Twitter: what’s the value?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

After several months of wondering why anyone would care why anyone else was having a latte, I met Phil Whitehouse, now the GM of Ogilvy & Mather in Australia, then a manager in a British Telecom internal start-up (you can guess the end of that story). We spent a day together at the 2008 Wimbledon (sounds posh?!), the year that Nadal defeated Federer in the 5th set in the dark. You can tell whom I rooted for.

After a couple of 10 am Pimms Cups, we talked about how his small team survives the currents of a much larger company. He replied,”we don’t ask for budget beyond our salaries. We use whatever free tools that we can get our hands on. Twitter, for example. It’s a fast, easy to use, no-cost tool. Plus you have to get your message across in 140 characters.”

We don’t’ use the BT CRM system. We’ve agreed that each day, each of the nine of us on the team will try to share one item that we think may be of interest to the other eight on the team. By the end of the week, we’ll have nearly 50 items of, hopefully, useful customer information.”

I’ve been a fan since to an extent that I’ve never rallied in Facebook’s favor. In my own realm, Twitter is, indeed, a valuable learning tool. I know the music, travels, personal interests, professional discoveries and humor of many people with whom I’d be lucky to have a 5 minute conversation at a conference. Twitter is the best source of my own professional development.


Two aspects of this media make me wonder. How many of a certain age still perceive Twitter as waste of public bandwidth by those who believe or hope that the world cares that they’re having a coffee? And if Twitter cannot make money given its membership and audience and near ever-presence, are we returning to the days of the dot com busts?

As answering machines replaced phone messages, as email replaced answering machines, as texts replaced email – for those of a certain age- I believe that the near instantaneous sharing of examples, photos, videos, links, insights and events will transform broadly how we connect and how we share. Twitter describes more an evolving capability for grand scale collaboration than it does an opportunity to make money an old fashioned or familiar way. It’s another step forward in a new way of sharing. I guess that if you are reading this, you probably know this. Let’s have a coffee sometime.

Social Media and Financial Institutions: Facts, Findings & Recommendations

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010


As compiled by a colleague at IBM Research. Offer to refer you if you are interested in source documentation. I especially agree that these communication techniques are widely ignored by established businesses; maybe because they seem to lessen traditional organizational controls. May the best methods win.

■About 30{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} are following their bank on a social networking site
■of those who are following 2/3rds are male, however female activity
is growing significantly faster so this will level out
■of those who are following 2/3rds earn $100K+
■significant age differential
♦18-30 years most active
♦31-49 less active
♦50+ least active
■Websites, social media and financial social networks are bringing
much greater transparency to consumers as they learn about and buy
financial products from providers. This increasing transparency
places consumers in the driver’s seat in their financial services
■The financial services marketplace is evolving from a one-to-one
relationship between customer and bank, toward an environment where
multiple financial partners will influence customer choices.
■Understanding the workings of a community will be more about
ethnography and human behavior than about technology issues.
■For Gen Y – order of web visit volume: Facebook, Search, E-mail,
Porn (traditional distribution search then porn)

Key Findings
■Use of social networking still in its infancy and few financial
institutions use it strategically
■Social will become a key customer channel that no business can
■Early adopters focus on marketing (at the cost of reducing print
and TV add budgets)
■Slightly more than half of the firms surveyed have a Facebook
presence today, with two‐thirds of the rest planning to use the
site. Twitter was the next most popular tool, used at 44{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} of firms,
followed by YouTube, in use at 38{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} of FIs.
♦Financial Institutions use this today
♦63{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Facebook
♦49{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Twitter
♦44{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} LinkedIn
♦33{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} YouTube
♦32{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Blog
♦21{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} User‐generated content
♦17{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Flickr or other photo sharing site
♦15{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Customer review sites
♦7{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} Financial services social networking sites
■Chief compliance officers (CCOs) in institutionally oriented firms
are more inclined to ban social media than permit it, as the
monitoring of employee activity alone can take a staggering amount
of time. The world of social networking is booming with various
types of general and niche‐ category platforms, and a litany of
associated applications that help individuals repost videos, share
information, and vote on content. It’s quite a lot to track,
particularly given the business, client, and operational processes
that compliance teams must already stay on top of.

■Use customer data more efficiently and effectively. Look externally
to retailers to learn lessons and internally to sources such as
payment data to make this work.
■Break through the hype and understand how customers really want to
use technology — for example, mobile phones — and deliver products
and services that customers will actually want to use.
■The best approach in the short term will be to focus on social
networking’s core strengths: communication, relevance, and

1st day of Autumn

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Tempo in the technology sales sphere picks up. Four customer related briefings yesterday and several last week. I’m trying to figure-out why middle aged IT execs don’t embrace the potential of social media or Web 2.0?! They acknowledge that something is going on, mostly as they observe their children’s habits, and yet make little related progress or effort.

One reason could be that I’m speaking to IT execs. Two recent meetings with marketing staff, a combined total of 23 attendees revealed that 22 used iPhones. In one meeting of 11, each attendee of a range of ages had one! I spoke to 90+ IT execs last week, 7 had iPhones and the audience agreed that Social Media is only the new wrapper for relationship building.

Yesterday, an energy company expressed interest in meeting with me for a briefing because of the 200 interns that they hired for the past summer, 195 in their program evaluation forms expressed dismay at the absence or recommended that this company offer Facebook and Linked-In and You Tube access to employees. This wired demographic approaches with quite different expectations of work and relationships than even their parents.

Maybe I should resurrect the notion of the sea-change in technology introduction brought on by the CD-ROM in the early 1990s. I believe that it could be argued that this was the first really useful item of business productivity brought to the office from home. Prior, phone, mobile phones, typewriters, monitors, computers et al were brought home from the office. In the span of less than one generation, mom and dad look into the basement or den or children’s bedroom for insight into the future tools of their office environment. I know that I do. And lately, I am impressed with how much You Tube video that my teenage son looks at to learn about music or sports or even – ready for this – his schoolwork.

I try to comfort my customers about the potential of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook by suggesting that these are indeed quite fundamental, maybe even crude, but so was the personal computer in the early eighties. I recall a manufacturing expert at the largest of computer companies (at that time) telling me that he did not own a PC because it only seemed useful for “collecting recipes and writing letters (printed on that dot matrix, tabbed paper device). At that time, who could have envisioned having two applications open such as word processing and a spreadsheet, much less global interconnectivity of these machines or the form-factor being smaller than a calculator of that time. Here’s one: my first HP caluculator cost nearly $500 in 1973; my 16gb iPhone cost $200 in 2008. And the iPhone includes a decent calculator.
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