Social Media Strategy Review: Citibank India

Bikram K. Singh
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Social Media Strategy Review: Citibank India

This review is a part of our ‘Social Media Strategy Review’ series where we do a 360 degree analysis of a brand’s entire social media activity. You can read the reviews of more brands here.

Banks largely caused the global financial crisis of 2008 and in years that followed, and Citibank had played a major role in bringing the world economy to almost a grinding halt. No wonder so many people dislike banks and other financial institutions. In the light of how people think about banks, it looks very daring for a bank to venture out on a social media journey. But as Citibank has already done that, let’s move forward and see how it is faring in that.

Audience Analysis of Citibank India

As you can see in the image below, a good portion of Citibank’s social media fans consists of men (69.57%), and they belong mostly from 31-40 (37.16%) and 40+ (31.91) age groups. There are some younger fans of the page as well (see the second image below), but to a large extent older audience patronizes the page.

Citibank India Audience Analysis Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Audence Analysis of Citibank India Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

I could witness resentment on the social media sphere. People’s dislike for banks like Citibank can be felt in the negative brand opinion people have about it on social media (see the images below).

Citibank India Brand Opinion Simplify360 Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Citibank India facebook post negative comments

Citibank India Tweets negative

And people may have joined Citibank’s online community, but it appears they did so more to so dissent than to agree with the bank. The negativity flowing on the social media profiles of the brand is in proportion to the age-group slab audiences belong to. If people between 31-40 make the largest strata for the bank, this is also the group which is spreading the negative words about the bank most, and a similar trend can be seen for other age groups as well (see the image below).

Trends of Citibank India Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Overall Strategy

The primary function of social media for Citibank India, as it appears from the posts it has made is to promote its various offerings, services, and activities the bank is engaged in. They have thrown in occasional contests, trivia, and quizzes, but mostly they are Citibank-centric (see the image below). The bank has carried its egocentricity from the traditional media to social media.

Facebook Post Citibank India

Citibank India on Facebook

Facebook spearheads the social media efforts of Citibank India. The bank has 522,000 fans on the social media website, but engagement level is abysmally low for a fan page which has such a big fan base. And the reason for it could be traced to the lack of any content plan or comprehensive Facebook strategy. In most of its Facebook posts, the bank talked about its new product or new feature (see the image below), and this sole focus on itself and its product is pushing the fans away.

Citibank India Facebook post citibank India Facebook post

There is very little on the page to engage fans, which also reflects in the low level of engagement with the page. As you can see in the following image, apart from a couple of big spikes, there is a very few episodes of engagement in the last 30 days. And the immediate reason behind this could be the choice of content that the bank has posted on the wall. Even the quizzes it posts talks directly about the bank’s product (see the second image). Can the primary reason for this low engagement be the overall image of the brand? It is very much possible, at least this is what the comments on above two posts suggest.

Citinbank India Engagement Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Citibank India Engagement post on facebook

In what I saw on the page, it appeared that getting even 100+ like is difficult for the posts made on the bank’s wall. There are though occasions when some posts have crossed 100-mark, and those are the posts that talk about things other than the bank and its products.

Citibank India Post on Facebook

Citibank India on Twitter

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Citibank India does not have any twitter page. Should I have replaced “Surprise” with “Shock”? They only have a global page. People have been talking about and it seems as if there is no one to respond from India.

Tweet for Citibank India

Citibank India Tweet Tweet Citibank India

Comparison with competitor

Standard Chartered is one of the closest competitors of the bank we are reviewing, and like Citibank it has also failed to create a ripple on social media. In fact, it has performed poorly than the reviewed brand. It does not only have a fewer number of fans, but it also has experienced very few incidents of engagement (see the second image).

citibani india and standard charter comparision Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

citibank india and standard charter engagement comparision Source: Simplify360 – A Social Media Analytics Tool

At the time of writing, Standard Chartered had 127,727 fans on Facebook, of which only 1,909 were engaged with the page despite its effort to create some activity through a riding event titled “Tough Trail“ (see the image below). I think the weight of non-engaging, self-promotional posts is pulling the engagement down for this page as well. Yes, the overall image of the sector is very well there, and the activity these banks are doing on social media platform is not helping the image.


The only use Citibank could think of social media is to push its products and services through various promotions and contests. The bank has overlooked the obvious advantage that social media has over the traditional media, which is to build community. But for a bank that caused global meltdown, this appears to be an alien thought. This is the reason it limited its effort to promoting its products, holding some random contests, and making people aware of Citibank’s various activities. When doing so they presumed people would be interested in knowing about those things. It was such a big mistake. Citibank should have used social media to rebuild reputation, which in itself is a mammoth task. But it clearly missed out on that. And how could the social media team explain its absence of Twitter? Do they think it’s meaningless to be there? Heck, they do!

Expert View:

You know a brand is being driven by Global brand guidelines when its social media presence looks like a product brochure. Citibank is a classic example of that. The sad state of its social media presence is because of the lack of effort and. Its funny how brands will spend hours getting the brand personality and imagery right for a TV ad but will not spend half as much time getting its brand personality right on social.

A brand presence on social can’t be so self infested that consumer’s stop caring but instead it has to be about things a brand personality would care about. Like a Citibank should care about global travel, forex rates, business tips and more as its audience is mature and would like to have a knowledgeable bank as a partner.

Yes every 1 and 3 update can be sales oriented but at least 66% of your page should look to add value beyond product knowledge sharing. What’s also shocking that a bank does not get the fact that social media is more than just marketing. Its about customer service as well. If its peers like ICICI can take to social media for managing social CRM it surprises me that Citibank has no resources to do the same. Overall, it is disappointing to see that one of the largest global banks can’t get its social strategy right.

Expert View by Rajiv Dingra Founder & CEO of WATConsult – An Award Winning Social Media Agency.  Analytics support courtesy: Simplify360

Social media Twitter Facebook Customer Engagement Standard Chartered Customer Relationship strategy review Citibank India