Ivailo Alexandrov joined Fibank (First Investment Bank) in 2011. He has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a master’s degree in Public Communications from St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia, Bulgaria. He took postgraduate studies at the London School of Public Relations and the Sophia Antipolis University in Nice, France.

Ivaylo Alexandrov Fibank Fibank (First Investment Bank) is among the leading Bulgarian financial institutions that have for years dictated the trends in digital communications in Bulgaria. How do you build your digital presence strategy?

Social media have become part of everyday corporate communications and you could hardly find a company that is not present in at least one social network. But I dare say that Fibank is one of the pioneers in the field of digital communications in Eastern Europe.

In June this year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first corporate blog of a financial institution in Bulgaria: https://blog.fibank.bg/news-english.html. It ranks, without exaggeration, among the best corporate blogs in Bulgaria and has won Fibank a number of awards over the years. Our latest research indicates that it is being read by an increasing number of customers who are at the heart of our digital communications strategy.

We strive to position Fibank close to customers are and to develop our various social media channels in such a way as to suit their convenience, preferences and habits. There is a lot of activity going on in our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. 

On Facebook, which is the most popular social network in Bulgaria, we have more than 39 000 followers and this places us well in the forefront of Facebook presence among Bulgarian banks. It is important to note that we always put quality over quantity: the increase in the number our followers is entirely organic, coming from real and active Facebook users.

We maintain 2 Twitter accounts: @Fibank and @AskFibank where we practically have no competition from other financial institutions in the country. Our video content on YouTube has a rather high average number of viewings, without us making any promotional expenses.

We try to provide useful and interesting information, answer the questions of customers and assist them in various situations. For us, the Corporate Communications team of First Investment Bank, this activity is not limited to working hours because we are available in social networks 24/7. I would like to extend special thanks to my colleagues from the department who are the actual persons behind the bank’s blog and social media profiles. Unlike most companies that use specialized agencies to maintain and develop their social network corporate accounts, we do not rely on outsourcing but manage everything ourselves. In this way, we shorten the response time to customer questions and make sure that each response is reviewed by the relevant business unit in the bank. Which in itself is no small task.  

What are the key principles you adhere to in social network communications?

In general, I can outline the following key principles in our communications:

  • Speed and accuracy: Everything that happens online happens extremely fast. That is why we have to keep up pace with the changing environment, the customer demands, the latest developments in communications.
  • Useful and interesting information: We always try to provide a balanced content of up-to-date and useful information about our initiatives, products and services, accompanied by tips and guidelines.
  • Active "listening" to our followers: A key communication skill is to be able to listen to your interlocutor. Online communication makes no exception.
  • Non-stop development, seeking and applying innovations: We continuously aim at bringing innovation in Bulgaria not only with respect to our products and services, but also through our communication and behavior in the online environment.

Tell us about an interesting and successful Facebook campaign.

Sharing content in the social media is the gateway to success in social marketing. Getting users to share your content brings you access to thousands of new potential customers. 

But what makes people want to share content with others? Here I would like to quote a Forbes article (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers ) according to which our emotional responses to content can play a massive role in whether or not we choose to share that content with others. Positive emotions, like joy or excitement, are the most likely to increase sharability. Entertaining pieces of content also encourage us to share. We like to laugh, or be amused, and it makes us feel good to share that positive experience with others.

This was exactly the concept underlying our Fibank Christmas Flash Mob: a campaign we created for our customers just before Christmas last year. Companies around the world and in the US try their best to become part of the Christmas fun and impress their customers with special promotions, events, decorations, advertisements, charity. We also tried to touch the hearts and emotions of our customers and I think we succeeded.

In the week before Christmas, we organized a flash mob with the participation of the unique Bulgarian trio Hypnotic https://www.youtube.com/channel/ and dancer Maria Budinova with her partner. It was staged in front of the Fibank branch at the Paradise Center shopping mall in Sofia and took customers and visitors of the mall by surprise. During the event, we shot a short video clip that became the special Christmas message of First Investment Bank to its clients and the general public. The clip itself https://www.facebook.com/Fibank/videos/ was a great success, with over 126,000 views on Facebook alone! Under it, we posted a contest for Christmas wishes for our fans and followers in which more than 200 people took part. The entire event was launched with an extremely modest budget which is proof that the amount of money invested in a campaign is not necessarily the most important factor for its success.

But what made us truly happy was that we were able to touch the hearts of people and give them a beautiful emotion for the holiday. That was what mattered most to us!