We've all heard the Aesop fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. In the story, the hare, speedy and full of bravado, fails to win the race against the slower tortoise.
The financial services industry is undergoing its own version of the fable with respect to social media. On the one hand you have firms such as Chase, giving away $1 million dollars through Facebook. On the other hand you have firms such as Morgan Stanley, reluctantly entering the world of social media by getting every tweet, LinkedIn post and other social media comments pre-approved by "corporate" before making the messages public.
While it is important for every firm to understand the influence of social media, it is just as important for every firm to do it in a manner that is consistent with the culture and governance style of the firm. Some firms, such as Chase, are very comfortable jumping into social media with both feet. We'll call them the hare. This is a function of the culture at Chase. Some firms, such as Morgan Stanley, are more comfortable taking calculated steps. This too is a result of the corporate culture. We'll call them the tortoise.
Unlike the fable, this is a race where there is likely no loser. What is important here is that organizations move into social media at a pace at which they are comfortable. As stated on this blog many times; most important is for firms to actively "listen" to social media to determine what is being said so that appropriate responses can be provided. Beyond listening (which IS mandatory for all), every firm should move at a speed at which they are comfortable.
Some firms will train and trust their employees as brand ambassadors and unleash them to do their thing on social media. These firms will have no problem sleeping at night. Other firms will limit employee access to social media and will screen and pre-approve all messaging. For these firms, this is the only way they can sleep at night. While social media proponents will push for the former, the reality is that either approach will work. What is important is that the firms implement something in order to remain visible and competitive.