The Klout-Influenced Credit Score Would Give Credit Where It Isn’t Due

*This post originally appeared on MyBankTracker

If you’re an insufferable person who speaks on social media panels with any degree of regularity, you’re probably more aware of what your Klout score is than you are your credit score. After all, you can check your Klout score all day — you can only check your credit score once a year from each bureau. Who has the time? You live an active social media lifestyle, and retweets probably matter more to you than your mortgage rate. You are pretty terrible. Well we’ve got good news for you: at Movenbank, your social media influence might soon influence your credit score — a terrifying thought!

Movenbank, a soon-to-launch financial services company, launched something called the CREDscore in private alpha. It is comprised of a number of different factors: your actual credit score, your personality and, yes, your social media influence. Strange as it sounds, Movenbank might actually make business decisions based on your Klout — or something a lot like it.

First, Movenbank puts you through a financial personality quiz to better understand your relationship with money. You’re assigned a “type”: salesperson, professor, accountant, rockstar, entrepreneur, officer, artist (wouldn’t want to get that one!), breadwinner or trader. For now, this is just filler, but it might factor into your score in the future.

The CREDscore also takes into account actually important financial information like annual income, how much you save per month, how much you have saved up, and your FICO score. So there is hard data factored into the score.

But users can also connect their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus accounts to give Movenbank a better sense of your social media influence. The company explains why in a blog post that describes different credit profiles that a CREDscore could benefit. Here’s Ashley, someone who has fallen on hard times, but has a lot of LinkedIn contacts:

Then there’s Ashley. Ashley’s a bit older than Matt and Jessica, but he lost his job a few years ago. Then he lost his house. Ashley’s suffering. The bank foreclosed and now he can’t get any opportunity to get new things started.

But he has an idea. He wants to launch a new business that makes funky trainers that tweet and check-in on foursquare as you run.

Sounds stupid, but don’t be fooled. According to LinkedIn, Ashley has a heavy influence on some potential investors who are sniffing around the ‘Tweener,’ as he calls it. The only thing is he has a problem. The mainstream financial service providers don’t want to know him.

Here at Movenbank though, we love Ashley.

We love Ashley because we can see he’s on the cusp of a breakthrough. But we can’t just give Ashley all the things he wants, so we offer him a deposit account and a limited loan facility to get the business started. The loan facility increases over time, as his Klout increases.

One reason why underwriters typically rely on hard data when assessing credit risk, is because dangling lots of money in front of people who need it desperately can often make them less than honest. Low-documentation and no-documentation loans are called “liar loans” for very good reason: if you’re self-reporting income to qualify for a mortgage, it’s easy to fudge it upward a bit, especially when your mortgage broker encourages you to. Despite what Movenbank would like to think, it’s very easy to fake social media influence — it’s just a pathetic and humiliating experience most of us would readily avoid. Unless we really wanted a loan from Movenbank, perhaps.

This sort of thinking only makes sense if you’re constantly surrounded by tech entrepreneurs all day, as they network and jockey for money and influence. Most of us never need business loans for shoes that integrate with social media. Our financial needs are personal: saving for our first home, retirement, our kids’ education, a vacation, whatever.

But in its defense, CREDscore addresses these issues, too. A higher CREDscore might mean better terms for customers on their accounts: higher savings rates, lower borrowing costs, or lower fees. Strangely, the range is not yet public; those who have been given CREDscores have not been told whether it is good, bad, mediocre, anything. Just: here’s a number, it might mean something later.

Movenbank will launch to the public later this year. And people with parody Twitter accounts might get a better rate on their savings account than you do. It’s strange, because one might reasonably suspect that introverts might have better financial habits than people who tweet every thought or joke that pops into their head. Being impulsive online is different from being impulsive at Macy’s, sure, but being freed of the rigors of a social life would likely cut 40% of the spending out of my monthly budget.

Klout is likely as good a measure of creditworthiness as waistline. Sure, I can infer a lot of lifestyle differences between the man with the 44 inch waist and the man with the 30 inch waist, but just because one probably spends more of his income on cheeseburgers, it doesn’t really tell me how likely he is to pay back a loan — and it definitely doesn’t mean he’s worthy of lower fees or higher savings rates, or vice versa.

But the CREDscore is still in its testing phase. It’s quite possible that none of this will come to pass. So you can stop spamming LinkedIn VC groups — you might end up burning bridges.

About Willy Staley:  Willy is a 25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, he is unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Forget Social, Banks Need to Customize Their Accounts

*This post originally appeared on MyBankTracker

What does it take for a bank to understand its customer base? A whole lot, according to Ernst & Young, which has published one of the most exhaustive and comprehensive studies on what customers expect out of their banking relationship. In a survey of almost 30,000 banking customers in 35 different countries, the study ultimately shows that bank loyalty worldwide has been disintegrating as customers spread their wealth among multiple banks and search for the most convenient ways to access their money.

Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be — nowadays people want to find the cheapest and most convenient banking experience. In the United States this has caused a 7 percent increase from the previous year in customers willing to switch banks as well as an equivalent decrease in those adamant on staying with their current banks. Customers in the U.S. have also been migrating away from keeping their money in a single bank in favor of opening accounts in multiple banks. Over the past year, the amount of customers with an account at only one bank has decreased from 51 percent to 42 percent and increased in those with two, three or more accounts.

An omni-channel banking world

However, perhaps even more important than the fact that customer loyalty is decreasing are the reasons. The study offhandedly references a term that Cisco has coined: the omni-channel approach to banking. As opposed to the multi-channel approach, where customers are bombarded by the many different ways to access their bank accounts, which do not necessarily coincide or complement one another, the omni-channel approach seeks to enjoin all the banking channels so that they work together harmoniously.

Cisco published an entire study just to explain and present this term only about a month ago. Now E&Y reference it as commonplace: “Move from multi-channel to omni-channel distribution: Banks need to look beyond multi-channel distribution, recognizing that customers care more about convenience than about channels.” Coupled with the data that consumers have been leaving their current banks, both partially and fully, it seems that consumers are already choosing which channels they prefer to access, whether or not banks are prepared.

Consumers prefer different channels for different banking functions, which the study only breaks down based on simple or complex transactions. But with all the different channels — branches, call centers, email, mobile apps, etc. — banks must understand which are most appropriate and when.

Banks must also understand that social networks currently are pretty much inept and any efforts to engage customers on social networks either fall short or are simply not worth reporting. Only 13 percent of customers use social networks to discover a bank’s products and services — and it goes down from there. Compare that to China, where it’s at 81 percent of customers.

Customize

The answer for banks trying to garner broad customer loyalty is not reaching out over Facebook or Twitter or even connecting with customers, it’s in personalization. Customers need to see that banks are versatile and flexible. While they search for the right bank to fulfill their needs, banks should be asking themselves, “How do we ensure that we are the ones filling those needs?” Some customers are looking for the best rates while others look for the best online experience. Still others need more products. With multiple amounts of services offered, banks must tailor them to different customer packages. Customers know what they should be paying for their experience and are willing to pay for certain extras.

Blanket debit card fees placed was a bust, but an essentially comparable fee works on the prepaid market. If a bank needs extra funds, it should increase its service and charge accordingly. In this way it will keep customers happy, while providing a fair value for its service. The omni-channel approach is more than just technology — and it is here to stay.

You can find the full study by clicking here.

About Zachary Ehrlich: Zachary holds a B.A. in English from the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, has a strong passion for writing and transparently explains relevant nuances in personal banking. Zachary has banked with CitiBank his whole life and recently opened a checking account with Capital One for its competitive rates overseas as he lived in Italy for 6 months. Follow his tweets: @ZachEhrlich

Social Banking: Blessing or Curse?

While the topic of Facebook and banking has generated plenty of heat (though not necessarily a lot of light), the debate seems mostly focused on two broad issues: The much-maligned IPO, and the notion that the company might take business away from the banking sector, such as through Facebook Credits or a self-branded credit card.

The IPO, of course, continues to stir debate—just this week, it was reported that UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank (by assets) took a hit of more than $350 million, nearly half its entire second-quarter profit, on the ill-fated deal. (UBS now plans to join several other brokerage institutions readying legal action against NASDAQ). As for Facebook serving becoming a financial institution itself, the mobile payment system for third-party developers got a facelift recently, and there’s now a better subscription billing system.  However, speculation still seems further along than reality.

But there’s another strain emerging that might have even greater ramifications. This is where global financial services conglomerates enable individuals, and perhaps businesses, to do their banking via Facebook.

It’s not as if banks aren’t aware of Facebook—they all have a presence on the social network platform, and quite a few have built branded communities on it. However, that’s still more marketing than finance. What’s happening now goes quite a bit further.

Much of the early action seems to be coming from overseas. First National Bank of South Africa, ASB Bank of New Zealand and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are all launching apparently major initiatives to capitalize on ‘social banking.’ Essentially, the plan is to enable peer-to-peer (P2P) payments over the network between ‘friends.’ Of course, it almost certainly won’t stop there: It’s easy to envision a future in which virtually all consumer transactions, including bill payments, are done over Facebook, since just about everyone and everything is a member anyway.

For the record, skeptics are already out in force, warning consumers that blurring the line between a bank and a social network could bring serious problems. But it may be too late to put the genie back in the bottle. While somewhat smaller financial institutions can be perceived as risk-takers, Citigroup is something else entirely. That financial powerhouse is now asking customers whether they would do their banking via Facebook. It’s also been noted that JP Morgan Chase actually has more ‘likes’ on Facebook than Citi, and is surely looking for ways to monetize that advantage. Besides, as more financial transaction are conducted via mobile applications, the prospect of drastically altering banking practices doesn’t seem nearly so outlandish.

Looking ahead, it’s important to understand that any wholesale change in banking will not take place in a vacuum—Facebook will change, along with user habits, security measures, regulations, etc., before that happens. While it already counts a sixth of the world’s population as members, Facebook is still simplistic in terms of its interface and primitive in its technology underpinnings. Look at the typical user interface—there’s virtually no distinction permissible between different categories of ‘friends,’ or non-transparent and secure ways to do much business. That’s almost surely going to change.

Most consumers now do almost all their communicating via Facebook, just as social networking and social media are no longer separate entities but woven into every aspect of our lives. At some point, everything will become, in some sense, ‘social.’ The idea that banking can somehow stay immune is naïve. Instead of resisting it, let’s just do our part to make it easy, secure and profitable.

Social Media Statistics: By-the-Numbers, July 2012

It’s been a few months since we published a social media stats post, and there has been a lot of social activity this summer! Below are some interesting statistics on social media usage. Feel free to share your favorite social media statistics in the comments section or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • 250,000,000 The number of accounts that have upgraded to or signed up for a Google+ account (Source: Google)
  • 17: the percentage of cell phone owners who do most of their online browsing on their phone, rather than a computer or other device (Source: Pew Internet)
  • 3.6 billion dollars in gross revenue is projected by the end of 2012 for video sharing platform YouTube (Source: Citi)
  • 52: the percentage of all cell phone owners who use their phones while watching television (Source: Pew Internet)
  • 18: the percentage of teens who would stop communicating altogether if their favorite technological channel of communication disappeared (Source: AWeber)
  • 7.56: the average percentage of traffic to Facebook Pages from external referrals (Source: PageLever)
  • 41.7: the percentage of the top 10,000 websites that have some form of Twitter link on their homepage (Source: Pingdom)
  • 36.6 billion online content videos were viewed by US Internet users in May 2012 (Source: comScore)
  • 152,000,000: the number unique US visitors to Facebook.com in May 2012, placing the social network in second place behind Google (Source: Nielsen)

Curious if LinkedIn Groups are useful? Here are some tips on how marketers can benefit from participating in LinkedIn Groups.

How Banks Can Better Connect With Online Customers

In the world of social media, there are some industries that are simply behind the curve. Banking is certainly one. The regulatory issues, lack of clarity in FINRA policies and security concerns on both the technology and communications front have left bank marketers in the grey, if not the dark, about moving forward with social media marketing efforts.

But as consumer behavior continues to shift to include more time and attention on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, banks have been forced to evolve. Fortunately, so have the regulations. FINRA’s updates of early 2010 brought some clarity to what banks could and could not say and do on the social web. As a result, more banks are diving into social. But are they doing so well?

Large brands like Citi, with its hiring of social media customer service pioneer Frank Eliason away from Comcast, and Wells Fargo, with an innovative group blog strategy, have won some early fans from customers in the online space. AMEX’s Open Forum is a solidified business resource for many, offering the brand valuable exposure and trust from online audiences. Even small banks like 1st Mariner in Baltimore have caught the eye of analysts and storytellers from the social media world.

So what can your bank do to better connect with online consumers? Having spent the last few months researching online conversations around banks and bank products, I discovered five core tactics every bank can execute to improve its online credibility with customers.

1. Nail Down Your Policies
No one in your organization will know what to do with online conversations until you tell them what they can do. Whether you empower the entire organization to engage online or just one person from your marketing team, developing a solid social media policy that addresses who, how and why you’ll engage customers online is the first and fundamental step in connecting with customers online.

2. Find The Channel That Matters Most
One of the worst mistakes your bank can make is dividing your attentions among too many channels. You’ll dry up your energy, time and resources tending to a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn page, a Google+ page and more. Do some research to find where the core customers you’re trying to serve are and focus your energies in those one or two places. Having trouble finding where those customers are? Just ask them. They’ll tell you.

3. Sell Your Expertise, Not Your Catalog
Content is what drives social media success, so you’ll need to come up with information to share on these social channels and sites. Your instinct, as a bank marketer, is going to be to tell your audience all about your low rates and your latest promotion. Brace yourself, but your customers don’t want to hear that. They want helpful tips on managing or saving their money. They want to know what the latest legislations means to their bottom line. They want to know why they should care about the European economic crisis. You and people within your bank are really smart about lots of things besides your latest deal. Focus there.

4. Focus On Nimble Technology
The online consumer is pre-disposed to apps, gadgets and tech. So you’re going to need to make sure your online banking, mobile website and even mobile apps are spit-shined or you’ll need to ready yourself for some explaining. While customers are certainly concerned about their privacy and security around their financial information, innovations like mobile apps that help manage your credit cards and online softwares that make personal finance less like spreadsheet hell and more simple are forcing your hand. You’ll need to be up to speed with quick, easy and mobile technology to satisfy that online customer.

5. Be Clear About Fees
If the September 2011 fee increase announcement by Bank of America taught us anything, it’s that $5 is a big deal to most Americans. Consumer perception is that banks are wealthy because they gouge customers for an additional nickel, dime or dollar anywhere they can. Our online analysis of conversations around fees showed over 60% to be negative, far more than other topic areas reflected. Customers don’t like you taking their money, ever. So be sure to adequately communicate what your fees are and why they’re used so your customers are informed and less likely to complain about them. And if you want to make a big splash, get rid of a few (like ATM fees). It shows up in the online buzz!

Social media practitioners will tell you the best way to connect with consumers online is to just be present, be honest and be consistent. But you also have to make those connections mean something to your bottom line. Whether you approach social media marketing as an effort in customer retention or customer acquisition, that philosophical position will lay a nice foundation. Following the steps above will fine tune your efforts and help you begin to turn conversations into conversions.

Jason Falls is the CEO of Social Media Explorer and author of The Conversation Report: What Consumers Are Saying About Banking, a new market research report from his company. You can find Jason on Twitter @JasonFalls, Facebook or connect with him on his blog, Social Media Explorer.

What Real Customers Are Saying About Banks

If you asked the average American if they felt positively or negatively about their bank, how do you think they would answer? Now consider the same question while keeping in mind the country is currently clawing its way out of a recession, the mortgage crisis is still affecting millions of Americans and their bottom lines and the Occupy Wall Street movement hasn’t exactly disappeared?

Would it shock you to know that most Americans would answer that they feel positively about their bank? That’s what my company’s recent research into online conversations about banks revealed. In fact, looking at conversations that feature the top 25 banks according to assets as ranked by the FDIC, only two have less than 60% positive marks. Even major banks, like Citi and PNC, were above 70% positive in online conversations.

Granted, Bank of America, which in many ways instigated the Occupy Wall Street movement with its September 2011 rate hike (quickly rescinded but not before the public conversation could go awry) dominated online conversations in 2011 among the banks and it was one of the two under that 60% positive threshold. But even with BOA’s miserable year in the public eye, its positive to negative ratio was 1:1. Half of the people talking about Bank of America last year were speaking of the company in positive light.

Anecdotal assumptions like, “no one likes their bank,” or “no one likes Bank of America,” can be more easily overturned today thanks to online monitoring and listening platforms. That’s why we spent the last few months researching what consumers were saying about banks and bank products. Among some of the other surprises we found include:

Customers Are Fickle - Several banks we reviewed got high marks for customer service. But, they also got low marks for it. This tells bank marketers that no matter how good you are, someone will always think you’re bad. Having processes and policies to deal with negative feedback is an imperative.

You Don’t Have To Be Big To Make An Impact – After finding the major products and themes consumers of the top 25 banks discussed, we removed any brand bias and searched the web for conversations about the topics. While analyzing conversations about Automated Teller Machines, First Fidelity Bank (Oklahoma) appeared multiple times. Its ATM fee policy thrilled fans enough to elicit online responses. And ones that were found by a national research focus. The insight for marketers here is that thrilling your customers creates buzz and not many of your competitors are doing that.

Advertising Works – The single biggest online conversation impact we found among the larger banks was the amount of positive conversation that focused on the advertising campaigns for Capital One and HSBC. Capital One’s “What’s In Your Wallet” vikings and Jimmy Fallon ads accounted for over 60% of the positive online conversation around the brand. But it’s not just funny TV spots that emerged as effective in driving online buzz. HSBC’s advertising campaign focuses on posters and billboards primarily placed around airports. The “Different Points of View” campaign accounted for 23% of its positive online buzz. Apparently, good ads are worth the investment.

Certainly, looking at online conversations comes with its own limitations and biases. We were not able to ask direct questions of consumers as with traditional market research made of focus groups and surveys. But with our approach comes certain bias elimination, too. Finding online conversations means the consumer isn’t biased to answer one way or another because they know they’re being monitored or interviewed. We mined raw conversations of people speaking freely on their respective social networking site, forum or blog.

This in-the-wild conversational analysis isn’t necessarily better than other forms of consumer insight. But it sure is different and as revealing. It shows us that our assumptions are often wrong, consumers will always surprise you and there are plenty of opportunities to be had for brands in the online space.

Jason Falls is the CEO of Social Media Explorer and author of The Conversation Report: What Consumers Are Saying About Banking, a new market research report from his company. You can find Jason on Twitter @JasonFalls, Facebook or connect with him on his blog, Social Media Explorer.

Key Banking Topics in Social Media

*Guest post by Karen Licker, Social Banker & Content Contributor (Independent) at J.D. Power and Associates

The challenges confronting banks that seek to bolster their bottom-line profitability, retain customers, and stay competitive in the marketplace are formidable. Research conducted by J.D. Power‘s Consumer Insight and Strategies Group to track social media activity regarding banking issues between April 2011 and March 2012 finds that:

  • Online sentiment was distinctly negative not only regarding fees, but also for bank technology
  • Complaints associated with website or online issues were a major source of discontent in technology-related messages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With customer feedback on critical topics discussed online going from technology to fees and service, banks should see the handwriting on the wall and provide an appropriate outlet for these customers, along with an acknowledgement and guidance for direction for immediate response.

Retail Banks aren’t the only ones that have an opportunity to engage with the vocal online customer. Credit card holders appear to be even more outspoken online, but card issuers appear to have learned this a bit faster than their Retail Banking peers.

  • 43% more credit card customers indicated that their financial institution responded to their online post than for Retail Bank customers (J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Credit Card Satisfaction Study). This may not be surprising, however, given the more virtual nature of interaction associated with credit card servicing.
  • Mobile apps for payments, online sites for daily transactions and much heavier reliance on phone-based rather than in-person interaction all combine to make the credit card environment more conducive to engaging the customer online.

Financial services, however, need to step up to the plate more and address the disgruntled customer. While these percentages are a step in the right direction, there is much more to be done to placate this online audience and turn the negative intensity and passion around.

National Day of Unplugging

Tonight marks the start of a day called the National Day of Unplugging. This movement encourages people to disconnect from technology and connect with the offline world. For many tech savvy users the ideas of shutting off for 24 hours seems like eternity. No phone, Twitter, Facebook or apps.

To showcase how difficult it will be for Americans to turn off, we’ve included an infographic called Instant America which has statistics that showcase how quickly Americans expect to receive information in this digital era. After reading these stats, it’s no wonder that movements such as the National Day of Unplugging are taking place.

The infographic below highlights that, “Google found that slowing search results by just 4/10ths of a second would reduce the number of searches by 8,000,000 a day.”

Instant America
Created by: OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

After taking time to digest these stats, are you going to unplug tonight?

Finding Social Media ROI is like Hunting a Unicorn (Part IV)

Post four wraps up this wild ride with some advice on how to put your social media efforts into proper perspective. This is the final blog post on why social media ROI is as challenging as corralling a mythical unicorn. Read Part I, Part II, & Part III here.

In Conclusion: Building, implementing, maintaining a social media strategy is a time-intensive endeavor, especially when the payoff isn’t there yet for most every Financial Institution. The first two blog posts I shared have this correct.  I know of a handful of banks with consistently worthy social media efforts. They are the true unicorns…and they are rare.

Not everyone can or should lead social media ventures…as indicated by the third item.  Technical proficiency in generating a page and “likes” isn’t what you or your institution should be shooting for.

Finally, our industry has gone so far past ROI when it comes to social media that we’ve forgotten about the limited resources we have to generate revenue for our institutions!  I rarely hear people talk about time management.  Perhaps this is because our industry has downsized so much that most people are so busy chasing unicorns that it seems as if everyone is working hard!  Have we become afraid to say, “that’s not the best use of our time” for fear of being viewed as incapable of working as hard as Sue or Bob down the hall?  Saying no to non-revenue generating activities is a valued skill.

It’s refreshing to see articles that question the validity of Social Media as a revenue generating strategy.  And, it was enough to shake me out of my non-blogging ways to reengage my four readers!

Feel free to comment. I’m sure some will say that Social Media isn’t meant to generate revenue but to generate engagement. Well, what is the true, main job of a great marketer? To generate results that impact the bottom line? Or to generate minimal engagement amongst a limited segment of your customer base? To generate “likes”?  And, what if you only have time for one of these? Which do you think would save your job if it were ever on the chopping block?

Footnote 1: OK, so maybe I’ve used my own social media endeavors to uncover a unicorn or two…I have booked some speaking gigs because of what someone saw on my LinkedIn profile or because of a recommendation.  More likely, these weren’t unicorns but like a Guide Horse (aka. Miniature Helper Pony for the Blind). My social media strategies center on looking for a way to increase my visibility but in ways that wouldn’t require more resources than I had to devote…or more succinctly put, strategies that I could ignore when higher ROI activities presented themselves. This blog is great, but can be abandoned for 160+ days when sales become so busy that you can’t devote resources to maintain regular posts. Banks and CUs don’t have the luxury of abandoning their social media efforts for months at a time.

Footnote 2: I’ve been trying to figure out a way to toss this social media story into the “Internets” since I heard it in the fall of 2011 at a banking conference.  I didn’t figure out a seamless way to work it into the above post so here it is on its own in the footnotes area.

I saw a panel of bank social media experts talk about their experience with social media.  At the end of the panel discussion, an attendee asked the panel, “How do you address the question of ROI?”

The first participant to speak said, “How do you measure the ROI of a hug? Because that’s what we’re doing out there on twitter.”

Holy crap? Really? Banking may need a softer image but it’s not going to be about hugs and unicorns.

About Mark Zmarzly: Mark Zmarzly is VP of Financial Services at ACTON Marketing, and an accomplished marketing, business development, banking, and creative professional with demonstrated success solving customer acquisition, marketing, and profitability problems. He has worked with financial institutions from 1 branch up to 1,700+ branches in the areas of marketing, copywriting, account management, consulting, teaching, social media, and business development. You can find his insights on issues facing the financial industry at www.ihelpbanks.com and on Twitter @BankMarketing. You can also connect with him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markzmarzly

Finding Social Media ROI is like Hunting a Unicorn (Part III)

Part three of four on why social media ROI is as challenging as corralling a mythical unicorn. Read Part I and Part II here.

Item 3: Sorry that you can’t see the board post on this third citation. Perhaps you’re on the board and have seen it. If not, my summary is that one person asked for “ideas to help drive people to our Facebook page.” Many people replied with ideas that worked for them to get to 1,000 likes in X number of days. The conversation on the board reminded me of this great email exchange I had with an industry contact of mine in regard to his questions about Facebook strategies and my follow up questions about what his goals are. He said:

“I’m going to have to get my Senior Management Team to agree on the ‘Goal’.  I find that a lot of my friends up this way have jumped into the Social Media craze, but when I ask them what their goal is, they have no idea.  My management team has a history of introducing new products and services, and when I ask them what the goal is, they look at me like I have ten heads.  I always ask them, ‘how will you determine if this is a success or not?’ and I just get stares.”

Unfortunately, the focus of the board post became getting “likes,” which we will assume has become the unofficial currency of most bank Social Media efforts.  I did like one poster’s closing comment to “Have fun and look for a ROI!”  Unfortunately, liking unicorns and finding unicorns are not the same thing.

ROSMI Summary: CMO, “I like unicorns.”  Another CMO, “Me, too.  Hey, look, a Leprechaun! Sorry, I’m easily distracted.  Hey, look, a shiny object.”

Item 4: If you’re not reading Dave Martin on American Banker or through his www.ncbs.com site, then you’re missing out! (Subscribe to “Dave’s Instore Newsletter” on the right side of the page…even if your financial institution doesn’t have any “in-store” branches.) I’ve never met Dave but have been reading his newsletter for years now and he’s a great blend of sales and marketing…something all marketers should strive for.

You must click and read this article…come on, you’ve come this far.  Here it is again: Dave Martin on American Banker’s Bank Think titled “Your Staff’s Time is as Valuable as the Customer’s

Here is the most important statement in that article in case you missed it or didn’t click the link despite my pleadings:

“When managers express concern about employees feeling micro-managed about their time, I smile and say, “Well, that’s easy. Don’t micro-manage.” I simply suggest that we stress to folks that their talents and desire to succeed may be unlimited. But their time is not.

Employees don’t need (and, in fact, resent) being told what to do with each minute of their day. But regularly reminding them, in word and action, that their time is a valuable asset improves the chances that they (and you) will get the most out of it.”

I was speaking to a group of college English majors last week – Yes, I’m a former English major who ended up with a decent career story so I get invited back to speak occasionally – and one of the questions was whether hard work or talent was more important to get ahead.  While I could have taken that question in any manner of different directions – creativity is king, saying no to idiots is kind of valuable, brownnosing will save us all – I answered it in the most honest fashion by stating that both are important. But, that talent and hard work must meet at a supply and demand intersection of sorts.  “Hard work” as defined by looking busy all the time and answering emails at night is no substitution for leveraging your talents to achieve high level results.  Your talents should be abundant to you but also limited to the company – if there is only one of your talents, that’s not just job security but job creation!  Then the ultimate goal is to apply your talent with focus so you’re not defined as a hard worker but as a producer of results.

Simply stated:

[Your ability to utilize your limited amount of time] X [the high-payoff talents you possess] = How you will be judged by your organization

Just because you have “social media technical skills” doesn’t mean they are high-payoff activities for your organization.  And, the ability to utilize your limited amount of time means you need to have awareness of how to create results that matter…to your employer!  Where does generating “likes” fall into this equation?  It doesn’t.

ROSMI Summary: Hunting mythical unicorns isn’t something most people are well suited for and most likely won’t become a career defining endeavor.  It’s best left to the Care Bears…or whoever hunts them…(I’m not a big Sci Fi fan so may have that one wrong).

Post four of this series wraps up this wild ride with some advice on how to put your social media efforts into proper perspective.

About Mark Zmarzly: Mark Zmarzly is VP of Financial Services at ACTON Marketing, and an accomplished marketing, business development, banking, and creative professional with demonstrated success solving customer acquisition, marketing, and profitability problems. He has worked with financial institutions from 1 branch up to 1,700+ branches in the areas of marketing, copywriting, account management, consulting, teaching, social media, and business development. You can find his insights on issues facing the financial industry at www.ihelpbanks.com and on Twitter @BankMarketing. You can also connect with him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markzmarzly.