No, seriously, really not that much.
Well, that's not strictly true. I do have some beliefs and knowledge about the use of social media from a personal, professional and every day life point of view. But, you know what, I bet they are not based on experience that is longer or more nuanced than
any of you. I put up a Linkedin profile around 2006, had a bunch of my 20-something friends cajole me into joining Facebook in 2007. As for Twitter: 2009 - that's just a year ago. Ring any bells? If it doesn't, I bet my dates are only a few months, either
side, off from you.
(In an age where all you have to do is throw up a 140 character word of wisdom and a bevy of self-appointed social media 'gurus' will come running to tell you 'where you've gone wrong' - Isn't the above kind of refreshing?)
However, I am moderating a panel at this year's Sibos looking at how the financial services industry deals with social media
(simi-cast on Finextra!)
where I will need to a firm grasp of this slippery animal we're all tagging 'social media' at the moment.
So I thought it would be a good idea to lay my cards on the table and tell you all, Finextra Community, what I believe about social media - and more importantly what I've observed about social media in financial services.
Social behaviour isn't new. Networking isn't new. Gathering together with your peers at the local watering hole isn't new. What's new, is that's now online, forever.
It's not the social that's new - it's the media. People that argue that banks aren't moving fast enough on social media, tend to focus on the social and dismiss the media. Let's clarify, the
data retention and regulation attracting aspect of the media.
Yes, retail banks can do better in regards to customer service. But bashing retail banks' customer service is, frankly, an easy dead horse to beat.
It's the rest of the bank, we'll be talking about at Sibos. Banks are, even banks not-quite-big-enough-to-fail, are more than their retail arms. They are large, expansive organisms. It's all well and good to deride a big bank for blocking social media for
most of it's staff because 'everyone has a phone.' But ask any trader walking around Canary Wharf, or the City of London, or Wall Street what would happen if they pulled out an iPhone on the trading floor. (Clue: it involves security guards and your personal
items in a little cardboard box).
Ever wonder why banks don't bat an eyelid about managing rows of Bloomberg Terminals, with fully functioning chat lines between bond dealers, but freak out when you mention Twitter? Because Bloomberg data is stored, retained, managed and accessible if the
Feds come calling. Where's Twitter's datacentre?
Remember, it's all about the social. Ok, you're going to think I am contradicting myself, but I'm not. I asked Dan Marovitz how Deutsche Bank policed their policy of letting its staff view, but not post, on social media sites while at work. He answered
by saying "How do you ensure people behave on London to NY flight?"
No one and everyone regulates social media. Most societies are self-regulating. A jerk on a transatlantic flight, will most likely either be ignored, mocked, or challenged - by fellow passengers. Why think social media will act different from society?
I've had a few conversations with people regarding various Twitterviews or live webcasts where they wonder 'What do we do if someone starts posting abuse on Twitter?' My response is - if it happens, you just have to deal. You can avoid all bar fights by
never entering a bar. Or you can deal with social media, like you do with life.
I can deal with the fact that as Dilbert puts it: the world is sometimes filled with 'drunk and
stupid' cats and for want of anything better that sits perfectly with me.
The world is global, but we work in tribes. Here in the UK, whenever the national newspapers go on about Twitter, they will eventually mention Stephen Fry (@stephenfry). Stephen Fry is funny, smart, and talented with millions of followers. I'm just
not one of them. (@LizLum 367 followers!) Not because I dislike Stephen Fry, quite the contrary. But I can watch him on TV, or read his books in Waterstones, or listen to him on radio. Twitter, on the other hand, is where I go, mostly, to find out what people
in my tribe are talking about - the financial technology tribe.
As a journalist, if you knew that a whole bunch of people you write about were all gathering in one bar to talk to each other all day - wouldn't you want to go there? With Twitter, my industry is gathering together to talk, to each other, all day and in
all time zones. What a powerful tool. And one that doesn't need a reservation.
When you start dipping your toes into social media, whether it be Facebook or Twitter, don't think about what newspaper columnists want out of it, think about what you and your tribe want out of it. If you don't want to read about people 'Twittering what
they ate for breakfast' don't follow people who do. If you want to interact with people building mobile banking apps or cloud computing platforms (trust me they're out there.) Enter the bar and find your tribe.
Social media is a work in progress. Don't let anyone tell you, you're doing social media wrong. Social media may be, like I said earlier, online and forever, but it is also fleeting. In the golden age of newspapers yesterday's news became tomorrow's
cat litter liner. Today, an hour old Tweet is already off your Tweetdeck column. If you make a mistake, try again.
Most stories about banks and social media involve 'mistakes' - Citi and Fabulis, HSBC and the student protest on Facebook - but mistakes are where people and organisations learn. I would trust the person who admits to their errors and moves on rather than
the smug guru who has all the answers.
The panel at this year's Sibos will be a discussion about the financial industry's experiences with social media - what works and what didn't. It will be social media for the real financial world - a guru and Kool-Aid-free zone.
Just use the hashtag #sibosSM to chat about the panel.