Price comparison sites are proving to be better at engaging customers via social media than high street banks, with CompareTheMarket.com achieving the highest engagement scores thanks to its meerkat character.

Stickyeyes’ report, which also found that price comparison sites outperform banks in search visibility, attributes social scores out of 100 based on criteria such as the number of fans and followers, sentiment analysis, retweets and Facebook’s ‘talking about this’ metric.

It reveals that among the retail banks social media strategies remain a relatively underdeveloped channel, although First Direct is one of the most progressive operators.

It has integrated its main site with a range of social assets including blogs, a social newsroom, Facebook and Twitter accounts and community threads in order to engage directly with customers.

But it still has someway to go before it catches up with the top performing comparison sites.

Social scores

As mentioned, CompareTheMarket is the top performing brand with a social score of 71.3, thanks to “the cross pollination and integration of their ‘Compare the meerkat’ brand campaign within their social assets”.

The comparison site currently runs dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts for the character that have 811,000 fans and 53,000 followers respectively.

Stickyeyes also breaks down the score by volume and engagement. It shows that Sainsbury’s Bank relies heavily on its volume score, while Tesco Bank and Confused.com have the most robust balance between the level of customer touch points, the volume of discussion and the quality of interaction.

The report states that MoneySavingExpert’s high score is in part achieved through an extensive use of Twitter. A key part of its engagement strategy is producing a rich mix of content that provides the latest information on best financial deals as well as insight and advice into how best to manage your personal finances.

Many of the high street retail banks like Barclays, Nationwide and HSBC have high levels of discussion volume but this is not replicated across social platforms. Furthermore, many of the brands do not include direct links to their social accounts from their websites.

This chart shows how the engagement score breaks down across the different criteria.

 

Content strategy

The report analysed the types of content that the financial brands use to engage with consumers, finding that comparison sites tend to have a far greater focus on tactics that use vouchers and loyalty schemes.

Overall price promotions make up almost a third of the content posted on social networks (30.9%) followed by customer support with 23.7%.

Many brands have created dedicated Twitter accounts for customer service – this proactive strategy allows them to gauge and control expectation and manage brand sentiment.

It’s no surprise that customer support figures so prominently as separate research by Fishburn Hedges shows that 36% of UK consumers have engaged with brands on social, with 40% of respondents in that group stating that they believe social improves customer service.

Furthermore, 65% of them believe that social is a better way to communicate with companies than call centres. 

Clearly consumers expect to be able to use social as a customer service channel, but it is not easy for brands to get the level and tone of the interaction correct.

We recently blogged eight things to consider before you start providing customer service through social and put together a best practice checklist. In addition, we’ve looked at whether Twitter is creating a VIP customer service channel and what defines good online customer service.