Social media star killed the banking experiment

I wanted to put this post up quickly to record the progress / collapse of this finance industry social media project from NAB and to continue my commentary on this important SMM watershed. Charis Palmer at The Better Banking Blog has tried to explain the challenges of the NAB UBank MyFutureBank experiment from a bankers’ perspective. The commentary and discussion from social media experts Gavin Heaton and Stephen Collins that follows the post are interesting reading. Here is the first paragraph, click for the rest of the post.

Why bankers are wary of social media – By Charis Palmer, The Better Banking Blog

Here’s a scenario for you. You’re a consultant, blogger and social media “guru” (there seems to be more and more of them popping up these days). Your business involves advising banks and the otherwise less informed on how to cut it in the big bad world of the Interweb. You have plenty of good arguments to convince your corporate clients why they should be embracing all things Web 2.0, so you’re a little bit irked that they don’t immediately ‘get it’. Still, they pay well, so you persist. After all, for as long as they don’t get it, you have a business.

Click here to read Why bankers are wary of social media

(Update: Here are two posts on this topic by Crikey Blogger Trevor Cook. One with his opinion about the fallout and another with several other post-mortems.)

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Bigpond, Spam, Twitter and why Australia needs to sort this out

After setting up a support facility through Twitter, Bigpond has identified its concern that their correspondence with people through the social networking tool may constitute the “sending of unsolicited ‘commercial electronic messages’”, commonly referred to as spam, under the 2003 Spam Act.

@BigpondTeam Twitter page

@BigpondTeam Twitter page

There has also been significant discussion (much of it criticism) about the way @BigpondTeam has used the Twitter tool to communicate with their followers. Social Media experts such Stephen Collins have identified the boilerplate, bot-style responses being used and spoken about the internal restrictions being placed on the Telstra team. Much has been discussed on the Telstra-managed blog NowWeAreTalking, with plenty of comments adding to the explanation. Another comprehensive post can be found at Blogwell.

The Bigpond issue has also been analysed on Julian Cole’s blog from a legal perspective with some important points from Gavin Heaton, Granleese and Zac Martin from Pigs Don’t Fly. Comments range from the legality of Bigpond’s position to the poor execution of their Twitter project.

Last year, as they continued to recover from the exploding notebook catastrophe, Dell began experimenting with Social Media. They used Twitter and other social media tools to identify problems early and communicate with customers. These conversations ultimately grew into a new channel to communicate directly with journalists and customers on an ongoing basis.

Strive’s Notes has a post about this:

Andy Lark who runs Dell’s corporate marketing … says:

“The social media stuff is probably the most important we do today, from a marketing stand point. The other elements of marketing mix has sort of become more and more transactional and more and more tactical in nature. Social media stuff is much more strategic… Use social media to power the fundamental of the business. That’s what we’re focused on”.


Dell’s Kerry Bridge gave an interesting presention on the cool stuff they are doing.  She said that there are 4,000 unique conversations relating to the Dell brand taking place online each and every day. Kerry and her ‘SWAT team’ identify where they are taking place, prioritise them and engage when they feel their participation would make a positive difference.

Does this sound like what @BigpondTeam was attempting to do?

It’s all about the finesse of the execution that impresses, and the engagement you achieve. That’s what social media is all about – being social. Being engaging. Being human.

As far as spamming, it will be interesting to hear what the legal experts come back with, but solving a genuine problem when a well-trained “team identifies where … their participation would make a positive difference” can’t be spam, can it?

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