NEW YORK: Financial brands in the US are making greater use of social media for marketing and customer services purposes, with Twitter holding a lead over Facebook.

A study from Corporate Insight, the research group, tracked the activity of around 70 major players in the industry on an on-going basis to assess developing strategies in this area.

It reported that 67% of the companies monitored are officially present on Twitter, measured against 57% in October 2010 and just 15% in the autumn of 2008.

Turning to Facebook, 59% of the sample are currently leveraging this platform, rising from 56% in 2010 and 32% in 2008, meaning Twitter has become the number one social media tool for marketers.

More specifically, 45% of organisations utilising Twitter have at least two feeds, and 38% of firms using Facebook similarly boast multiple brand pages on this service.

American Express and Capital One each run five separate Facebook accounts, and together possess six of the 20 financial pages with the most "likes" on the social network.

Bank of America has the best position on Twitter, with six different accounts and three of the 20 profiles attracting the highest number of followers on the microblog.

More broadly, the study suggested that companies have typically established a "primary" corporate account on these websites, and then created a range of secondary feeds looking at topics and products.

Ameriprise, KeyBank and Scottrade are among the firms employing Facebook for recruitment pages, while American Express has promoted its ZYNC card, offering unique rewards to customers, on the site.

JP Morgan Chase has used the same channel to champion its Chase Community Giving philanthropic programme, and Nationwide Insurance has also made use of Facebook on behalf of its comedy ad campaign, the World Greatest Spokesperson.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo have become customer service leaders on Twitter, and Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney are now communicating with advisors via this route.

"Facebook is a more challenging environment for businesses because, in order to be successful, they must foster a relationship with their fans," said Alan Maginn, a senior analyst at Corporate Insight. "With Twitter, they can concentrate more on the value of the content they produce."

Data sourced from Corporate Insight/Forbes; additional content by Warc staff