Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Banning Social Media in the Workplace

I recently came across an interesting and disturbing statistic the other day. According to a Robert Half Technology CIO survey released earlier this year, over 55% of the 1,400 CIO's surveyed ban the use of social networking sites in the workplace. I really found that quite disturbing.

If the concern is productivity, individual employees in their 20's are as likely to be engaged via their smart phone as they are through their work pc. So they will find a way to engage their friends through these social outlets even when they are banned. It seems a strong stance to take in this day and age.

For corporate marketing, this may be the biggest constraint that individual marketers will face in using these tools. How can you build any type of meaningful social media engagement if your company bans it in the workplace? The better answer, in my opinion, is to build a social media policy that addresses these issues and draws the line between personal and corporate involvement. I addressed this in an earlier post this year. There is also an online database of other social media policies you may want to explore as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media- Part 2

And the fun continues. It's been over a month since we experienced the influx of online account applications and we are still reeling from the effects. With all the attention we received from these rather angry individuals (think Tea Party angry), we've had to respond to numerous formal complaints. As with any event where other agencies are involved, it takes as much time and energy to respond as it did to create the issue. And there is always more information needed, no matter how trivial and difficult. I can't wait for this to end so we can start focusing on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2011. (insert sarcastic comment here!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media

With apologies to Clint Eastwood, I recently experienced all three. Actually, it began the same day I posted my last blog entry. Our bank had an offer that provided a bonus if you opened a checking account and met certain criteria. The promotion began in July and most of the accounts were opened locally, through our branch system. Everything changed when, on October 7th, a blogger on the site found the offer and posted on his site. Within minutes, we began receiving phone calls, online chats, and applications from all over the country asking about the offer. In a little over two weeks, we processed as many applications as we had for the first six months of the year. It was insane.

The Ugly- As Murphy's Law states, anything that could go wrong, did. We declined many of these accounts because they didn't meet our approval criteria. Unfortunately, we had issues refunding their money in a timely way. We received some pretty nasty feedback from these folks.

The Bad- Our intent was never to run this as a nationwide campaign. It was designed to help us grow our local customer base and build relationships. It is unlikely that many of the accounts we opened from outside our footprint are going to be long term customers.

The Good- As these prospects visited our site, they found our promotional CD offering a very competitive rate. We generated a good number of these accounts that will help our core deposit base. Let's face it, CD's are far less risky than a checking account.

We learned a very powerful (and sometimes painful) lesson about the impact of these social media groups. This will certainly change the way we position our promotions on the web. Hopefully,we can figure out how to more effectively manage these groups in the future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bank's among Top 3 of Most Social Industries

NetProspex, a sales and marketing leads generation company, recently released their Fall, 2010 Social Business Report. It uses the NetProspex Social Index (NPSI) to score and rank social networking activity by mining their large database of contacts. It's a fascinating report.
In the report, they rank the top 50 most social industries and, to my surprise, Banking ranked 3rd, behind Search Engines-Portals and Advertising & Marketing. Why was I surprised? Because, in the numerous banking conferences I attend, there seems to be few of them who are actively using social media, either personally or as a company. Recently, for example, I was a presenter at the Fiserv PIP Conference on Social Media in Banking. This was a followup to the morning session when Fiserv CMO Don MacDonald spent an hour talking about this very subject. When I asked how many of the 30 or so people who attended my session used Twitter, for example, only 2 attendees raised their hand. And yet, according to this report, Banking also ranks number 3 in the use of Twitter.
So why the disconnect? Perhaps it's because the people who attend these sessions at conferences are looking for help and the active users are back at the office, tweeting away like madmen. Anyone else have a theory on this? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Boomers and Engagement Banking- two trends converging?

A couple of recent posts last week caught my attention.
The first was a MarketingProfs post. They, along with many others social media sites, highlighted a Pew Research study that found the fastest growing demographics among social media users is adults age 50+. In one year, use of social media by these online users doubled to 46%.
The second was the launch of a new site called Banking on the Future jointly by Sapient Nitro, Geezeo, and Brett King. The premise is that we (bankers) are entering a new era they call Engagement Banking. This will go well beyond the traditional branch relationships by using Technology to engage customers in many different ways.
While separate items, they appear to be the converging of two very similar trends. Boomers are moving to the social media space in droves, embracing this "new" way to engage their friends, family, and merchants. Bankers, or at least the one's looking to engage their customers, are adding services like Personal Financial Management tools and mobile banking. Interestingly, the focus for engaging customers, whether through social media or new financial management tools, has traditionally been aimed at the younger generation. Given the recent trends, that may not be true for long.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cogster helping local businesses

I'm definitely a "locals" kind of guy. I live in the city and love to support local businesses, whether it's a restaurant, a hardware store or car repair shop. That's why the whole concept behind Cogster really caught my attention. They were recently highlighted in the American Banker. Basically, they are a combination micro-lender and promoter of local businesses.

Local companies identify financial goals they want to achieve, say raising $10,000, and consumers "lend" them the money in return for gift certificates or discounts equal to the amount they contribute. People can donate as little as $10. What I like about this is the promotional aspect of it. Consumers have a real stake in seeing local businesses thrive and there's the social effect as well. If your neighbor is supporting the local merchant, shouldn't you think about it too? The service is currently available in several towns in and around the State College, PA area.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Walking the Walk

Thanks to Jacob Jegher, a Senior Analyst at Celent, I was turned on to the blog, eat sleep social. It's a pretty well written with some good, insight into social media. His latest post, "If you work in social media you need to be active in social media" really resonated with me.
There are too many, well documented stories about social media "experts" or "consultants" who rarely participate in the space. As noted in the post, if you are going to advise people to blog as a business strategy, then you better be blogging about it. A good example are Mike Sweeney and Will Davis of a local marketing firm here in Baltimore, Right Source Marketing. They recommend blogging as a key component of content marketing for their business clients. As marketers themselves, they are "walking the walk" by blogging about their own experiences in their Marketing Trenches blog. It's refreshing to see consistency between the message and the messenger.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It isn't Rocket Science

A tweet came across yesterday from @r2integrated, a digital marketing firm we've worked with for years. The post, entitled "Social Media is Measured by the Sum of its Parts" was from @briansolis, a "prominent thought leader in new media". OK, got it.

He was writing about a recent study by Digital Brand Expressions that found that "52% of social marketers are running social media programs without a defined "game plan". Not surprising, given that many people are trying to figure out if there is any value to it for their organization. Kind of a "try it before you buy it" approach. That's pretty much how we got into it.

He goes on to say, in the next paragraph, to say that "The study found that logistics contributed to visibility, but insight was absent from investing in presence." Huh? I have to admit, I don't have a clue what that means. The rest of the post supports (?) this premise.

This post was re-tweeted 568 times (and counting) since it was published last week. I wonder how many of those people actually read it. If they did, and they see this post, perhaps they can explain it to me. Because all I see is someone making social media seem way more complex that it really is. I mean, c'mon, it isn't rocket science!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Regulators Gone Wild!

Maybe it's because it's Friday, but I had to post a comment on a recent memo I received. It really hit home just how out of touch with reality the current banking regulatory environment has become. As a result of a recent Compliance exam finding, we just issued a Corporate-wide Policy on.......drum roll please...... Policies and Procedures. So what's next? A Policy on the Policy about Policies and Procedures? Will the madness never end?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Banking Executives- listen up

I recently came across an article on the Huffington Post by Brett King, consultant and author of the book, Bank 2.0: How Customer Behavior and Technology Will Change the Future of Financial Services. Entitled "The 5 stages of social media grief", he describes the process that many executives go through as they deal (or don't, in many cases) with social media in financial services. I recommend you read it, whether you see the value in social media or not. It's as much about dealing with innovation as it is about social media.
Social media, and the impact on relationships with your customers, is not a fad. It is (as I've said before) just another extension of the Internet channel. As he concludes, start with the customer in mind and the rest will fall into place. It's pretty sound advice.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Some random thoughts and comments

Some random thoughts and comments on a hot and muggy day in Baltimore.............

  • Recently had a conversation with an industry analyst about social media. She commented that many banks have avoided social media activity until they have an exit strategy. Huh? Did you have an exit strategy when you started your corporate website or built online banking? Social media is an extension of, not separate from, your activities through the web. No more, no less.

  • I've been really impressed with the way Jesse Torres, CEO of Pan American Bank uses social media. Their Facebook page provides lots of information about their activities in and around their community. He isn't afraid of getting involved in controversy either, as you can see from this post on the blog LA Eastside.

  • I came across a blog post focusing on a Twitter marketing strategy to bankers. I've found Twitter to be a great way to connect with others in the industry, stay up to date on trends, and generally stay informed. The people/brands I follow offer relevant information from both themselves and others. If all I see is a constant stream of self serving tweets, I' m not following you.

  • Speaking of people in the industry, Ron Shevlin of the Aite Group is one worth following. He has some terrific insights and perspectives (and the occasional rant) on his blog Marketing Tea Party. Plus, he's attended over 75 Dead concerts over the years, which makes him a rock star in my book.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bridging the Generation Gap (one message at a time)

So my daughter and son just celebrated their 27th and 24th birthdays this past week. (full disclosure: I was 12 when she was born. okay, okay not really.) Normally, I'd give them a call (on their mobile phone, of course) and wish them a happy birthday. Not this year.

This year, I left my son a birthday greeting on his Facebook page since he's at home (temporarily). For my daughter, who is out on her own (thank goodness) and has a steady job, I sent a text message since she communicates most regularly with her friends that way. The funny thing is, she thought it was kind of cute that her Dad was communicating that way and she actually called me to tell me. My son, of course, said nothing about it. But hey, that's just the way boys are so I'd expect nothing less.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting ready for e-Finance next week

I'll be co-presenting at the e-Finance Marketing & Innovation Conference in New York next week. Our session is entitled Social Media in Action: Turning Customers into Lifers. We are focusing on some very specific examples of our social media interactions and avoiding the theoretical discussions that seem to dominate so many of these events. If you are attending, please say hello. I'd love to meet some of my "virtual" readers in person.

As we were prepping for the event, it gave me a chance to reflect on the growth of my own engagement with others through the social media outlets. From my first tweet in October, 2008 to today, when I'm checking in via FourSquare, writing both a personal and company blog, on Facebook, and, of course, tweeting on a regular basis. It's been an interesting journey that doesn't look to end soon. Wonder what's next......

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FI's and Personal Financial Management

After a very enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to complete my post about the Panel discussion at Net.Finance. After our social media discussion, the second topic we covered was around Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools. Mark Schwanhausser of Javelin Strategy has been a huge proponent of PFM's. In fact, Javelin research has found that of consumers who are looking for money management help, 63% want to see all their accounts and transactions in one place.

Both Stu Fisher and I are introducing PFM solutions at our organizations later this year. Addison Avenue is working with Jwaala while we are working with Geezeo. Our solution, called Mariner360, is going through Beta testing right now. Unlike Addison Avenue, our solution will not be integrated into our Online Banking platform. This is for two reasons. One, the time frame to integrate the two platforms would have been prohibitive. Two, we actually think each solution addresses different and distinct needs. Online Banking is a tool for performing tasks, like checking a balance, transferring funds, or paying a bill. Mariner360 will provide our customers a more holistic view of their assets and liabilities to manage their whole financial life. Providing a place to set budgets, goals, and manage their financial life is what we should be doing for our customers. Our Mariner360 platform will help us meet that role.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Social Media discussion from Net.Finance

As mentioned in a previous post, I attended the Net.Finance Conference in Chicago last week. It was a very nice turnout of financial institutions, investment firms, insurance companies, and vendors. One of the personal highlights was watching a Cubs game from the Wrigley Field Rooftop Club as a guest of Rosetta, one of the long time sponsors of the event. I had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussion called Prioritizing Technology Initiatives to Gain Competitive Advantage along with Stu Fisher, SVP of Addison Avenue FCU and Mark Schwanhausser, a Research Analyst with Javelin. Social Media and Personal Financial Manager (PFM) solutions were the two primary topics. Today's post will focus on social media.

Both of our companies have been early adopters of social media including Twitter, FaceBook, and Blogs. Addison Avenue recently added some community groups and hired a social media manager to add focus to their efforts. We will be adding a Community component to our site in June. There are some compelling reasons for participating in social media. Javelin's research indicates that over 52% of all consumers are active in social networking, with the 35-44 year-old's the fastest growing segment.

While our organizations are very different, we did agree on one key point. Social media should be an extension of, and not separate from, your overall web strategy. Let's face it, bank web sites can be somewhat boring with product descriptions and (lots) of regulatory disclosures. Our goal has been to connect with customers and prospects, build the brand, and have some fun in a less formal environment. How you use it, or whether you even participate or not, depends on your overall strategy.

Next post will be on the Personal Financial Management discussion from Net. Finance.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Follow Up on the Social Media Policy

I had an opportunity to reach out to a number of local Technology people about their social media policies, including Steve Kozak of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council and Larry Fiorino, the CEO of G.1440. Here's what I've found:
  • A few companies have one. There is even a site that publishes corporate policies if you want to see some samples.
  • Other companies simply block access to the sites for all employees with no exceptions.
  • Most other companies simply don't have a policy and don't seem concerned about it.

We finalized ours this week and it is a pretty good combination of suggested behaviors (Netiguette) while addressing the compliance and legal concerns. We'll be sharing this with our employees shortly and making it part of our Employee Handbook as well. In a highly regulated industry, we think it is important.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Developing a Social Media Policy

We've been grappling with a social media policy for the last couple of months. It's been an interesting process. Much of the content has been gleaned from other larger corporations who publish their policies. Our goal is to provide guidance to "official" bank social media participants as well as other employees as they engage in their social networks. Very challenging.
Let's face it. The line between business and personal is so blurred when you add in the social media component. Some of the questions we are dealing with are, for example, do you prohibit or simply discourage the use of social media sites during the work day? If so, how do you monitor this and what are the consequences if you are caught? These are just two examples of the challenges facing us in this highly regulated environment. I'd love to hear from others on how they are addressing these issues.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Upcoming Social Media Conferences

I'll be participating in two conferences in the next couple of months that I thought I'd mention to the readers of my blog.

One that I'm attending for the third year is the Net.Finance 2010- Marketing for Banks "Improving Your Online And Mobile Channel Performance To Deliver A Differentiated Customer Experience", May-11-12th in Chicago. I'll be part of a panel discussion "Prioritizing Technology Investments to Gain Competitive Advantage". Also on the panel will be Mark Schwanhausser of Javelin Strategy & Research and Stu Fisher of Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union. This is always an excellent conference with great networking opportunities.

The other one is a new event from the World Research Group called "The e-Finance Marketing & Innovation Conference", June 22-23rd in New York City. I'll be joined by my colleague, Steve Kruskamp, and our topic will be "Social Media in Action: Turning Customers into Lifers". We'll have some real world examples from our experiences in the social media trenches. It looks to be a pretty good lineup of speakers including William Azaroff from Vancity Credit Union and Shari Storm of Verity Credit Union.

If you are looking for opportunities to connect with others in the financial services ecommerce area, these look to be two pretty good events to consider. Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is it time for Mobile Banking?

Mobile Banking seems ready to explode. Javelin Strategy & Research forecasts that over 191 million U.S. Consumers will have cell phones by 2012. According to the Online Banking Report, mobile banking has "reached the point where online banking was a decade ago". And, as Net Banker reported this week, Bank of America is rolling out their Text Banking service after supporting mobile (WAP and downloadable apps) for over three years.
One of the key questions is how will this new service mesh with the current online offerings. Many are suggesting that this will appeal to a different market than the current online banking customers. The Gen Y's, for example, have grown up tethered to their cell phones. Then there are the Underbanked who use mobile devices. They have found other ways to manage their personal finances without using the typical services of banks but might be open to a mobile option.
We will be introducing a mobile solution later this year. We are pretty excited about the offering and think it will help us attract and retain the younger consumers. If you are an FI with mobile banking, I'd love to hear what your experience has been.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ally Bank Redux

Back in February, during the worst winter storms we've seen in decades, I went on a bit of a "rant" abut the Ally Bank commercials. Basically, the message seemed somewhat hypocritical from a bank run by former "Big Bank" executives and supported by the U.S. Government (read: taxpayers).

So it is with a sense of irony that I received a solicitation in the mail from Ally Bank to open an interest checking account. No, they aren't stalking (mocking?) me. You see my mortgage is held by GMAC Mortgage and this offer came through them. The product itself is compelling: interest checking with no minimum balance, no ATM charges, and no monthly fees. Sounds like a pretty good deal just not sure how they can make any money on the account. But I guess they don't have to worry about that.....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Content + Visibilty + Promotion= Increased Readership

At our financial institution, we've had a Blog for over two years. Frankly, it was buried in our About Us section with little traffic to it. Recently, however, we've seen some significant increases due to two significant events. First, we posted an article discussing the Reg E changes coming up this summer and designed a banner on the home page to promote it. In a little over two weeks, this post alone has generated 601 page views and 6 comments from customers. Second, we brought the Blog "front and center" to a more prominent spot on our Home Page. Given the traffic on our home page, we think this will dramatically increase our page views and comments. We are really excited about the initial results!
And, of course, we continue to use social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to make our extended networks aware of the new posts. Let's face it, content and visibility without promotion is like a tree falling in the forest; does anybody really hear it?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Social Media Marketing Tactics Going Mainstream?

According to recent research from Unica, via the eMarketer website, social marketing has become a "must have" in organizations. That said, the integration of these sites varies significantly by tactic. Many of the tools continue to be used for discrete events not directly connected to the overall marketing campaigns.
We've seen the same challenge in our institution. How do these statistics compare to your experience with social media marketing in your organization? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bankers Take Note: Facebook Market Share Surpasses Google

As noted in a recent Socialnomics blog post, Hitwise has documented that Facebook now exceeds Google in weekly market share. Traffic increased 185% from the same time last year versus a 9% increase for Google.

So what, you ask? Well, for those bankers who have chosen to sit on the sideline and avoid the social media, the "Tipping Point"is here. While you depend on the traditional Internet marketing efforts using Google search terms and SEO strategies, your customers (and prospects) are flocking to social media sites like Facebook. It may be time to rethink your strategy. Many of your competitors already have.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bank of America makes the first move

As everyone in the financial services industry, and many consumers are now aware, Bank of America announced they are ending overdraft fees on Debit Card transactions beginning this summer. You know it's a big deal when the story makes it to the Today Show. This is their answer to the recent Regulation E changes enacted by the Federal Reserve that take place later this year.

On the surface, this appears to be a consumer friendly solution from a bank that has been battered in the public relations arena. They've taken a lot of heat (often unfairly) for the bank bailout and the mortgage crisis. They really need something to repair their image.

Our bank, on the other hand, is taking a different approach. We see this as an opportunity to both educate consumers and allow them to make the decision, not us. For more information, take a look at this post on our bank's web site. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, March 5, 2010

If Girl Scouts of America Can Do It .....

As most people know, January through April are the primary selling months for Girl Scout Cookies. Girl Scouts all around the country go door to door selling their cookies, the major fundraiser for theses local groups since 1917. The selling process has remained pretty much the same since it's inception. Until now.
Last night, on the National Public Radio (NPR) program "All Things Considered", there was a story about a troop outside of San Francisco that is using online appeals through various channels, including social media outlets like Facebook. It is fantastic to see these young entrepreneurs using today's technology to market their products, in addition to the more traditional sales approach. There is a lesson to be learned for those of you who aren't sure about the value of social media. These Girl Scouts and their leadership certainly get it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Not to Lose a Customer

Reg E changes. The term sends shivers down the backs of bankers all over the country. For those who aren't familiar with the changes, effective August 15, the Federal Reserve revised Regulation E to address checking account overdraft fees on certain consumer transactions. The final rule limits the ability of financial institutions to assess an overdraft fee unless a customer agrees, in writing, to the overdraft service. The consumer will be asked to either "opt in" or "opt out" of the service. If they don't respond by the effective date, they will automatically be opted out.

While this seems like a very consumer friendly act, it could very easily turn into a major issue for our customers. Many banks provided customers with a form of overdraft courtesy, essentially allowing customers to overdraw their account, pay the transaction, and charge a fee. While it is often abused by some, it can also prevent those occasions, like at the grocery store, where having your purchase declined would be really embarrassing. It's going to be pretty difficult to explain to a customer as they are closing their account because you "did this to them".

So it is incumbent on us to educate our customers before this goes into effect. But there's the real challenge. How do you explain the impact when they weren't even aware of this unadvertised, behind the scenes service? Bottom line is, for the sake of our customer's, we better figure it out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Too Much Snow and TV

After spending way too much time snowed in and watching a lot of television in the last couple of weeks, I felt it was time to get something off my chest. I am really put off by the Ally Bank commercials.
You know the ones, where, for example, the girl is offered a ride on a bike then told she can't ride outside of the box without a penalty. The implication being that their competitors are too restrictive. On their web site, they highlight their high deposit rates, low overhead, and their well capitalized status, exceeding the guidelines of the FDIC.

Hey, as a consumer, I'm all for competitive rates and a great customer experience. And a lot of banks, especially big ones, made some really bad decisions over the last few years. What really bothers me is this company, with this management team, is leading this charge. Here are some facts:
  • Ally Bank is the former GMAC Bank started in 2001 and re-branded in May, 2009. It is a unit of GMAC Financial Services, an organization that, since December of 2008, has received $16 billion in TARP Funds.

  • The senior management team is run by former executives of some of the largest (and most troubled) banks including Bank of America and Citigroup.

So basically, we have an organization that is run by the same people who built these "traditional banks" that they say don't meet the needs of their customers. And their capital comes from the Federal Government, which stepped in and saved the failing parent. Interesting.

For those of us out here in the "real world" of financial services, who didn't get TARP funds, don't have the luxury of a new start, and struggle with a myriad of confusing regulations, give us a break. We really are trying to do the right things for our customers.

Wow, glad I got that off my chest. Now if this damn snow would just go away......

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Social Networking Systems in Japan

Despite the challenging travel conditions around Baltimore yesterday, we had the pleasure of meeting with Daisuke Ishii and Yukihisa Hode, two Senior Researchers from The Center for Financial Industry Information Systems (Japan). The FISC is a Japanese nonprofit research organization founded in 1984 and supported by some 700 Japanese financial services organizations and vendors marketing to that industry. The meeting was coordinated by Michael Parentice, an independent consultant based in the United States.
FISC's current research project relates to new media and social networking in Japan's financial services industry. As input, they are seeking best practice examples from leading U.S. financial institutions that are leaders in the use of social media. Based on Mr. Prentice's research, he felt that 1st Mariner Bank was one of the organizations that they should meet. This was the first visit on their five day trip across the country that includes meetings with
Bank of America, Umpqua Bank, and Wells Fargo. We are honored to be included in this short list of U.S. financial institutions.
There are over 700 banks and credit unions in Japan, ranging from four mega-banks to over 600 smaller community institutions under $2 billion. Adoption rates have lagged behind other industries, where 10.5% of all businesses are active in social networks while FI's are at 6.9%. Mixi, the largest social network in Japan, has over 17.9 million users, so there is plenty of opportunity to connect with these consumers.
As we discussed the evolution of our efforts, it became clear that there are significant challenges to their FI's involvement in social networks. Here are just a few of the points articulated by our guests:

  • Given the conservative nature of the banking industry in Japan, it has been very difficult to get consensus across the organization to engage their customers through the social networks.

  • The Japanese culture is one of collaboration. So many of the initial social media efforts have focused on internal corporate use for information sharing and communication.

  • Selecting and agreeing on the target markets. Again, by working through a consensus management style, it takes time to make these decisions and take action.

The challenge they face is that social media is messy, always changing, and an uncontrollable space. Sometimes you just have to have an initial plan, make the leap, and learn on the fly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Every 9 seconds a kid drops out of school

I've been a supporter and volunteer for a great organization called the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Founded in New York in 1987, NFTE's mission is to " provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities." The goal is to encourage entrepreneurship, increase financial literacy, and provide participants a reason to stay in school and continue their education. The Baltimore NFTE office works with over 200 middle and high school students through teachers certified to teach the NFTE curriculum. Throughout the year, the students identify a business idea, build a business plan and, if possible, establish a business. They work with mentors from the private sector to refine their business plans and develop their businesses. To encourage these young entrepreneurs, there are numerous local and regional business plan competitions, where they compete against students from other schools for cash prizes.

For those who are good enough to win these local competitions, there is the opportunity to be nominated and compete in the national business plan competition in New York, for $10,000. Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon , from award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio, follows these students as they prepare for and compete in this very intense competition. As a NFTE volunteer at Patterson High School in East Baltimore, I am the mentor for two students, William Mack and Ja'Mal Wills (pictured above), who are featured in this film. Their company, J & W Sensations, produces an all natural skin lotion. As a mentor and friend of these guys, I am incredibly proud of them and all they have accomplished. The film was released nationally in November and will debut on BET this Sunday, February 7th at 12 noon. I encourage everyone to watch this powerful and moving story about these young entrepreneurs from around the country.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Big week for Social Media

Well, It's been a pretty interesting week around here. This morning, an article about our use of Twitter was released in the Baltimore Business Journal. A small excerpt can be seen here. We were pretty excited to be recognized for these efforts.

Later in the afternoon, we participated in Digital Insight's 2nd Twitter Town Hall with the topic of "Financial Fitness for Financial Institutions". The discussion (which can be see at #ditownhall) focused on FI's 2010 plans to address the financial needs of the consumer. It was a very interesting dialogue with a lot of participation from individuals and institutions around the country. We really appreciated the opportunity to participate.

One interesting point. There appear to be few of our peers in the banking industry who actively participate in this channel. The Journal article specifically mentions other, local FI's who aren't even exploring social media. In the Town Hall, many of the participants were from credit unions or the credit union industry. They really get it. We were really the "token" bank involved in the discussion. Seems like many other banks are missing a huge opportunity to connect with their communities via these other channels.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some takeaways from the GBTC Digital Media event

I just participated in a Greater Baltimore Technology Council event entitled "Digital Media in Action: Engaging, Implementing & Creating Tangible Outcomes". My associate, Steve Kruskamp, and I shared with the group the evolution of social media in our organization.
I also had the chance to attend a couple of other sessions as well. Here are some takeaways.

Todd Marks and Vince Buscemi of Mindgrub Technologies talked specifically about a recent project for Voice of America in China and the ROI of that effort. What I really liked, and want to explore in 2010, is the use of widgets to engage our customers. We are rolling out a new PFM application this year and a widget that could logically make a connection with the new service could be a good fit. We'll have to look into it.

Will Davis and Mike Sweeney of RightSource Marketing talked about the blog as the hub of your social media efforts. From their perspective, it is especially critical in the B2B space. It can replace the "first meeting" and provide an opportunity for prospects to see how you think, not just visit your website to see what you do. I think that is some great advice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Friendly Wager With Geezeo

So Sunday I'm getting ready for the Ravens-Patriots playoff game, picking up some steamed shrimp, when I get a tweet from @pglyman from Geezeo. He and @shawnward are Pats fans and they want to place a friendly wager on the game. Sounds good. To hear (and see) the rest of the story, check out this video we made about the outcome. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow?! In Baltimore?! This weekend?!

On December 4th, we posted the following on Twitter: "1stMarinerBank: Snow?! In Baltimore?! This weekend?!"
In less than 5 minutes, we received the following message back: "@1stMarinerBank Snow in Baltimore? Not ready for that yet. Heading there next week and would love to meet you."
It was from a company called Geezeo, a provider of an online Personal Financial Management (PFM) product that they sell to financial institutions. Unbeknown to them (I think), we were ready to commit to this service with another, well established vendor in a matter of days. In fact, the contract was in our Legal area for review. The offering is considered to be the "Best in Class" in the industry, but it wasn't exactly what we wanted. So, while it didn't seem necessary, as a courtesy we agreed to meet since they had reached out to us through Twitter.

We met in our offices on December 10th. We were blown away. It was like they had designed exactly what we wanted- at a pricing model that made sense for us. By December 14th we received a proposal, negotiated a few terms, and had the final agreement from them on December 17th. Wow! Now that is the speed and power of social media.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What not to say on Twitter

The Financial Brand, one of my favorite banking sites, recently published it's top ten most popular stories during the year. One, in particular, caught my attention: "10 tweets you shouldn't send (and why)" from June, 2009. For the details, I suggest that you check out the actual post. Here, though, are the primary lessons I took from it.

  • Focus on quality not quantity. People can tell the difference.

  • If you have an offer, make it compelling. If you are sharing information, make it relevant and interesting.

  • If it seems boring and mundane to you, it probably is. Don't send it.