American Express was named as the financial services firm that best utilizes social media, according to report from New York-based research firm Corporate Insight. The report also found that financial institutions are increasingly looking to Twitter over Facebook and other sites as the social media channel of choice for communicating with customers,
The report, titled "Social Media Leaders," examined the more than 90 financial services firms and offered rankings for four types of social properties: Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, proprietary communities and blogs. The research was conducted on companies that Corporate Insight tracks continuously through its Monitor services, including annuity issuers, banks, brokerages, credit card issuers, insurance companies and mutual fund firms.
The firm weighed three main factors – audience, content and engagement – when evaluating each company's social media properties, putting extra emphasis on engagement.
"Engagement is truly what sets social media apart from more traditional business-to-consumer communications, and this direct interaction with current and prospective clients is a major benefit of a well-executed social media offering," said Alan Maginn, senior analyst and social media expert at Corporate Insight.
Among the trends noted by Corporate Insight are that Twitter is embraced more by financials services firms than Facebook, and that Twitter is increasingly being used more as a customer service channel.
Corporate Insight identified American Express as the one firm that stood out among financial institutions using social media. "Amex manages to use more social media channels more effectively than any other firm," added Maginn. Corporate Insight claimed that Amex was a pioneer in the social media space, activating its first online community in 2006. In 2007, the firm launched OPEN Forum, its most successful proprietary community, which focuses on small business owners. The card issuer also maintains five Facebook pages that draw a large and engaged audience, ranking high in social value. The American Express corporate Twitter account is the overall leader across all financial services firms, said Corporate Insight.
"Social media will only increase in importance as a critical channel for clients and companies to communicate," added Mike Ellison, president of Corporate Insight. "We will continue to monitor this space closely and offer actionable recommendations to our clients so they can maximize the impact of their social media efforts."