Wednesday, April 30, 2014

8 Steps to Protecting the Organization Against Social Media Risks

According to Marc GobĂ©, in his book Emotional Branding, “the Web has fast-tracked careers, turned unknowns into celebrities, built and destroyed brands and reputations, and – against all odds – helped elect a black candidate President of the United States.”
This phenomenon has occurred as a result of achieving a tipping point in social media usage. While the exact date that social media became ubiquitous in American life is unknown, it is suggested that it occurred sometime between 2012 and 2013. According to the Pew Research Center in its December 2013 report, “Social Media Update 2013,” 73% of online adults used social media in one form or another. At that level of adoption it is difficult to argue that social media is merely a fad, pastime, or periodic diversion...[READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE]

Monday, April 7, 2014

Brand Ambassadors in the Age of Social Media

Back in late 2007 I started to see the effect that social media was having on the sales and marketing landscape. While few banks and financial services companies had made the leap into social media, packaged goods companies were jumping in knee-deep. 

As an entrepreneurial banker I was thrilled by the potential that social media could have on managing reputation, improving marketing effectiveness, and increasing sales. As a result, in January 2008, I released an e-book on the topic – “The Community Banker’s Guide to Social Network Marketing.” This was the first published work that addressed the use of social networks by banks.

  Community Banker's Guide to Social Network Marketing

PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE

Social media provides a cost-effective method for “spreading the word.” However, I have found that  a recommendation made by a trusted source will always trump a targeted advertisement or viral meme. This of course is because People Do Business With People – not corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and definitely not videos or photos. Social media’s sales power does not come from its ability to serve up cheap targeted ads or funny cat videos.

Social media’s sales power comes from its ability to create peer-to-peer conversations – many of which include product recommendations from trusted sources, that result in sales. So long as the person making the recommendation is a trusted party ("influencer"), the recommendation will go a long way in steering the sale towards the recommended product or service. The challenge with social media is not "does it work."  It does.

The challenge is finding ways to scale its sales capability. While business owners, CEOs, and other traditional influencers can actively participate in social media conversations through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms, their time is scarce and their networks are limited. What organizations seeking to leverage social media must do is find ways to scale the benefits of social media and increase the number of influencers. Enter Brand Ambassadors.

BRAND AMBASSADORS

Brand Ambassadors have been around for many years – and they are everywhere. Visit any industry convention, sporting event, concert, or street fair and you will see the Brand Ambassadors working the floor. They are the high-energy men and women handing out samples, answering questions, passing out bumper stickers, and taking pictures with passers-by, among other activities.

Brand Ambassadors are everywhere because they work. They take the multi-million dollar corporations and put a human face on them. They are the smile, handshake, helpful answer, and compliment consumers remember when they think of the brand. But the best part about Brand Ambassadors is that they are ordinary people. They are effective because People Do Business With People!


   Brand Ambassador 

Every company has a cadre of Brand Ambassadors ready for deployment.  This group of people is called employees! Traditional Brand Ambassadors are required to have knowledge of the company history, its products, its culture, and its values. These are exactly the same things that employees already know – and live – each day.

Organizations seeking to scale the benefits of social media must create a framework that treats every employee as a Brand Ambassador. Organizations should invest the necessary time and money to train and unleash their armies of influencers. With institutional knowledge in one hand and social media skills in the other, employees can act as the greatest form of Brand Ambassador.

EMPLOYEE = BRAND AMBASSADOR = INFLUENCER = BRAND EVANGELIST

Similar to the old school Brand Ambassadors working a convention floor, today’s social media-enabled Brand Ambassadors also represent the organization to the outside world. Today, social media has enabled Brand Ambassadors to use tools such as social networks, blogs, and other forms of social media to conduct their influencing activities.

Instead of relying solely on senior members of the organization to influence the marketplace through press releases, media interviews and other appearances, organizations can empower employees to go out and evangelize on behalf of the organization. Another important consideration is that the general public trusts its peers much more than it does a company CEO or other high-ranking company official. This makes employees much more influential than the high paid CEO.

According to Tom Blackett in Brands and Branding (Bloomberg Press, 2009), “when employees are excited by the proposition they will help to sustain it and communicate it to customers, suppliers and others through their enthusiasm and commitment.” Therefore, to the extent that an organization can properly motivate its employees to act as Brand Ambassadors, employees can become an incredibly effective tool for influencing stakeholders. The maintenance of a strong cadre of Brand Ambassadors will result in a stronger brand, improved customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and strong financial results.

According to blogger Mike Bailey ("Beyond Engagement: Unleashing the Power of Employee Advocacy"), “on average, when employees share something with their social networks, each one reaches 20 times more people than a typical brand sharing with the same number of followers.” This makes employee Brand Ambassadors not only a good idea, but a profitable idea.

CHIEF BRAND AMBASSADOR

An effective social media-enabled Brand Ambassador Program requires a champion at the highest level of the organization. Effective Brand Ambassador programs that rely on the organization’s employees must have the owner, CEO, or some other top ranking individual act as the CBA, or Chief Brand Ambassador.

The Chief Brand Ambassador must ensure that the organization gives more than just lip service to the Brand Ambassador Program. The Chief Brand Ambassador must invest appropriate resources into the program, expect results from the program, hold people accountable for results, integrate the program into the organization’s overall sales and marketing strategy, and acknowledge the program as vital to the success of the organization. The Chief Brand Ambassador must believe that social media combined with employee ambassadors can create an intangible asset that can produce very tangible results.

In order for the social media-enabled Brand Ambassador Program to succeed the organization’s leaders must believe in the power of social media. An organization that treats social media as a fad or a waste of time will have a difficult time convincing employees of its power to influence and will not achieve success.

DIRECTING THE EFFORT

Once the decision is made to commit to a social media-enabled Brand Ambassador Program the organization will need someone to care for and manage the program. The Chief Brand Ambassador must select an individual that has a genuine appreciation for the power of social media. The Director of the Brand Ambassador Program must be well versed in the potential risks and rewards that come with empowering the workforce through social media.

A common mistake made by many organizations is to place social media in the hands of low-level employees - or interns! Social media efforts should be managed by experienced personnel with a great deal of institutional knowledge.  Since the Director will manage the types of content to be shared, a strong understanding of the organization is critical.  Further, due to the potential risks involved the Director should possess a level of maturity, experience, and knowledge to protect the organization from reputational and compliance issues.


Director 

A Brand Ambassador Program will empower and unleash employees in the social media universe by training, inspiring, and encouraging them to utilize social media to "spread the word." Depending on the organization’s social media strategy, these employees may use personal social media accounts, organizational social media accounts, or both, to conduct their activities. 


Before unleashing Brand Ambassadors organizations must ensure that employees are well trained, understand their role, and recognize that their actions may have both a positive and negative effect on the organization, and ultimately, the organization’s success.


The Director must work with internal stakeholders to develop content that can be easily shared by Brand Ambassadors. Content can take the form of  text, photos, video, audio, or another form of communication.  The Director must also work with internal stakeholders to share best practices relative to content development and distribution. In addition, the Director must ensure that content is monitored and results are reported to senior management and the board of directors.

MANAGING THE DOWNSIDE

Brand Ambassador success requires that employees commit to the organization’s code of conduct (e.g., respectful tone, free of profanity, etc.) whenever they interact on a social media platform. Employee Brand Ambassadors must understand that the actions they take on social media platforms may be attributed not only to them, but also the organization. Therefore, whether on or off the clock, employees must be aware of the effect that their interactions on social media platforms can have on the organization.  It is the Brand Ambassador Program Director's job to manage these risks to a level commensurate with the organization's risk appetite.  In other words, risk should be managed to the point of letting management and staff sleep at night.

Blogger Linda Tucci describes in the TotalCIO blog at TechTarget.com (“Social Media Risks That Will Make Your Hair Stand on End”) an embarrassing instance involving an executive at a public relations firm. The seasoned public relations executive was flying to meet with a major client. Upon flying to and arriving at the client’s hometown, the public relations executive tweeted that the client’s hometown was one of those places where he would rather die than have to live in. An employee of the client’s firm read the tweet and passed it on to senior officials at the client firm. To say that the public relations executive had some explaining to do is an understatement. The embarrassment caused to the public relations firm by its executive was further exacerbated by the fact that the public relations executive was meeting with the client to pitch, of all things, social media communications!

The public relations executive story noted above is an example of a major concern with social media. As more and more employees use social media for personal reasons, more and more of the employees’ personal conversations will inadvertently spillover into the employees’ professional lives.

Consider an employee that posts an inappropriate (from the organization’s point of view) comment on a LinkedIn group. The comment could be directly attributed to the organization based on information contained on the employee’s LinkedIn profile. Or consider an employee that posts an inappropriate photo on Flickr while in a company uniform.

The point is that even if the organization restricts employee use of social media at work or even if the organization chooses to not to participate in social media altogether, there is still potential risk arising from the activities of employees while on their own time. These employee activities may create uncomfortable, damaging and even legal liability for the organization. Employees should understand that they are all “Brand Ambassadors” and that being a “Brand Ambassador” means acting and responding in an appropriate manner. Anything less may result in significant damage to the organization.

Risk management is an important element of any initiative that involves social media use.  Many incorrectly believe that risks associated with social media usage are technology risks that can be addressed through technological solutions.  This is not the case.  Social media risks are people risks. Organizations may be able to control employee access to social media platforms on the company network.  However, organizations have no ability to enforce such restrictions on employee-owned and other devices.  A comprehensive view of these "people risks" can be found in The Human Resources Guide to Social Media Risks.


Human Resources Guide to Social Media Risks


A MATTER OF POLICY

While every organization would like to believe that its employees are smart, capable and masters of common sense, every employee has the potential to “blow it” every now and then. As such, every organization must address employee use of social media through a formal, written social media policy.  This requirement applies whether or not employees are communicating on social media in an “official” capacity or on their own time.

The social media policy should provide guidance to employees regarding the topics that are open for discussion. Organizations operating in largely unregulated environments can provide simple guidance such as requesting that employees use common sense. Organizations that operate in tightly regulated industries (e.g., securities, banking, healthcare, etc.) should, at a minimum, provide topics that are off-limits due to regulatory restrictions. These topics can include legal matters (potential or current litigation), financial information (e.g., earnings results/expectations, etc.), and other topics specific to each regulated industry.

The complexity and comprehensiveness of the policy should be commensurate with the risks.  For example, a small, single location organization where information flows continuously and oversight is abundant may require a less complex policy statement than a company with a geographically diverse workforce.

Organizations may include in the social media policy a requirement that states that employees keep the organization’s logo and other protected intellectual property off of the employees’ personal social network pages, blogs, profiles, etc. The organization may also prohibit employees from using the organization’s e-mail address when registering for personal-use social media sites. With respect to employees that maintain personal blogs, the organization should require that employees include a disclaimer that the views expressed on the blog are those of the employee and not of the organization.

RULES OF THE ROAD

Social media is built upon the concepts of honesty and transparency. The social media community is not very forgiving when it comes to companies and employees that share information that is intentionally misleading or altogether fraudulent. While inadvertently incorrect information can be forgiven, it is best to have employees interact honestly and with complete information or not at all. In addition to the issues of honesty and transparency is the issue of protocol. Paul Gillin, in his book The New Influencers (Quill Driver Books, 2009), states that the social media community “is developing into an extraordinarily civil and deferential culture.” As such, rude and uncivilized behavior is also not tolerated and can reflect poorly on the organization.

While companies should encourage civility, honesty and transparency when interacting on social media platforms, certain information should be off-limits and not disclosed by employees. This information includes confidential company and customer information, information related to legal disputes and other sensitive information. The release of this type of information should be reserved for senior management.

BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

Organizations should have an incident response process in place to deal with employee social media content (comments, video, photos, etc.) that create a need for action. Further, the social media policy should enable the organization to demand that employees remove any damaging comments. The policy should state that compliance with this requirement is a condition of employment. Further, employees should understand that noncompliance with the social media policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.


  In Case of Emergency

MAKING THE MOST OF A PRECIOUS RESOURCE

Employees are every organization’s most trusted ally. Through social media, organizations are able to unleash them in a manner that transforms employees into advocates for the organization, evangelizing through their social networks on behalf of the organization. In the 1980’s there was a Faberge Shampoo commercial that spoke of users of the shampoo telling two friends and those friends telling two friends, and so on and so on. Fast forward 20 years. Now imagine an organization’s employees telling their friends, and their friends telling their friends and so on and so on. With proper policies, training, and oversight, the use of employees as Brand Ambassadors can go a long way in maximizing the organization’s brand.

DOWNLOAD THE WHITEPAPER!

 Whitepaper



If you have questions about managing social media risk in the workplace contact Social Risk Services at Info@SocialRiskServices.com.


  Social Risk Services Logo

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Social Media Risk Boot Camp for Financial Institutions

CHECK OUT THIS BOOT CAMP BY SOCIAL RISK SERVICES

Agenda and Registration Information
Friday, May 16, 2014
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
$175 Per Person (includes lunch)
PAYMENT INFORMATION AT BOTTOM OF PAGE

Social Risk Services will host a Social Media Risk Boot Camp for Financial Institutions in Los Angeles on May 16, 2014 at the beautiful Torrance Marriott South Bay.  Space is limited! Early registration is encouraged. Continue reading for agenda and registration information.

  Torrance Marriott South Bay


Social media influence continues to grow. Contrary to earlier opinions by many in the financial services industry, social media is not a fad.  Every year more and more financial institutions commit to social media in one form or another.  However, many financial institutions do not adequately consider the legal, compliance, operational, and reputational risks, among others.

The Social Media Risk Boot Camp for Financial Institutions will provide attendees with the tools needed to prevent associated risks.  This Boot Camp will provide a primer on social media use by organizations and employees, risk assessment methodologies, internal control designs, policy and procedure tools, and training tools.

Financial institutions use social media in many ways including: advertising, marketing and promotions; new loan and deposit account origination; customer surveys;  customer service; and, community outreach. This form of customer interaction tends to be less formal and less controlled than traditional bank methods.  It also tends to be more democratized (not top-down but peer-to-peer).  As such, it presents unique challenges to financial institutions relative to their risk management practices.

On December 11, 2013, the FFIEC issued its Final Guidance on Social Media. To meet regulator expectations, financial institutions are expected to manage potential risks associated with social media usage and access. The Final Guidance is intended to bring forth the compliance, legal, reputational, and operational risks associated with social media usage.

The Social Media Risk Boot Camp for Financial Institutions will provide attendees with the tools needed to comply with the Final Guidance.  Tools include conducting risk assessments, designing internal controls, developing management reports, creating policies and procedures, and providing effective employee training.


TOPICS COVERED
  • Introduction to Social Media Use Among Financial Institutions
  • Analysis of the FFIEC Final Guidance on Social Media
  • Preparation of Social Media Risk Assessment
  • Creation of a Social Media Policy and Procedures
  • Development of a Social Media Training Program for Employees and Directors

RECOMMENDED AUDIENCE

This informative session is best suited for Chief Operation Officers, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Risk Officers, Social Media Personnel, Marketing, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officer, Information Security Officers, Chief Auditors, Chief Compliance Officers, Operations Officers, Board of Directors, Information Technology Personnel, anyone responsible for audit.

 ATTENDEES RECEIVE A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION

Each Boot Camp attendee receives a Certificate of Completion showing completion of the program. The Social Media Risk Boot Camp provides six hours of instruction. Attendees are encouraged to maintain a copy of the certificate in their employee training file to document their participation and completion of the training program.


SPEAKER

The Social Media Risk Boot Camp for Financial Institutions will be led by Jesse Torres.  Mr. Torres is a career banker with over 20 years of leadership experience.  Mr. Torres wrote the first book on social media and banking in January 2008 (Community Banker's Guide to Social Network Marketing).  Mr. Torres has subsequently written other social media-related books, including his most recent book, The Human Resources Guide to Social Media Risks. Mr. Torres is not only an engaging speaker, he also brings with him experience as a former OCC bank examiner, KPMG consultant, and banker.

QUESTIONS?

Visit the event Web site here.  Direct any questions to Info@SocialRiskServices.com.


CLICK 'PAY NOW" TO REGISTER SOCIAL MEDIA RISK BOOT CAMP FOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Go All In? Not Until You're Ready

In her recent article, "7 Things Banks & Credit Unions Don't Do In Social Channels (But Should)," Julia Verbrugge, Marketing Coordinator at Andera, makes some good recommendations for bankers and credit unioners.

Julia's "seven things" are:

  1. Go All-In
  2. Get That Strategy Ironed Out
  3. Don't Just Inform...Entertain
  4. Build Your Community Through Personal Interactions
  5. Resolve Customer Issues Publicly
  6. Get Creative
  7. Monitor and Measure
As a banking social media veteran (all of five years!) I agree with Julia with one caveat...Don't go All-In until you know what you're doing.



Julia makes a great point by stating that dabbling in social media will not produce meaningful results.  It's true, the occasional tweet or status update will not gain favor with very many people.  Julia reminds us that an effective social media program requires a dedicated effort with the commitment of human and financial resources.

While she's right, "no pain, no gain," Julia's article does not touch on the need to know what you are doing before going all-in.  With the FFIEC drawing attention to social media and regulators carefully scrutinizing social media implementations, organizations need to be prepared before going all-in.  As with poker, going all-in requires that the institution be cautious as one wrong move can cost you everything on the table.  In the case of social media this means regulatory, legal and customer issues.

So while I agree that real results will only come once an institution fully commits to social media, I also believe that each institution must take a path of testing and learning before pushing forward all the chips.  What do you think?


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Quick and Dirty (and Effective) Social Media Training Tool

ATTENTION BANKS USING SOCIAL MEDIA!  The day you have been fearing is here!

With the recent release of draft guidance by the FFIEC regarding social media use, social media is now front and center.

Conversations with auditors and examiners is revealing an interesting audit and regulatory expectation - mandatory social media training for all employees and directors.

As social media matures and more and more senior managers and directors feel comfortable with the use of social media, auditors and regulators have begun to look more closely at social media use by organizations.  Unfortunately, there still exists in many cases a lack of understanding on the part of internal auditors and examiners in terms of what exactly what and how social media works.  This ALWAYS spells trouble for bankers.

As we move forward as an industry in terms of social media adoption financial institutions must focus on three primary areas:

  1. Social Media Risk Assessment
  2. Social Media Policy
  3. Social Media Training
Social Media Risk Assessment

I have previously covered and provided social media risk assessment tools.  See my post "Social Media Risk Assessment Process - Part 5."  This is one of the most visited posts - with good reason, auditors and regulators expect institutions to conduct a risk assessment before deploying social media.

Social Media Policy

I have also previously covered and provided a sample social media policy.  See my post "Sample Social Media Policy for Banks."  This is another one of my most visited posts.  Even institutions that do not use social media are being required in some cases to have a policy confirming that fact!

Social Media Training

The final piece of the trifecta is Social Media Training.  Due to the widespread use of social media within society, auditors and regulators are now treating social media like they do areas such as information security and the Bank Secrecy Act.  Increasingly auditors and regulators want to see social media training for all new employees.  The thinking is that social media can do some real damage if employees are not aware of the risks.  As such, just like information security and money laundering, social media is equally risky.  In addition to new employee training, there is an increasing expectation of annual training and director training.  All this is new and sudden and many organizations have not been prepared.

In an effort to assist the banking industry, Pan American Bank made available on its YouTube channel a 30 minute social media training video.  Pan American Bank does not guarantee that the video will meet auditor or regulator requirements but it is a good starting point for those that need to quickly ramp up their employee and director training relative to social media use.

Check out the video and make use of it for training if it meets your needs.  And good luck with your upcoming audits and examinations!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sample Social Media Policy for Banks

A frequent request is a sample Bank Social Media Policy.  Well here it is.  This sample policy is bare bones and is intended to be customized for each institution's specific social media strategy.

Enjoy.


BANK SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY

Bank recognizes the importance of the Internet in the day-to-day operations of the Bank.  From marketing to reputation management to recruitment of new employees, the Internet plays in major role in the Bank’s overall strategy.  And now, the Internet is generally synonymous with social media and its popular social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.  Use of Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, wikis and other online social media vehicles are commonplace.

This policy is intended to assist employees in making appropriate decisions about work-related blogging social media interaction.  This policy must be used in conjunction with other tools provided to employees, including the Acceptable Use Policy, Employee Guide to Information Security, Human Resources Guide to Social Media Risks, and related training.

The lines between work and personal life can become blurred. In general, what you do on your own time is a personal decision. However, activities in or outside of work that affect your job performance, the performance of others, or Bank business interests are a proper focus for Bank policy.

WHAT THE BANK EXPECTS TO GAIN FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

As a community bank, Bank recognizes the importance of our employees joining in and helping to shape conversations regarding the Bank and the communities we serve.  Bank is committed to supporting employees desire to interact knowledgeably and socially on the Internet through social media.

Contributing to the online conversations about banking or our communities means being present where and when they are taking place. As technology tools enable an easy exchange with community members, governmental representatives, clients, and the public, we encourage employees to share the insights and expertise gained through work at Bank. This can be done without first asking permission provided this guidance is read and followed.

“TARGET” OF THE BANK’S SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS

The Bank’s social media efforts are targeted at several stakeholders:

1.    Existing Customers:  To provide existing customers with information and conversation/engagement opportunities relative to ongoing activities at the Bank and in the community.  Ultimately, the goal is to convert a “customer” into an “evangelist” for the Bank.

2.    New Customers:  To create sufficient awareness in the local marketplace that results in new customer originations – deposit, lending, and other services.  The marketplace is full of competitors with similar “commodity” products and services.  Social media allows the Bank to “humanize” itself and set itself apart from the competition.

3.    Media:  Social media provides the Bank with a platform to communicate with the media regarding its ongoing activities and rich history.  Through social media the Bank can embed video and other media that can assist the media when developing content.  For example, a bank video can be reposted and potentially result in viral distribution.

4.    Regulatory Agencies:  Social media provides a channel through which the Bank can highlight compliance with regulatory requirements.  For example, social media allows the Bank to easily demonstrate its compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act.  Further, social media provides a convenient mechanism through which to receive consumer complaints or positive feedback.

5.    Community At-Large:  Social media introduces Bank to the community at-large.  The content created on social media provides an information distribution channel through which interested parties can learn about Bank.

EMPLOYEE ACCOUNTABILITY

Being able to share your and the Bank’s activities without prior management approval means the Bank trusts you to understand that by doing so you are accepting a higher level of risk for greater rewards. Each Bank employee is personally responsible for the content he or she publishes on any form of social media. Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks.

You may have identified yourself as a Bank staff member or the Bank as your employer, either directly or as part of a user profile. If so, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself to the Bank’s stakeholders, your business contacts, and your colleagues and peers.

Senior management have special responsibility with their Internet presence by virtue of their high profile position within the Bank, even if they do not explicitly identify themselves as being affiliated with the Bank.  Such senior level staff should assume that his or her posts will be seen and read by Bank stakeholders and that they will presumptively associate such posts with the Bank.

Trust is an essential ingredient in the constructive culture we are striving to achieve at the Bank. We can’t be there to guide every interaction, so we expect you to follow these guidelines and advice to help you better balance the risk vs. reward ratio.

SOCIAL MEDIA OVERSIGHT

The Social Media Manager is responsible for managing the Bank’s social media strategy.  The Social Media Manager, or an assignee, will provide training and monitor activity on an ongoing basis.  Inquiries regarding the Bank’s social media strategy must be forwarded to the Bank’s Social Media Manager.

The Social Media Manager is responsible for determining “community managers.”  Community managers are employees and third parties that are provided with authority to act as administrators on the Bank’s behalf.  The Social Media Manager must select individuals as community managers that possess the requisite technical skills as well as understand the risks associated with social media.  All community managers report directly to the Social Media Manager relative to matters related to social media – regardless of their role within the Bank.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

These guidelines will help you open up a respectful, knowledgeable interaction with people on the Internet. They also protect the privacy, confidentiality, and interests of the Bank and its customers.  Note that these policies and guidelines apply only to work-related sites and issues and are not meant to infringe upon your personal interaction or commentary online.  Regardless, all employees must determine the potential impact that “personal” interactions may have upon the Bank and its customers, vendors, and other stakeholders. Ultimately, employees are held accountable for ensuring that interaction is appropriate and consistent with this policy and other Bank guidance.


·         The goal is to ensure the Bank’s voice is part of the larger conversation relating to community banking and the communities the Bank serves.  Do not embark before understanding the conversation. First, explore the topic being discussed, read about it and contribute only when input adds or advances the discussion. Include an especially relevant link, since doing so further connects the Bank to the wider Web and can result in greater connectivity for the Bank.

·         Keep in mind that posts are visible by all with online access. It may be fine to share your work at the Bank as part of your participation in the online community, etc., but you DO NOT have permission to reveal any information that compromises Bank policy or public positions.  By that we mean don’t share anything that is proprietary and/or confidential to the Bank. For example, it is not okay to share any content that required a non-disclosure agreement or is part of a confidential management or Board discussion.  Other items that may not be disclosed include any customer and vendor information that is not publicly available. 

·         If you are developing a Web site or writing a blog or making any other social media comment that will mention Bank and/or our current and potential products, employees, partners, customers, and competitors, identify that you are an employee of Bank and that the views expressed on the blog or Web site are yours alone and do not represent the views of Bank.

·         Unless given permission by your manager, you are not authorized to speak on behalf of the Bank, nor to represent that you do so.

·         If you are developing a site or writing a blog or making any other social media comment that will mention our company and / or our current and potential products, employees, partners, customers, and competitors, as a courtesy to the company, please let your manager know that you are writing them.  Your manager may choose to visit from time to time to understand your point of view.

·         You may not share information that is confidential and proprietary about the Bank or its customers. This includes information about upcoming product releases, sales, finances, number of products sold, number of employees, Bank strategy, and any other information that has not been publicly released by the company.  These are given as examples only and do not cover the range of what the Bank considers confidential and proprietary. If you have any question about whether information has been released publicly or doubts of any kind, speak with your manager before releasing information that could potentially harm the Bank, or our current and potential products, employees, partners, and customers. Before embarking on any such endeavor employees should be familiar with the Bank’s other applicable policies, including the Acceptable Use Policy, Employee Guide to Information Security, etc. 

·         Bank logo and trademarks may not be used without explicit permission in writing from the Bank. This is to prevent the appearance that you speak for or represent the company officially.

·         Speak respectfully about the Bank and our current and potential employees, customers, partners, and competitors.  Do not engage in name calling or behavior that will reflect negatively on the Bank's reputation. Note that the use of copyrighted materials, unfounded or derogatory statements, or misrepresentation is not viewed favorably by the Bank and can result in disciplinary action up to and including employment termination.

·         The Bank encourages you to write knowledgeably, accurately, and using appropriate professionalism. Despite disclaimers, your Web interaction can result in members of the public forming opinions about the Bank and its employees, partners, and products.

·         Honor the privacy rights of our current employees by seeking their permission before writing about or displaying internal company happenings that might be considered to be a breach of their privacy and confidentiality.

·         You may not sell any product or service that would compete with any of the Bank's products or services without permission in writing from the Chief Administrative Officer.  This includes, but is not limited to training, books, products, and freelance writing. If in doubt, talk with your manager or the Chief Administrative Officer.

·         Recognize that you are legally liable for anything you write or present online. Employees can be disciplined by the Bank for commentary, content, or images that are defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous, or that can create a hostile work environment. You can also be sued by Bank employees, competitors, and any individual or company that views your commentary, content, or images as defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous or creating a hostile work environment.

·         Media contacts about the Bank and our current and potential products, employees, partners, customers, and competitors should be referred for coordination and guidance to the Chief Administrative Officer. This does not specifically include your opinions, writing, and interviews on topics aside from the Bank and our current and potential products, employees, partners, customers, and competitors.

·         Make sure that your online activities do not interfere with your job performance.

·         Respecting differences, appreciating the diversity of opinions and speaking or conducting yourself in a professional manner is expected at all times. If you aren’t completely confident about what you intend to share, you should seek management input before you post.


HOW WILL SOCIAL MEDIA BE IMPLEMENTED AT THE BANK

The Social Media Manager of the Bank is accountable for determining the Bank’s Social Media Strategy.  The Bank’s use of social media is largely to develop a “community” of Bank supporters and to raise awareness of the Bank’s brand.  This is largely done through interaction on mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger, and Twitter.  The specific platforms used may change from time to time as technology evolves and audiences shift. Regardless, the guidelines above remain in effect.  Questions regarding the Bank’s use of social media should be directed to the Social Media Manager.

TYPES OF BANK ACTIVITIES/POSTINGS

The primary purpose of the Bank’s social media activities is “community building.”  While the Bank will from time-to-time promote products and services, the primary focus is the creation of an online community where the Bank can share its history and mission and where stakeholders can maintain conversations with the Bank.  The Bank does not “censor” comments made by third parties and only removes comments if they are considered obscene, pornographic or similarly inappropriate.  As such, it is the Bank’s policy to remain transparent and not delete derogatory comments.  Instead, it is the Bank’s policy to attempt to understand the origin of any derogatory comment in an attempt to “correct” any error or misunderstanding caused by the Bank.  Management is responsible for monitoring content on an ongoing basis (generally daily).

The Social Media Manager is responsible for determining “community managers” given authority to post on behalf of the Bank.  The Social Media Manager is responsible for ensuring that such employees are “social media savvy” and understand social media risks.

TYPES OF SOCIAL MEDIA USED BY BANK

Currently the Bank utilizes Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  These platforms provide for varying types of interaction.  Some are more information based such as LinkedIn.  Others are more collaborative, such as Facebook.  Currently the Social Media Manager is responsible for managing these accounts.

OTHER FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Regardless of any organization’s use of social media, Internet users can make comments that affect the Bank on locations outside of the Bank’s social media sites.  As such, the Bank utilizes Google Alerts and SocialMention.com to monitor (listen) to conversations in social media and on Web sites that may affect the Bank.  Such reports are delivered directly to the Social Media Manager on an ongoing basis.  The Social Media Manager is responsible for determining appropriate action, if any.

TRAINING

On at least an annual basis the Bank will provide social media training to all personnel.  The training is intended to convert employees into social media evangelists while ensuring safe and sound use of social media.  Compliance with the guidelines noted above will largely ensure that employees act in a manner consistent with Bank expectations.

AUDIT

The Bank’s social media activities will be audited as part of the Bank’s normal internal audit schedule.  Auditors will audit as appropriate.  For example, audits related to IT, consumer compliance, fair lending and CRA may all contain a social media component.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Community Outreach and Retail Banking


According to a recent article written by Alan Mattei of consultancy Novantas LLC, community outreach is fundamental to retail banking.  The problem banks face is determining how to best respond to the plethora of social platforms that include blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.


Mr. Mattei argues that social networking is forcing banks to think twice about the singular importance of branch banking.  As more time is spent online, shopping habits, including those related to bank products and services, have morphed and as such, banks must find ways to meet with customers at their new destinations – social media platforms.

As evidence of this transition, Mattei provides examples of two branchless financial services players that have begun to market products and services through social platforms: Ally Bank and American Express.

Ally’s online outreach includes a blog with self-help tips and expert advice; a continuing heavy stream of articles that are broadcast and posted on its Website; posts on Facebook; tweets; and infographics. Such activities have generated millions of Website visits and have become a driver in deposit account origination, according to Forresteor Research.


American Express launched its “Sync, Tweet, Save” program, which entices customers to sync their cards with their Twitter accounts. Under this arrangement, promotions from merchants and American Express are pushed to the customer via Twitter, with discount offers concurrently activated at the merchant point of sale.

Mattei states that today’s innovators in the use of social media are going beyond traditional banking’s defensive measures (e.g., reputation management).  Regardless, Mattei makes a point for walking before running by stating that “as a reasonable first step, institutions within the top 100 should establish an individual set of surveillance routines and contingency response plans for social media. This includes participating in conversational threads as appropriate; responding to customer service requests; diffusing negative events; and generally monitoring “the voice of the customer.” Much of this preparation remains to be done, although there are a few standout examples of banks with strong antennas in the virtual space.”  Here Mr. Mattei is spot on.  Mr. Mattei’s only error is that he has limited his advice to the top 100 when in fact every institution should follow this advice.

Mr. Mattei argues that social media and banking is about proactive involvement.  He argues that banks must learn to “proactively participate in the online dialogue, not just react in trying circumstances.”  The ultimate goal accord to Mattei is strengthening brand presence and building product awareness through:
  • Community Building
  • Two-Way Conversations
  • Content Threads
Mattei states that banks must begin incorporating social media into the overall marketing plan – despite the lack of maturity in the market.  Just like the online marketing scene created chaos for bankers yet bankers adapted, so too must bankers adapt to social media despite the chaos.  Mattei states that “institutions will have to start somewhere, just as they did when the Internet took off ten to fifteen years ago.”


Mattei attacks the ROI question head on when he states that “it is a mistake to begin using strict return on investment (ROI) calculations to evaluate social media initiatives right now.”  He compares today’s social ROI debate to that of online billpay of yesterday.  He points out that what years ago was a horrible ROI example, today has been an incredibly profitable service that creates serious retention.

For a second time in the article Mattei makes reference to the “majors” by stating that “for major banks, real traction with social media will require a dedicated team.”  While the advice he gives is sound, it applies to all banks.  Regardless, depending on the success and the leverage of social media within an organization, even smaller shops may want to consider community managers to run the day-to-day social operation.  Should they be outsiders or bank employees?  That is a conversation (debate) for another day.

Mattei goes on to address the use of social media for customer service.  He advises to start small and simple and figure out what works and what doesn’t.  He suggests using analytics to find the nuggets of gold that may result in an effective social effort.

Ultimately, Mattei states that “to mobilize for this new channel, executives must embrace the notion that building ‘social equity’ has long-term value for the institution. They then need to allocate the required resources, build the right teams, and craft a long-term strategy for transformation.”


I generally agree with Mattei.  I wish his focus would not have been so heavily slanted towards larger shops.  It is, after all, community banks that are best positioned to take advantage of the social media revolution.  Understandably, community banks are not likely going to spend the bucks on social like the top 100.  Regardless, it does not help the industry when the smaller players are ignored or left out of the "conversation."

Some useful links:  Social Media Risk Assessment Template