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There's one thing worse than being talked about.

Or is there?

Well documented reports have appeared in the Press around the world, regarding the negative impact experienced by banks and other commercial companies, when their reputation is damaged through Social Media (Twitter, Facebook and the like) attention.

Previously, any complaint or experience of perceived poor service received by a customer, would be handled on a singular basis. If communication was passed on by that individual regarding the shortcomings of a company, then it was limited to a relatively small number of the customer’s family, friends and acquaintances.

There was no widespread coverage, no possibility of widespread negativity and damage to brand or reputation.

With the advent of Social Media, all that has changed. Significant and widespread damage to brand, reputation and share price can occur very quickly indeed.

Examples, widely published and in the public domain include RBS and Lloyds Banking Group in the UK, Banamex in Mexico and others including Deutsche Bank in Germany.

Here is a close to real example, with all names changed in order to not pile more pressure on those involved:

12:00 There is a system outage, a regional ATM network cluster goes down, taking several hundred ATMs out of service. The Technical department within the bank will be being alerted to the issue and will begin to respond. The Marketing Department though, any Social media response team, the CEO, CFO and Executive Management, remain still blissfully unaware.

12.10 The first mentions of the problem appear on Twitter. Negative sentiment is being widely expressed towards the situation, the service and the bank.

12.30 The situation has ‘trended on Twitter’ and is now the number one local Twitter subject. There is widespread condemnation of the bank and their service levels.

12:40 The bank receives the first of many calls from the Press to enquire what is happening. Unfortunately the PR  team are not well primed, are not well prepared and do not have a satisfactory, ready response.

13:00 Due to other recent failings of bank systems, the situation is deemed ‘newsworthy’ and becomes the lead item on the One o’clock national news bulletin.

13:10 The Chief Executive is call in and by….

13.18 The share price has been negatively affected.

There is little doubt that if the bank had monitored Social Media and had communicated between their technical, operational and marketing functions, this situation it could have been managed. Certainly the CEO and the share price, need not have been impacted.

Fiction? No this was based on real events in 2013. The impact of Social Media is something that financial institutions must both monitor and manage. The damage and resultant impact of failing to do this can be dramatic and lasting.

I wonder how many CEO's prioritise what is trending on twitter? I wonder how many know the impact of not knowing!



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