponential growth of digital-only banks during the last year is not surprising. But with doing so many things online, is there still a need for physical bank branches? Are brick-and-mortar banks making use of digital opportunities to engage with their customers, or do they still hesitate to jump on social media train? How does their online presence affect the public’s perception of these two types of banks and the general sentiment towards them? These are the questions we asked ourselves here at Talkwalker. In our latest case study we decided to have a closer look at these topics by using social media listening.   

Absolute numbers favour traditional banks…

When it comes to the overall level of conversation, traditional banks rank significantly better than virtual banks. They had years to establish themselves as the big brands and players on the field. Due to their involvement in a large number of different activities on the financial market, they are also the subject of many online conversations – but being the main topic of conversation is not always a good thing.

After the Swiss Leaks scandal, Swiss bank HSBC receives most of the attention – more than 62% of the overall online conversation were related to the bank. At its peak on February 11th, the bank was mentioned more than 8,000 times per hour. Over a 7-day period, more than 400,000 mentions accumulated for HSBC - a sign the bank needs to monitor its online reputation very closely.  

…but virtual banks win on customer service

Customer service-related conversations are largely in favour of digital-only banks. Customers praise their availability and efficiency. Traditional banks have to fight a lot of negative conversations on this topic – many of their customers turn to social media to complain about negative experiences they had at physical branches or with customer service representatives.

In contrast, the conversation about online banks is largely positive. Two of the words used most often by customers to describe their experiences with the customer support of online banks: “awesome” and “amazing”. Customers especially enjoy the quick and efficient service offered by these banks.

Only if they know what their customers are saying, banks can improve their offers and services. If you want to know who is dominating the conversation – traditional or digital-only banks, – who has the more engaged audience on social media, how is more active on Twitter, and how new development will shape the future of banking and interactions between customers and banks, check out our case study “Virtual vs Brick-and-Mortar Banks: Who is Winning the Social Media Battle?"


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