With banks working double time to squeeze value out from every last penny, many bankers are taking a closer look at social media and the value it can bring to an organization.
For about a year and a half references have been made increasingly regarding MySpace and Facebook and how businesses can appeal to the masses that visit these sites. Then a couple weeks ago it all broke loose when Ashton Kutcher battled CNN for the first to hold one million followers on Twitter. And then it happened, the tipping point, the day everything changed. The day Twitter became a household word.
Since that day I have been approached by banker acquaintances asking me how they can use Twitter to make them heroes. And in these discussions I found the duality of social media.
The banking industry is one of a handful of industries that is overly regulated and becoming more so every day (thanks TARP!). While bankers see the benefits of using Twitter and social media, they often find it very difficult to get past the associated risks. On the other hand, bankers make their living dealing in risk. As such, it would appear to me that banking is one of only a few industries that is well suited to incorporate the use of social media, warts and all.
So to my banker friends I say, get over it and do what you do best - assess your risks. The first step in any new bank product/service launch is the risk assessment. Risks can originate from the statutory liability and regulatory penalties that are specified by law, or from reputational damage that could result from publicity of noncompliance (see Social Media and Bank Compliance Requirements). Once you get your arms around the risks and feel warm and fuzzy about dipping your ties, get to it.
Of course, as with any implementation, you must have a plan that is well thought our and clearly defined. This involves doing your homework. Speak to experienced social media practitioners by researching them on the Web or meeting them at social media conferences, see what the competition is doing, see what other industries are doing, read The Community Banker's Guide to Social Network Marketing (disclosure: I wrote this free ebook), get the green light from the right people and put your team together.
Unfortunately, today, everyone is still largely feeling their way around. The use of social media in a commercial setting has only just begun. However, there is a large global community that actively supports this effort. So, while the model has not been entirely proven, the successes to date, the support network and the masses of consumers taking to social media should make dipping your toes at least something to consider.
Anyone up for a swim?!