Over the last couple of months, I have presented to a lot of senior banking executives on the subject of social media. The parallels between these presentations have been fascinating.
At all these presentations, I tend to be the last presenter of the day. I am usually all that’s between 10 tired delegates and their commute home. Nevertheless the feedback I usually get afterwards is how exciting the discussion has been and how valuable
it was to have an opportunity to discuss what social media can do for a bank.
Now, I would like to put this down to my own inimitable presenting style and effective influencing skills (and the fact my presentation often follows a long discussion on Basle 3 capital adequacy requirements or the impact of new regulatory frameworks -
after which anything would be exciting). However, I suspect is it more to do with the way in which most bankers perceive ‘social media’. Social media is
‘fun’ and ‘cool’ and ‘interesting’. It’s is a nice way to round out a day of presentations. A tick in the box for strategic thinking. But, well… it’s just not that important right now.
I think that is really wrong. I want social media to be recognised for what it is (and increasingly will be):
‘integral’ and ‘important’ and ‘serious’.So I’m now here to make social media boring. I want people to groan at the thought of a social media presentation. Ok - maybe that takes it too far… But social media
has to be placed in the mainstream of banking.
I want for bankers to see social media as an integral part of everything they do. Cutting the cost of customer administration? Enhancing sales? Reducing cycle times for product development? Building deep customer relationships? Social media
is a fundamental part of the solution to these questions - and to many other serious challenges facing the banking industry today. Banks need to stop thinking of social media as existing within a bubble and integrate it to their business models. It needs to
be treated in the same way risk management, customer satisfaction, staff training, etc., etc.
Social media needs to be a factor in every decision because it has the capacity to drive tangible and significant benefits across the banking business model. So banks not only need to understand how social media fits across many aspects of their businesses
- but also the importance of social media. Social media is a proven way to drive significant benefits by increasing income, cutting costs, improving retention and satisfaction and enabling innovation (internally and externally). The scale
of the kinds of benefits that can be achieved is growing as organisations (from across many industries) develop and extend their social media schemes.
Once social media stops being exciting or gimmicky, banks will start to leverage the full opportunities that it presents. Social media has to be
serious so that it becomes credible within a financial services organisation. Senior people need to buy in and spread that engagement through their teams. Social media cannot simply be the preserve of young digital managers or enthusiatic external
recruits from beyond banking.
So for these reasons, I hope that we can all do our best to make social media as boring as possible - because once this happens, the banking industry will truly be able to deliver on the opportunities social media offers.