Cause and Effect: If you build it, will they come?

July 23, 2014
/   Spotlight

Many financial institutions assume that digital banking is lucrative because the most valuable customers happen to bank online. While there is certainly a correlation between online bankers and higher profitability, quantitative evidence suggests that...

Fast Facts: Student Loans

January 22, 2013
/   Insights

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast...

Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services

April 11, 2011
/   Insights

Today, Intuit released the latest edition of the Intuit 2020 report, Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services, which identifies and examines four key trend areas that will  transform the financial services industry...

Small Business: Perception vs. Reality

November 21, 2012
/   Insights

In the most recent election cycle, like most others before it, the one sector of the economy that got the most attention was small business.  This is the future, we were told by every...

The Top 10 Trends in the Digital Banking Industry

December 18, 2013
/   Spotlight

2014 is rapidly approaching and as the year wraps, the Digital Insight team has pulled together the top 10 trends in the digital banking industry based on data and trends from studying financial institutions....

Mobile Banking Engagement: Data from Digital Insight

June 24, 2013
/   Spotlight

Intuit Financial Services has been conducting a comprehensive and ongoing study of financial institution customers. From these studies, the company has been able to provide a deeper view of banking customer behavior across several...

Industry Perception, Optical Delusion

January 14, 2013
/   Insights

In Washington, they talk a lot about ‘optics.’ This has nothing to do with regulatory scrutiny, or government mandates on eyeglasses. It has to do with perception—how something looks, the way a particular story...

Social Banking: Blessing or Curse?

August 1, 2012
/   Insights

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...

In many ways, Peach State FCU symbolizes the essence of the credit union industry: Created in 1961 with a specific goal of serving local educators in a few Georgia counties, it now has more than 41,000 members, while employees of all sponsor Boards of Education and select groups and associations are also eligible to join.

Like all good businesses, Peach State likes to stay current, and that’s why, earlier this fall, it launched social media initiatives through promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook. It was working—the institution says it had soon doubled the number of followers. In November, however, Twitter instituted new rules that “restrict the promotion of financial services and related content.”

For the record, this is not an absolute ban. Financial services providers can indeed use promoted posts, but there’s an approval process that must be followed, and some products, such as short-term mortgages, still can’t be publicized.

If Peach State represents one end of the financial services spectrum—a small, focused institution serving a very specific purpose—then JP Morgan Chase surely represents the other. So what can the two have in common?

On December 6, the Wall Street behemoth sent out an innocuous Tweet from its corporate account promoting an upcoming Twitter Q&A about leadership and careers and featuring the hashtag #AskJPM. It was totally innocuous and uncontroversial. . .except for the fact that just a few minutes earlier, Twitter had gone public with underwriting help from Chase. That first Tweet didn’t get much attention, but a second one a week later certainly did. The #AskJPM hashtag soon became a minefield of nasty messages, most flailing the company for its supposed lack of ethics.

Social Media Tablet

While Chase has had its share of PR nightmares in the recent past, from bribery scandals to the Bernie Madoff fiasco, it surely wasn’t expecting this one. The company hastily scrambled to fix the damage, dropping the Q&A as a bad idea and promising to “back to the drawing board.”

Of course, it’s way too late for that. ‘Social business’ isn’t just coming, it’s been here for a while. The lines between personal and corporate communications, previously blurred by a plethora of mobile apps, have been essentially obliterated by the ubiquity of social media. And the problem isn’t that the rules have changed, it’s that they keep changing on a regular basis.

Just this month, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released its long-awaited guidelines for this process. Officially intended for financial marketers, “Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance” actually deserves a broader audience in that it provides a clear overview of this rapidly evolving field, covering both the promise and the potential pitfalls. It doesn’t outline new laws per se, but plays an invaluable role in examining common practices and helping to negotiate current regulations.

Case in point: Twitter itself, which experienced a major snafu in this same timeframe. In mid-December, the company sparked howls of protest when it instituted a rule that enabled blocked Twitter users to anonymously view or Tweet the very users who blocked them. It was done with the best of intentions—Twitter wanted to protect those who sought to filter out abusive messages but feared retaliation—but the change had the opposite effect, and the company almost immediately had to reverse course.It’s important to remember that even a document like this, comprehensive as it is, offers little more than a snapshot in time. Regulations in the traditional sense, like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, take years to create and implement. Rules around Twitter and LinkedIn, meanwhile, can turn on a dime, evolving as fast as the technologies that enable them.

The simple truth is that new technologies will keep emerging, and the rules will keep changing. In the long run, this is a good thing—each advance fosters better communication and greater competition. But in the meantime, it’s imperative that we monitor new tools as they emerge, stay abreast of changes in user behavior and expectations, and adapt our own practices to stay both current and compliant. It’s a tall order to be sure, but vital nonetheless.

*Image courtesy of  samuiblue - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Zachary Ehrlich

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

Brad Strothkamp

http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/brad_strothkamp