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Is your bank drunk at the twitter party?

May 16, 2011

Last week there was an excellent article published on www.banktech.com called “Banks Mining Social Networks with Analytics Tools.”  In addition to many thought-provoking insights, the article contained this quote:

“Dan Marks, chief marketing officer at First Tennessee in Memphis, views social media as a big cocktail party.  You want to go and listen, find out what people are saying, maybe jump in with a comment or a witty quip once in a while — but you don’t get to control the conversation or pitch products, he says.”

Dan makes a great analogy: social media is very much like a cocktail party.  Some parties are more fun than others but we all know that only a few party goers really make the party worthwhile.  The majority of guests are fillers (much like the random cast of characters that populate my dreams at night), with a small number of drunken idiots and braggarts.  I’m afraid that many banks out there are the drunken idiots at the cocktail party that is social media.

Allow me to explain.  Below are five recent tweets I pulled from a Twitter List of community banks.  I did tweak the tweets – say that five times real fast – to protect the identity of these drunken bankers but the content is unchanged.

Bank Tweet #1: “Today is Earth Day!  Celebrate by going paperless at Bank X and signing up for E-Statements!  Link.”

Cocktail Party Translation: “Today is Earth Day!  Let’s celebrate by weeding my lawn.  Oh, yeah, sorry about the non sequitur everyone…”

Why I say this: Celebrating Earth Day by signing up for estatements isn’t something new to our industry, as a matter of fact, I’d be surprised if anyone in our industry didn’t mention estatements when talking about the earth or trees or green things…they go hand in hand round here.  BUT…customers and prospects aren’t turning to twitter to be nudged into good stewardship, especially not when it is cost savings for the bank disguised as good stewardship.

Practical advice: Earth day is good, but let’s provide 8 tips to celebrate, number 4 of which could be estatements.

Bank Tweet #2: “Which #savings account is right for you?  Link.  #finance #money  #budget. “

Note: Link went to blog post about finding the right Bank X savings account.

Cocktail Party Translation: “What is wrong with the women at this party?  I’m tossing out tons of signals that I’m available but nothing.  #eligiblebachelor!”

Why I say this: Hashtags are useful when trying to draw the attention of fellow event attendees (#finovate) or fellow industry peeps (#socialmedia).  When you toss 4 similar hashtags into a tweet about your products, you quite simply aren’t sure about the use of hashtags.

Practical advice: Figure out how to use hashtags.

Bank Tweet #3: “BankX Welcomes Shareholders to town!  The BankX Annual Shareholders Meeting is today at the Douglas Theatre.”

Cocktail Party Translation: “My rich parents are coming to visit next weekend.  We will be drinking from cups made of gold.  Try to keep your manure carts off our lawn, peasants!”

Why I say this: Only shareholders care about shareholder meetings and not many of them at that.  And how many of them are on twitter?   And why draw attention to this meeting since the bank’s growth rate was negative for the first time in 5 years?

Practical advice: Welcome your shareholders at the welcoming reception…preferably not a virtual one on Twitter.

Bank Tweet #4: “We are now on the map!  Go to our homepage and click the map to find the Bank X office nearest you.”

Cocktail Party Translation: “I think I’m drunk.  Where’d you go?  Oh wait, I closed my eyes.”

Why I say this: This tweet may have actually been from a drunk person.  Perhaps written late at night and then set up for a midday post.  Otherwise there is no explanation as to why this would ever need to be tweeted.

Practical advice: Stop drinking.  Stop tweeting.  Perhaps, both?

Bank Tweet #5: “TRIVIA: What percentage of the popular vote did Abraham Lincoln get in the election of 1860?”

Cocktail Party Translation: “I know it’s off topic, but how much change do you think I’m carrying in my pockets right now?  There will be no prize if you guess correctly, only the satisfaction of knowing.”

Why I say this: There were a total of seven “trivia” tweets in the same day from this bank.  None related.  None with a prize.  None with a point you might say.

Practical advice: The pursuit of trivia is a board game, not a social media strategy.

This blog post is not meant to be snarky, simply an observation that despite the large volume of resources about social media for FIs– some random examples here, here, and here – many institutions deem it necessary to forge onward without a plan or pleasant cocktail party personality.

Here is my advice. Think about what kind of person lights up a party?  I would imagine it’s an engaging storyteller type who is smart, funny, and rides the fine line between having a good time and drunken tweeting.  Be that engaging person.  Be informed and ready with a great and relevant story for your party guests.  Be that kind of bank on Twitter and Facebook.

Or, if that’s too much to shoot for, simply focus on making sure you’re not “that guy.”  “That guy” is the one they talk about in shushed tones after the party…the one who now has only one eyebrow because the other one was shaved off by another drunken idiot.

What’s your advice for helping get these banks on the wagon?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 11:34 am

    I love this post. The Twitter/cocktail party analogy is an often used one, so it stands to reason you’d equate bad Twitter behavior to bad cocktail party behavior. Sure, everyone knows not to get so drunk you black out in the bathtub, but there are some more subtle things you may not realize you’re doing that it’s always good to be aware of before you head in the door, not the next morning when no one will return your calls.

    As a rule of thumb I try to include links in what I tweet out unless it’s a holiday greeting to all, reply to someone, or ends in a question. Otherwise it’s the cocktail party equivalent of standing on a table and making proclamations all night. And no one likes a proclaimer.

  2. May 26, 2011 5:18 pm

    Humorous but true post about banks on Twitter. They need to understand the concept of engaging content. Quote from Ben Franklin sums it up: “Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about.”

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