Citi, E*Trade Top

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- E*Trade Financial ( ETFC), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Citigroup ( C) ranked the top three financial services companies most talked about within social media networks in 2010.

According to proprietary research conducted by digital marketing company Zeta Interactive and obtained by TheStreet, online broker E*Trade received the most so-called "buzz" of all financial services brands last year. E*Trade was also the second highest buzzworthy company in all sectors reviewed, behind only the retail sector's Amazon ( AMZN), Zeta Interactive says.

However, compared to 2009, Citi made the most improvement in rankings, rising four spots to be the third most talked about financial firm in 2010, according to the findings.
Citi

After a tough three years in the financial sector due to the capital markets and housing meltdowns, the findings are one way to take the pulse of consumer sentiment from the growing population that is using social media.

"There is no other brand in the financial services sector that has gotten this high of a positive ranking," Zeta Interactive's CEO Al DiGuido said in an interview about E*Trade's ranking. DiGuido attributes the high marks to the continuing evolution of internet services by financial services firms.

"2010 was the year of 'make it easier for me to be more efficient,'" DiGuido says, adding that brands like E*Trade have excelled in providing price vs. value of services.

On the other hand, retail brands like Bank of America ( BAC) (new to the list and ranked overall seventh) have "done a tremendous amount of activity in terms of marketing and being out there in the face of customers," DiGuido says, despite the immense foreclosure and mortgage putback issues that have plagued the Charlotte-based bank.

Citibank, Citi's retail banking brand, seems to also be garnering improved sentiment by customers, despite the company's troubles of the past three years.

Zeta Interactive uses technology to scan more than 100 million blogs and online sites including Facebook and Twitter to assign an overall "Zeta Buzz Ranking," which factors in both volume and positive or negative tone of posts each brand receives, it says.

While Chase received the highest posting volume in 2010, it received the lowest amount of positive commentary among the top 10 list at 72%, down from 88% in the prior year.

Words most associated with Chase included "service," "location," "ATM," "debit," and "card," the report says.

Chase, BofA and Citi comprised the bottom three in terms of percentage of positive posts among the top 10, at 73% and 78%, respectively. Citi's number was unchanged from 2009, despite the increase in posting volume.

Zeta says anywhere between 70-80% is an average number.

Once again, E*Trade had the highest percentage, 97%, of posts written in a positive light about the company. Words most associated with an E*Trade posting included "fast," "easy," "efficient," "online," and "trade," Zeta Interactive says.

UBS ( UBS) (ranked tenth and new to the list) had the second highest percentage of positive postings at 90%.

Two financial brands that were on the 2009 list but did not make to the most recent list were U.K.-based Barclays ( BCS) and Mellon. (Bank of New York acquired its trust bank rival Mellon Financial in 2007 to form BNY Mellon ( BK).)

Investment banks Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Merrill Lynch (bought by BofA in 2008) scored among the lowest in terms of positive commentary, among all sectors.

Top words used in relation to Goldman Sachs included "scandal" and "failure," the Zeta findings say, reflecting the Securities and Exchange Commission's charges against Goldman last spring over alleged disclosure conflicts and fraud in certain mortgage-backed securities.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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