Twitter. Odd word. Is it a word at all? Is it something you should care about as a community banker? Let me handle these one at a time.
First, Twitter. It definitely is a word. More specifically it is a website that Wikipedia defines as "a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length." Twitter was launched in July 2006. The word Twitter is a backronym created by Comedian Josh Marino; Typing What I'm Thinking To Everyone Reading.
Second, is it something you should care about as a community banker? It depends. If you target market is 100% Traditionalist or Baby Boomer (see Gen Y and the Community Bank), no. However if your target market includes Gen Y (born after 1977), and in some cases Gen X (born 1965 to 1977), you should take a serious look at Twitter and other social media tools. For most community banks, a decision to ignore Gen Y will eventually represent a decision to slowly see business wither away. Gen Y will soon represent the largest segment of the US population; they will soon outnumber Baby Boomers.
A great place to start learning more about Gen Y is in the book Millennial Leaders: Success Stories From Today's Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders . Doing business with Gen Y is very different than doing business with their predecessors. Click here to learn more about a free webinar on doing business with Gen Y on March 4, 2009.
Back to Twitter.
What is Twitter? To quote their homepage, "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" In my experience, it is much more than this! It is a great way to reach a very large group of potential prospects in a very low cost (free), non-intrusive and non-offensive way if you follow the proper etiquette of Twitter. To put it "old school", it's a form of networking.
In doing my research for this post I did a search on Twitter to learn who is already there from the banking community and how they are using Twitter.
I was most impressed with Wachovia (http://twitter.com/Wachovia), which became part of Wells Fargo (http://twitter.com/WellsFargo) at the beginning of this year. Wachovia indicates "We're here primarily to listen, to learn, to engage with the Twitter community and, occasionally, to share information about our company and services." in their Bio. There are currently 1,736 users following the posts Wachovia makes on Twitter.
Okay community bankers, here is the most valuable piece of information in this post! When I looked up Wells Fargo, their Bio says "We're holding our name for now, but hope to participate soon." There are 438 people following them already. The moral of the story? Register your bank name on Twitter immediately after reading two blog posts on choosing a name! Sarah Evans discusses choosing a Twitter ID and much more in a post entitled HOW TO: Build Community on Twitter on Mashable.com. Rick Butts offers some useful tips on the importance of the correct Twitter ID and how to change it if you picked the wrong one in a blog post entitled How to Change Your Twitter Username ID on RickButts.com.
Here are a few other examples of banks currently using Twitter well, and banks that show good potential.
Using Twitter well:
North Shore Bank, Wisconsin and Illinois - http://twitter.com/NorthShoreBank
1st Mariner Bank, Baltimore MD - http://twitter.com/1stMarinerBank
First Arkansas Bank, Arkansas - http://twitter.com/fabandt
Showing good Twitter potential:
Northeast Bank, Maine & New Hampshire - http://twitter.com/Northeast_Bank
Nicolet Bank, Northeast Wisconsin, Green Bay - http://twitter.com/nicoletbank
Chesapeake Bank, Virginia - http://twitter.com/chesbank
Fidelity Bank, Greater Scranton/Wilkes-Barre PA - http://twitter.com/Fidelity_Bank
Are you wondering where to start? Here's what I suggest:
Community bankers start your engines! You're ready to begin.
There is an eight minute video of Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, on Ted.com that is absolutely worth watching! Check out Evan Williams: How Twitter's spectacular growth is being driven by unexpected uses. Follow Evan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ev. He's a pretty popular guy with 190,497 followers on Twitter as I write this post.
Oh yes, and be sure to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffsimpkins