We're all busy people, but every so often we take a break to ruminate about how much more work we seem to have gotten done in pre-Internet times when surfing was something you did in the ocean and being social meant talking to someone in the same room. In one recent survey of CFOs by Robert Half Management Resources, nearly a third of respondents pointed to non-business related Internet use, including social media, as the biggest time-eater at work, surpassing hobnobbing with co-workers, ranked by 27% as the greatest time-waster.
We've been thinking more about Internet and social media use at work in the wake of a recent decision by Morgan Stanley to allow its 16K+ financial advisors to craft their own messages on their work Twitter accounts, as opposed to using canned tweets pre-approved by the brokerage giant. Rest assured, there's still a pre-approval process before individual messages can be posted, but at the very least it allows for some more creativity by those approved advisors who have taken the firm's required online training course.
The decision highlights the tightrope financial services companies are balancing on as they struggle to give workers more freedom to use social media while at the same time follow regulations, shield themselves from potential risk and encourage the most effective use of employees' time. As banks grapple with these issues, we thought some perspective might be helpful.
Social media has been cast in the spotlight as a low-cost, high-value option for companies of all kinds to gain a broader audience and connect with customers and prospects. And it's no secret that social media use by banks is on the rise. According to a recent ICBA study there are 1,773 banks on Facebook and 706 banks on Twitter.
What we find so intriguing is that despite its popularity and rising use, 52% of consumers believe banks use of social media is ineffective and 87% find banks use of social media annoying, boring or unhelpful, according to a March report by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.
These findings drive home the importance of making words count. Bankers need to make certain that social media communications aren't being diluted by constantly shelling customers with a barrage of useless information. This is true whether the social media message comes from a central source at the bank, or individual employees.
Another thing to note about social media is that it hasn't proven particularly effective for dispute resolution. Indeed, the Carlisle & Gallagher findings show that 90% of consumers prefer to discuss their problems in private with their bank and 68% of consumers would never use a social media channel to solve a problem with their bank.
It's also worth pointing out that social media campaigns tend to work best when there's consistency, when you're offering something unique and you're reaching your target audience. Taking the time to determine your social media strategy from the corporate level down helps ensure your efforts aren't for naught.
Don't get this messaging wrong, however. We are not social media-phobes and we don't decry its use or its usefulness for banks. We only caution you to use it with purpose and to try saying more with less. Otherwise like standing at the water cooler, it may amount to just a waste of everyone's time.