Banking on Twitter

I’m not gonna lie: I’m not a fan of Twitter. That’s not to say I believe it to be irrelevant or unnecessary to present-day PR initiatives … I just don’t like it. For many users, it’s just one more platform for indulging in “talking at” anyone who will listen. Whether it’s useless posts (hyperlinks without any context don’t do anyone any good) or shameless self-promotions, it’s just too much clutter in an already chaotic social media environment.

That said, PR News hosted a webinar on May 12 about the best ways to leverage Twitter for effective, meaningful communications with stakeholders. Even I—a self-proclaimed Twitter skeptic—was impressed with the creative ways these professionals used the platform to engage customers, manage media and brand themselves and their organizations.

Then I saw this—news that Wells Fargo and Bank of America have begun tweeting with customers—and I wasn’t sure what to think. As the article notes, banks have been more hesitant to embrace social media, so this is bold move to preserve whatever reputation capital they still have with customers. And those customers seem to be raking these bank tweeters over the goals, with one posting this message: “Stop making your living off my late fees! You fine me more than you loan me!”

Your move, banks.

By Courtney Barnes

  • Marcie Casas

    I agree that some aspects of Twitter can be mundane but I think that if you decide up front how you want to use it, and the kind of audience you want to engage with on it, it can be a powerful CRM tool. In fact I wrote the reasons why I’m on Twitter and why I believe companies should be too, here:

  • tami McCarthy

    You can’t be in the communications business and be a Twitter “skeptic” — it’s your professional responsibility to figure out how to leverage this tool effectively. In this “connected era,” communications in the digital age continues to evolve, and so must those that work in the industry. Also, I’m proud of the fact that we helped Citi create a very solid and effective social media strategy that has been positively received by consumers. When done right and in a respectful way, social media networks– including Twitter — help foster better relationships between customer and company. A higher level of engagement on all fronts means people are talking and listening to each other, and that can only be a good thing. — Tami McCarthy, Founder TMG Brand Communications, NYC

  • Shannon @GHCU

    I realize the title of this article is “Banking on Twitter,” but I’d recommend that you also look in to all the credit unions making use of Twitter.

    I Twitter for Group Health Credit Union (@GHCU) in Seattle, and in many ways, Twitter really fits the credit union philosophy–we use it to share information with and give support to our members and other CUs. We talk about special events and deals; we link to useful articles on the new credit card regulations or on avoiding ID theft. It’s a great way for us to be in contact with our members and them with us.

    According to the William Mills study on which all this conversation is based, GHCU rated #2 in volume of tweets, second only to Bank of America; overlooking the contributions of credit unions, while traditional, is as counter-productive as ever.

    I believe credit unions have really been in the vanguard on this one, because Twitter, like CUs, is all about cooperation.

  • cbarnes

    Tami–I definitely expected my statement to raise a few eyebrows, but I wanted to underscore a point that hopefully was clear: My personal feelings about Twitter may be cynical, but I definitely believe it is necessary and relevant to modern communications initiatives. As communications professionals, learning to leverage any and all emerging platforms is critical to success. It’s a subject I research and contemplated thoroughly when writing “Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications,” a book that I co-authored with Paul Argenti, which is being published by McGraw-Hill this summer. We spend lots of time talking about effective uses of Twitter. Perhaps my cynicism exists because so many people don’t use it as effectively as they could …

  • Gail Sideman

    Banks, like other businesses, need to be involved in social media — be in the discussion. Whether they’re present or not, others will talk. It’s to business’ benefit to be engaged, to control and monitor their messages instead of letting consumers and fans do it for them.

    And this is only the beginning of Twitter’s benefit…

  • Bryan Greenwood

    Wow, its been over a year since this article was written and so many banks and credit union have joined Twitter!

    We launched our own company to showcase bank tweets. At, we aggregate the tweets of over 100 banks and credit unions so people have an easy way to connect with their banks.

    -Bryan, Founder,