My previous post suggesting that Twitter is stunt for banks, has stirred up a few people. I've had quite a few private emails on the subject, some of which agree with me, and some of which don't. I've also had some pretty interesting comments here on the blog itself.
Many are horrified that an innovation person can possibly not "get" twitter and social media in general. Take this, for example, from Chris Skinner:
A man returns from holiday and sets out to pour cold water on the latest networking craze ... same man is a blogger, social media aware maverick ... he's on linkedin and stuff ... yet doesn't get Twitter.
I think I do get Twitter, at least on a conceptual level. I don't use it personally every day, though I do have a Twitter account. And when I find someone interesting who has a Twitter account, I'll at least look at their tweets.
The same can be said for virtual worlds, the previous banking fad that has faded now from memory. I played with quite a few of them, and I suppose I must have worked out early that – excepting the first players in the space who were doing real experimentation – everyone else was engaging in another stunt.
The compelling pull of "earned media" is very tempting indeed. If you are relatively early with your stunt compared to your peers, people are going to write about your bank.
Of course, if you want to get the balanced view on all this, I definitely suggest you read the whole of Chris' writings on why banks should do social media and his rebuttal of my argument that it is uneconomic.
I've said it before: if there was such a titanic business case for social media for banks, I can assure you we'd all be doing it. Most of us are not. Ergo, the business case must be faulty. It is beyond reasonable to think that every single non-social-media bank in the world doesn't "get" it.
But let me continue with the comments of Neil Robinson. Now Neil is smart, but he doesn't much like banks. So of course, when I suggest that we might not do things for economic reasons, he responds that we're missing an opportunity, one that we're too stupid and too traditional to capture:
Let's rejoice that some banks have the vision to go out into their market. It's a low cost endeavour with potential high value rewards. Why dismiss that?
Maybe you could start your own social network. "Sitter".
For bankers who aren't going anywhere and nothing to tell anyone, and don't want to listen anyway. The entire high street would sign up to that, right away.
Neil, if anyone could explain to me, in economic terms which made sense for a real numbers business case, what these potential "high value rewards" are, I'd start a Twitter programme right this second. Getting to a real money benefits case, one that I can defend internally, is the real challenge with all these things.
However, I will decline your invitation to start the new "Sitter" social network for bankers, though it is clearly a great place for people who hate bankers to rally and hang out.
My final point on this, though, comes to me courtesy of Nicholas Carr of Rough Type. He reviews the latest Nielsen figures for Twitter uptake, and finds that three of five customers bail on Twitter after a few weeks. He goes on to say that unless that trend stops, Twitter will soon run out of new users to recruit to supports its (admittedly) stunning growth. In fact, according to Nielsen, the churn rate will limit the sites growth to a 10% reach figure. Not really very significant if Twitter is to be a long term channel for banks.
I guess my question, given that, is why anyone thinks that Twitter is going to be important for banks.
However, I have been wrong before. Noone is perfect.