= Subscriber content; or subscribe now to access all American Banker content.

How Many Bankers Does it Take to Send a Tweet?

In his call for ''high-frequency banking,'' BankThink contributor Philip Maymin asserted that government interference has put banking’s current pace on par with the beleaguered U.S. Post Office. The decided lack of speed hasn’t just made it more difficult to complete the most basic transactions; it’s also slowed innovation.

As one commenter noted, a perfect example of this creative lag can be seen in how financial institutions currently use social media – or rather, how they don’t.

''How much bureaucracy does it take for someone in a bank to post on Facebook [or] Twitter?'' BankerBud wrote. ''Quite a bit, in fact. You have manager review, compliance review, legal review, etc. before you even get to post a comment (if you are even allowed to).''

In a subsequent discussion on American Banker’s Facebook page, commenter Rich Vetstein was quick to agree. ''The red tape is ridiculous,'' he wrote. ''Two word policy. Be Professional.''

It's hard to suggest financial institutions should use social media with reckless abandon. As Richard Magrann-Wells wrote on BankThink a year ago, in a column arguing that stockbrokers should not be on Twitter, there are high risks associated with any and all forms of corporate communication. (Hint: the regulatory whip is one of them.)  

Another commenter postulated that it's not the government, per se, that has financial institutions slow on the Twitter.

''My experience at banks is they've always been wound up about media,'' @mckpartners tweeted. ''I think it's their over controlling, out-of control nature.''

How much social media vetting do you see in the industry? Is it necessary, and if so, why? Leave a comment below.

Jeanine Skowronski is the deputy editor of BankThink.



(11) Comments



Comments (11)
Financial services professionals use social media plenty. It's called Bloomberg.
Posted by jeaspleen | Friday, July 27 2012 at 4:37PM ET
This is the problem that SocialWare solves, allowing Financial companies deal with compliance, yet, letting people engage in social to push engagement with customers and increase profitability. Check them out: @Socialware
Posted by mstephan | Friday, July 27 2012 at 3:59PM ET
25 years in marketing and PR has taught you that selling the 'next shiny object' makes you money. Agree with your opening comments, they are, however, expensive options for financial institutions under serious pressure from regulatory bodies.
Posted by rstj | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 5:16PM ET
25 years in marketing and PR has taught me that a solid strategy, a documented plan, and consequential "top-down" accountability beats a bunker mentality every day of the week. By which I mean that banks, especially now that their reputations have taken a sound shellacking, cannot afford to bunker down on new communication channels any more than they can afford to let non banks hijack mobile payments. When bank executives realize that social media is having a similar transformational impact on their customers that Internet banking triggered, they will understand that strategy, planning and top-down risk management should be applied. Twitter is a part of the current marketing mix that reaches and influences banks' current and emerging customer base. I've seen executives pooh-pooh everything from email marketing to blogging to SEO, and miss early-mover advantages, simply due to their lack of inquisitiveness. Banks/businesses that reject social media have a bigger issue than not embracing Twitter - they are stuck in a 20th century marketing bunker.
Posted by DepthCharge | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 3:21PM ET
I think that Roubini's suggestion about the 20 hanging bankers would get plenty of media attention--if carried out. Im sure it would be the most-watched event in the history of mankind. Even if pay per view. Yeah its a very dangerous world---
Posted by OLDER&WISER | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 1:07PM ET
In my mind, it's called Social Responsibility. Everyone loves to tout the upside of social media. The reality is that it returns very little, in terms of sales, by channel. Additionally, it brings a host of customer service issues, not the least of which is the necessity of 24 hours a day policing due to customers potentially putting non-public personal data on the social site. The other brutal downside is that a brand that has taken years to grow and cultivate can be burned to the ground in moments if a poor management decision goes 'viral' on Facebook or Twitter. In those moments, you would pray you DONT have followers. Viral can kill as well as help. Banking is supposed to be's where people put their money. It's held to a higher standard that almost every other business. The minute you start to apply the rules of traditional and evolutionary marketing to banking, without concern for the risks, you are walking into dangerous territory from a customer, reputational and regulatory perspective. The rules are there so you think a little harder about how to apply the things most people do with far too little consideration for the potential outcome and liability. Embrace it. It will keep you employed and keep you out of jail.
Posted by rstj | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 1:06PM ET
Last post was poorly formatted. Here's the link again. Hopefully this shows better this time around.
Posted by mrjessetorres | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 12:52PM ET
Tweeter went down today and I went into withdrawl. Does that give you any idea? The social media is totally raw, unfiltered personal opinions, grudges, rumor mongoring, etc. And some in the media and press take social media comments as if they were gospel. Very dangerous world.
Posted by commobanker | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 12:50PM ET
A good example of banking and Facbook-ing is Pan American Bank's Facebook page. Little sales, lots of community building based on plenty of training.

Jesse Torres
President and CEO
Pan American Bank
Posted by mrjessetorres | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 12:50PM ET
Yes it's necessary. Can you imagine the PR problem for a bank if what was tweeted or put on Facebook wasn't properly vetted.
Posted by EFB | Thursday, July 26 2012 at 12:45PM ET
What I find as interesting is the concern about "social media". I didn't know that the term referred only to "electronic social media". Granted, I am older and left Banking in 1991 before Al Gore's invention became popular. But I used social media all of the time - newspapers both articles and opinion pieces I wrote or to which I contributed, radio call-in shows where I was a guest or actually had a show, and I was ALWAYS accessible to the established media "outlets". I figured that I rather have a chance to tell the entire true story than have someone know half of the events and create a fiction about the rest.

Did I feel that I could be criticized or lose my job for saying the wrong thing. Sure, if it was really the wrong thing like, "The Bank has just received a Cease and Desist letter from FDIC/OCC so dividends might be reduced". Or if I disclosed plans for a friendly acquisition ahead of regulators and the other Bank's board knowing about the pending deal.

Maybe it's because I was trained, at an early age by my father, to keep my mouth shut until I know what I want to have repeated. I have often broken that rule and extracting my size 14 shoe from my mouth is never pleasant, but I have found that non-disclosure is worse than a faux pas.

Perhaps the best example was a time when I was the senior member of the Mass Nat'l Guard's Public Information Office stationed at a small post just north of Boston. We had troops billeted there during the Boston School busing crisis in the 1970s. A fight broke out in one of the barracks as one soldier was speaking to his mother. She heard the commotion and asked what the noise was from. He son, not wanting to fib to mom told her. Mom called the Boston Globe about a riot at the post. I took the call when the Globe reporter call the post. He stated that he had a report from mom that there was a riot and would I like to comment. I indicated I would not like to comment but knew I had to or a story would appear in the morning anyway, most likely wrong.

We were not popular in Boston during the call-up anyway so I didn't want him to add fuel to the fire. So, throwing caution to the wind and using "common sense" I explained that two or three troops had gotten into a fight and the only thing hurt was a couple of prides, but that there had been no riot, nor even a brawl. I invited him to come up if he felt the need to (at 1AM). He declined and quoted my "couple of prides hurt" in the morning edition. Within minutes of seeing the paper myself, I received a call from my boss's boss's boss's boss (General) asking what I thought I was doing. I told him "Damage Control". He thought for a minute and admonished me not to do it again unless I called my Commanding Officer first, or if I had to.

Perhaps that's the wrong kind of example but I think not. In using Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook or... common (uncommon) sense has to be used and it must be assumed that NOTHING is confidential - NOTHING. Sometimes the only thing worse than saying/printing the "wrong thing" is saying nothing at all.

Richard Isacoff
Posted by riisacoff | Wednesday, July 25 2012 at 7:56PM ET
Add Your Comments:
Not Registered?
You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.
Already registered? Log in here
Please note you must now log in with your email address and password.