The Royal Bank of Scotland (more commonly known as RBS) was founded in 1727, with around 700 branches in the UK. It is a part of the RBS Group, alongside Natwest Bank and Ulster Bank.
I’ve always wondered how a bank could use social media to promote their products, announce upcoming features and also help customers. I wanted to see whether they can have any success in any of these fields and whether the fact that banks like RBS, who have 1.8 personal customers, will be able to handle all the news and assistance on one Facebook page or Twitter feed. Could it be too busy for them to deal with their customers online?
I’ll take a look at the main networks – Facebook and Twitter – and also whether they have success on other networks.
The first thing I notice on the RBS Facebook page is the header:
It states ‘Open All Hours’ – the words that any social media person will dread to read (as although we love our jobs, we don’t really want it to be a 24 hour thing). All social media is ran by a human, and, at some point, these people need to sleep/eat/take a break. However, RBS do advertise their Facebook team as being present “24/7” – so maybe it can work, and hopefully it does!
The Royal Bank of Scotland has almost 80,000 fans on Facebook, which when compared to other banks is rather low. Their RBS Group partners Natwest have almost 300k and competitors Santander have over 200k. When you look at the ranking for ‘banks’ on Socialbakers on Facebook, these are the top 3 with the largest audience: Barclays, NatWest and HSBC.
When compared to the market share for 2014, we see some interesting trends. The UK page for Barclays is number 1 in the social ranking, but they only have the second largest amount of market share. RBS and Lloyds are nowhere to be seen in the ranking above, and Barclays has moved from second in the market share to first in the social ranking.
RBS also don’t have a verified tick (something other banks do) – which may seem strange, but you wouldn’t trust a Twitter account for a bank that wasn’t verified, would you? It’s always good to ensure that you’re seen as the official account, as some people may be wary of the internet and anything that isn’t verified.
Their content on Facebook is a mix between photos, videos and links. They have funny updates about relevant days – such as Father’s Day bank notes. This is play on the notion of students/teenagers who borrow from the “Bank of Mum and Dad” (their parents) – and also to try and attract fathers – male customers between 30 and 50 who may need a new bank account:
They post videos about upcoming features, which sometimes include their customers – such as when announcing Apple Pay (see below). This shows that they are user orientated, and their message is based on their customers and the people of the bank.
They also keep users updated about problems (including when payments disappeared from some accounts earlier this year). This can be a place for customers to voice their problems/anger/support and they can then help in comments from here.
When it comes to dealing with customer comments and complaints, they’re pretty good. They always send personalised responses, and never reproduce answers. They tend to push people towards either emailing or DMing them (which of course is sensible if there is sensitive or confidential information involved).
However, they do ignore some complaints – which isn’t good for any brand. We’re always taught that you should engage with any complaints – especially as they can escalate and just get worse. They do engage with comments on their updates, ensuring that anyone who has a problem is able to solve it, and they always aim to close any issues they’re currently working on.
Overall, the RBS Facebook presence is pretty good, with a high level of content and regular updates. However, don’t ignore complaints from paying customers!
On Twitter, there is only one account for the RBS Group (which also includes Natwest and Ulster Banks) – found at @RBSGroup – and it has over 25k followers.
It only tweets out news or updates about any of the banks involved – however they are good at using hashtags and at-mentions, ensuring they keep on trend with every day occurrences:
For any queries that get sent their way, they mention the relevant help account – i.e. (@RBS_Help) which has only 9k followers:
@RBSGroup hi guys, just had my card declined, plenty of money in the bank and nothing waiting to go out. Any ideas? :(
Over on the RBS Help account, Twitter cards are posted in an interesting manner – to promote news, content or upcoming features:
A new way to pay with your Royal Bank debit or credit card. #ApplePay https://cards.twitter.com/cards/18ce53wugai/md1g …
Photos are sometimes shared, with good hashtag and mention technique:
However, it seems that the help account isn’t always too helpful. Even though they can get up to 1,000 tweets a day at busy periods (the spike here was due to the missing payments problem with some accounts):
…many people are not happy with the responses they’ve received – whether it be about unhelpful tips:
Lol at @RBS_Help sending me 'June's helpful tips' - here's one for you...get better systems as they are poo!
…or whether what they’re being told to do doesn’t help the situation:
@rwang0 Sorry to hear that Ray. Have you cancelled your card yet? PW
yes. that’s been done. but that’s not too helpful=) @RBS_Help
Sometimes, it can take a while to reply, which when you need money can seem like forever:
A few people complaining about the little bits, such as the music or the staff that aren’t very helpful:
@chicamusique Sorry to hear that, Poppy. What's the problem - perhaps I can help? IB
@RBS_Help i am tearing my hair out with your endless repetition of rubbish music and incompetent staff
Mirroring the Facebook approach, RBS always try to be friendly and personal on Twitter – even sometimes adding in funny, “non-brand” messages:
@GaryRuthven Happy to hear we could help you in your sleepy state Gary. DW
In general, their Twitter etiquette is good – they use it to post news and updates, as well as helping customers. They don’t reply to all tweets, but they do always try to close a case. Their personal and friendly approach is always something that should be used in customer service situations, with a dose of humour being healthy in the right instance.
I’d love to see a clever use of video or Vine in the future, however it could be difficult for such a company to translate content into video form. We’ll have to wait and see!
In terms of other networks, RBS do have a Google+ and LinkedIn presence, but they’re both very basic.
Their Google+ page has 1,500 followers, but only two posts – a “test”, and another to announce that they are “now using Google+” (which they aren’t…). With brand pages, you should either use them all, or have a few that you use more often than others. Don’t leave some to die, as it will never look good.
On LinkedIn, they do regular updates about the company, new employees and job openings, with images on every update (some images are stronger than others). They don’t cross-post the content from Facebook and Twitter, but mix it up with official updates. It’s at a good level, and they know what works – keep it up!
To conclude, it’s a basic presence on social media but I suppose that’s all a bank can do.