Visible Banking Twitter Watch #13 – September 2009: 710 Accounts / 38 Countries / 255,400+ Followers – Top 10s Banks / Credit Unions / Insurance

Logo-TwitterIn March 2009, I started tracking the financial institutions (FIs) on twitter. From only 54 accounts back then, I am thrilled to announce that I am now tracking over 710 accounts.

I believe my initiative is unique, definitely exciting and rewarding, and full of great insights. I aim to share some key stats with you, my blog readers, mytwitter followers, and my facebook fans, and provide some second-to-none recommendations to my clients.

From now on, I will post regular summaries of the Visible Banking Twitter Watch on my blog. I am aiming for monthly updates. For more regular updates, I invite you to follow me on twitter @Visible_Banking and search twitter for updates with #VBTW.

My ambition is to establish my Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series (TwitterBlogsFacebook and YouTube) as The first point of reference in the Finance industry. I aim to demonstrate that the industry can leverage social media, even though very few FIs do it well mainly due to lack of a subject matter expert. Indeed it is good to know how the likes of Dell, Starbucks and Toyota successfully leverage social media, but the Finance industry is a totally different ball game.

In addition to this ongoing effort, I am currently working on an indepth report on twitter in the finance industry with a key focus on 20 of the most followed FIs. Feel free to contact me if you want to contribute!

You work for a financial institution? You would like to leverage twitter more efficiently, learn how your peers and competitors are using the popular micro-blogging service, or find out more about the best practices and the most successful initiatives in the finance industry?
I invite you to send me an email or call me on +44 7736 446 357.

The global picture
Twitter is a great tool for real time market research, the data is constantly changing. It is a work in progress, so please do not hesitate to flag any missing initiatives.

Please note I started writing this article last week, and I used the data collected on Thursday 1st October 2009. I was then tracking 710 financial institutions.

Finovate 2009 (NYC) + Social Media & Finance Workshop (London)
The last two weeks have been hectic and very productive. I have been busy attending Finovate 2009 in NYC. I invite you to check my coverage on Visible Banking. Stay tuned, I will start posting my 16 video interviews soon! (FYI, I have started to upload them on the Visible Banking Facebook pageand my Dailymotion page).

Last Wednesday I delivered my first Social Media & Finance workshop in London. It went extremely well, and the delegates (from financial institutions such as Barclays, Barclaycard, Investec, or Schroders) not only learned a lot but had a great time networking between each other. Morelinkedin endorsements to follow soon.

Summary – September 2009
Please find below four charts all based on the unique insights from myVisible Banking Twitter Watch.
In addition to the usual two charts displaying the top countries and the types of financial institutions I track on twitter, I decided to post the two new charts I created for my workshop.
How useful do you find those insights? Please get back to me with your comments.

As you would expect, we noticed more activity overall in September following the holiday season.

The top 50 accounts produced over 20% of the new updates, bagged a staggering 37% of all the new followers, and started to follow a sizable number of new tweeps.

It is another proof that 1. content is king, 2. posting on regular basis pays off, 3. following people is a winner (but please be cautious with your following strategy).

Germany still leads the way in Europe in number of twitter accounts and having one account in the top 10 overall. Well done.

Please find below a few facts and news you may have missed.
* Innovation / Banking on Twitter: Vantage Credit Union (@myvcu -protected account-) launched TweetMyMoney, an innovative ‘mobile banking’ service for their customers who are also on twitter. Not only the Credit Union allows its members to query their accounts, but they also let them move money between their accounts via twitter.
Very innovative. But as usual in social media, their main challenge will be to reach a critical mass of users. And one may wonder if their customers need or want such a service? It doesn’t really matter. They were the first, and being the first to dare to innovate in social media is always a great way to increase brand awareness and gain worldwide exposure. Remember Wells Fargo back in 2005 when they became the first major bank to launch a virtual island on second life…
I invite you to check Jim’s coverage on Netbanker. They totally deserved their Best of the Web Award!
* Twitter Training & ROI: I invite you to check Vincent Ryan‘s informativearticle on
While the ROI has yet to be quantified, “it’s a low-cost way to make sure the brand is active and recognized,” says Lani Hayward, executive vice president, creative strategies, at $8.8 billion (in assets) Umpqua Bank. (…) Umpqua Bank, for example, sends out “Fun Fact Friday” trivia tweets (Did you know the memory span of a goldfish is three seconds?) but has alsotrained 40 employees in its customer-care center to respond to complaints via Twitter. “It’s saving us money because it’s saving customer relationships,” Hayward says.
* Customer Support: I spotted two more customer service accounts on twitter: American Express’ @AskAmex (a warm welcome to Beth, Nadir and Rachel) and TD Bank’s quite impersonal @Ask_TDBank.
Following respectively 1 and 0 tweeple, I assume neither @AskAmex nor@Ask_TDBank have started yet to send private messages (DMs) on twitter? Interesting approach for two accounts dedicated to customer care! In comparison, Wachovia is following close to 5,000 tweeple, Ask_WellsFargo 2,700+ tweeple and BofA_Help 1,200+ tweeple…
* 10 accounts ‘discountinued’ in September: AldenStateBank, americascu, AZCentralCU, C_NEWS, FNBokla / First National Bank, Giroflexx – Gunnar Sieverts, Giroflexx – Isabelle Wente, Giroflexx – Rainer Grieger, Giroflexx – Sandra Moeller, individuum. Please note that some of those accounts may have been renamed.

Key milestones
Congrats to the following financial institutions for reaching an important milestone in September!
* 11,000: Somerset Mortgage (US)
* 3,000: Ask_WellsFargo (US)
* 2,000: Progressive (US)
* 1,000: MasterCardNews (US), NYFed_data (US), mycucommunity (US),Trupanion (US), AIGHawaii (US)

Special kudos to the following FIs which haven’t made the top 10 yet, but significantly increased their follower base in September: 1.@BNPPARIBAS_DE (+475 / +173.4%, Germany), 2. @FosterBank (+499 / + 145.9%, US), 3. @quirinbankAG (+39 / +139.3%, US), 4. @myAllstateAgent(+954 / +134.9%, US), 5. @veritymom (+53 / +108.2%, US)

Twitter anniversaries
In case you missed my updates on @Visible_Banking, I invite you to checkmy list of Social Media anniversaries (Twitter, YouTube and Blogs) in September:

Happy 1-year anniversary to Discover (US), Discover Card (US), pncbank(US), Kontoblick (Germany), Finance Center FCU (US), reaal(Netherlands), UMB Financial Corp (US), bbvacompass (US),bank_of_america (US), FivePoint CU (US), veritycudotcom (US),Chesapeake Bank (US), 1st State Bank (US), FNB’s rbjacobs (South Africa), RichmondFed (US)!
Please do not hesitate to leave a comment and flag any missing key news, milestones or anniversaries.

Top 10s – Most Followed Financial Institutions
Since I started this research, I’ve received regular requests for twitter statistics from all over the word.

Karl Flinders, Deputy News Editor at ComputerWeekly in the UK, has already been using my stats. I invite you to check his recent post Photos: Top 10 Banks on Twitter.

From now on, I will publish my top 10s in three categories: overall, credit unions and insurance. Please feel free to use those insights as long as you mention

My top 10s are based on the total number of followers. On the other hand, the ‘New Following’ and ‘New Updates’ represent the numbers for August (and how they compare to the July numbers) which gives a better indication of the current behaviour of the FIs.
Please note that the data used in this report was collected on 1st October, 1st September, and 3rd August.

Top 10 – Overall
Please find below the top 10 most followed financial institutions on twitter tracked in the Visible Banking Twitter Watch.

Financial Institution
Followers New Following
New Updates
 1. Somerset Mortgage
3. usaa_news
4. Wachovia
5. StateFarmIns (+2)
6. Advanta’s Ideablob (-1)
7. HRBlock (-1)
8. BofA_help (+1)
9. Buergschaftsbank (-1)
10. Ask_WellsFargo
11,388 (+22.9%)
7,970  (+10.8%)
6,534   (+8.3%)
5,378   (+5.9%)
3,669  (+14.2%)
3,634    (+3.2%)
3,595   (+3.5%)
3,379    (+9.1%)
3,326    (+7.1%) 
3,262  (+10.2%)
2,136 (+456)
798  (-166)
-2    (-19)
115    (87)
215   (-12)
-8      (3)
63   (-66)
142    (31)
257 (-377)
186   (-48)
     69   (+5)
64   (+2)
26    (-5)
269    (61)
123   (-23)
267 (+166)
19    (+4)
289  (+11)
24     (-4)
340      (0)

In September 09, the Top 10 most followed Fis added on average 520 (+5)new followers, followed on average 390 (-11) more tweeple, and sent 7.1(-0.1) updates per working day.

There is still only one insurance company and only one European financial institution in the top 10 overall. Well done to StateFarmIns andBuergschaftsbank.

Somerset Mortgage is still on major growth mode! Despite sending an average of 3 updates per working day, their following strategy seems to be paying.
Top 10 – Credit Unions

Please find below the top 10 most followed credit unions on twitter tracked in my Visible Banking Twitter Watch.

Credit Union Followers New Following
New Updates
 1. MSUFederalCU
2. FinanceCFCU 
3. PioneerCU
5. GHCU (+1)
6. YoungFreeSC (-1)
7. BellcoCU
8. BreweryCU
9. U22 Updates
10. ForumTalk (new)
1,208 (+12.5%)
1,113  (+6.7%)
1,102  (+7.9%)
1,069  (+9.3%)
997  (+8.8%)
988  (+2.9%)
943 (+10.6%)
910  (+7.6%)
807 (+18.7%)
746 (+13.9%)
    131    (+2)
11   (-50)
82  (+86)
26   (-10) 
26   (-18)
– 133 (-167)
49    (-4)
36 (+184)
18  (-103)
 57  (+12)
21  (-42)
71 (+5)

  74  (+18) 

75 (-34)
110  (+13)
69 (-21)
0  (-28)
35 (-125)
20   (+5)

In September 09, the Top 10 most followed Credit Unions added on average 85.7 (+18.5) new followers, stopped following on average 54 (-95)tweeple, and sent 2.5 (-0.7) updates per working day.

Top 10 – Insurance
Please find below the top 10 most followed insurance companies on twitter tracked in the Visible Banking Twitter Watch.

Insurance Company Followers
New Following
New Updates
 1. StateFarmIns
2. allstate (+1)
2. allcains (-1)
4. Progressive
5. MyAllstateAgent(new)
6. Nationwide Ins.(-1)
7. VPI Pet Ins.
8. Petplan (-2)
9. CA Health Ins. (-1)
10. FBD Ins. (-1)
   3,669  (+14.2%)
2,505  (+16.1%)
2,404    (+0.5%)
2,022  (+33.8%)
1,614    (+7.3%)
1,501    (+8.1%)
1,461    (+4.7%)
1,446  (+13.4%)
1,134  (+11.5%)
 215    (-12)
61   (-406)
12   (-423)
520   (N/A)
925   (N/A)
20   (N/A)
14    (-25)
-4   (+27)
257     (+1)
60  (+140)
 123   (-23)
131  (+41)
60  (+20)
143 (N/A)
196  (N/A)
108  (N/A)
22   (-14)
16   (-13)
8    (+4)
71  (+25)

In September 09, the Top 10 most followed Insurance companies added on average 286 (+50) new followers, followed on average 208 (+22) more tweeple, and sent 4.2 (+0.6) updates per working day.

Congrats to MyAllstateAgent for entering the top 10 directly in 5th position.

More Twitter Statistics

* Most Followed FIs: 280 (+29) FIs have 200+ followers of which 107 (+21)have 500+ followers.
* The 1,000+ Followers Club: 41 (+5) FIs have 1,000+ followers.
* Restricted tweets: 20 accounts.
* Inactive accounts: only 38 (-120) FIs haven’t sent any updates in September2009. 
* Other awesome twitter lists: I highly recommend you follow Roger Conant who maintains a comprehensive list of credit unions (via@CUTweetTrack),  Sonya J Mills who maintains a list of community banks (via @CommunityBanks), Charis Palmer who maintains a list of banks and bankers in Australia & New Zealand (via @bankingreview), Boris Janekwho maintains a list of German FIs Social Media: Deutsche Banken im Twitter Kurz Test on (via @Electrouncle). Also check Jeffry Pilcher’s twitter list on the Financial Brand blog.

Twitter accounts added inSeptember 09
In September 09, I added the following 26 accounts to my list: AnchorBank, AnthemHealth, AskAmex, Aussie, BeneficialBank, Blue Cross Blue Shield –  BCBSOK, Blue Cross Blue Shield –  BCBSTX, Blue Cross Blue Shield – BCBSIL, Blue Cross Blue Shield – BCBSNM, BobHarperAnthem, BTInsights, choicebank, CitiCardsCanada, CNCE – ActionsCommunes, dbfx, escape_card, fireyourbank – Kentucky Telco FCU, firstindy, Jerusalem_Bank, mecu_limited, neon_card, PayPalAustralia, PNABank, readydebit, SBPacific, Westpacsurryhil.

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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