OCBC Bank and DBS in a spat over social media success

OCBC Bank’s claim it’s the leading “social media” bank in Singapore has sparked retaliation from arch-rival DBS.

In a media release, OCBC said it had more than 578,000 fans on Facebook, 9,900 followers on Twitter and 21,000 followers on LinkedIn. OCBC Bank claimed to have developed the “largest Twitter following among local banks” since its Twitter account was created on 17 June 2011. It added its Facebook page was started on 12 September 2012.

Quoting Socialbakers, OCBC Bank said its corporate Facebook page grew by 40% in 2014 alone, with interaction peaking in August during the promotion of the Juventus versus Singapore football match.

But social media experts have advised against looking at the number of followers or fans as a measure of success.

Don Anderson, managing director of We Are Social, said the discussion should be bigger than the numbers mentioned – it needed to be about purpose.

“Corporations ideally need to avoid attaching themselves to vanity metrics such as likes and followers,” Anderson said.

“At the end of the day, these metrics are largely meaningless. While response times to customer enquiries are critical to brand reputation, it’s the quality of the engagements and interactions with consumers that count most and add value to the organisation.”

Anderson added that brands, particularly those in the financial services sector, were still struggling with treating social media largely as a customer service platform.

“That’s not a complete relationship. While OCBC, DBS and UOB are making progress in this area in adopting more conversational approaches through content that is relevant to their customers, and not just about themselves, they still have a long way to go to truly comprehend the opportunity that social media provides.

“Are banks really listening to their customers or just simply reacting? In many cases it’s the latter, and that doesn’t necessarily lead to a long-term relationship, loyalty or ‘brand love’.”

In an earlier interview on the limitations of social media data with Marketing, Christopher Wong, CEO of Klarity, talked about how Hong Kong brands use this as a measure of campaign effectiveness, then went on to critique this measurement.

“In my opinion, that is a very superficial way of looking at things. Having fans does not necessarily equate to true brand enhancement or real leads,” Wong said.

Comments and shares are much more powerful because they show affiliation to your brand, but they are limited to very active fans – it is possible to have engaged less active fans who do not leave a comment or share your post, he added.

Wong also said the path-to-purchase is often an indirect process and customers may have to be channelled through well-known sales and marketing funnels, therefore a careful analysis of how social media adds to a brand is needed. (Read also: 6 limitations of social media data).

In reaction to OCBC’s claims, Edna Koh, senior vice-president of group strategic marketing and communications for DBS Bank, has refuted the claims and told Marketing that in 2010 DBS was the first Asian bank in Singapore to adopt a regional corporate Facebook page which now has more than 590,000 fans across its 12 Facebook pages established for different audiences.

She added that over the past few years, DBS had adopted a multi-channel approach across the region and the bank also had more than 36,000 fans on Twitter and 100,000 followers on LinkedIn. Also quoting Socialbakers, Koh said DBS had an average response rate of 100% in August 2014 and an average of about 95% on Facebook for 2014.

“It is important for us to keep pace with the latest technology and be part of our customers’ social network,” she said.

“We have also enjoyed success engaging our customers with YouTube videos. For instance, the recent “8 types of friends you’ll meet at Lohei” video created for Lunar New Year garnered over 280,000 views on YouTube alone. The post on Facebook had close to 370,000 views, likes and shares.”

When contacted by Marketing, OCBC said the release was focused on its corporate social media channels such as OCBC Bank’s Facebook page and did not factor in product and event channels such as FRANKbyocbc and the OCBC Cycle Facebook page.

“In this instance, combining the two would mean we have a Facebook following of more than 600,000 fans. In addition, the media release focused on our Singapore-centric social media channels, as opposed to regional channels,” it said.