Corporations are learning quickly that there are perils to not having a social media strategy. The lack of a social media strategy opens the bank up to various unintended consequences, for example, Phishing of clients, security risks and brand attacks. Johnson & Johnson learned first hand the perils of not having a social media strategy when it launched Motrin advertising aimed at mothers that carry their babies in slings, which suggested mothers do this to be fashionable. – rather than because it is healthy for their babies. Angry mothers (dubbed “Motrin Moms”) began Twittering in outrage. It quickly became one of the most Tweeted subjects on Twitter. A video of screen shots from blog posts was put on FaceBook. As one Tweet put it:
“note to self … never <tick> off moms … especially twitter moms … they can be a nasty bunch ”
Johnson & Johnson pulled the advertisement. One of the original bloggers that took offense to the blog later wrote:
“Did Motrin really need to take the ad down? No, I don’t think so.
Yes, I really did say that. Much has been written about how the company (and every brand and every person) ought to monitor their reputation online.”
Although Johnson & Johnson did not engage in the discussion on Twitter, McNeil did and also reached out personally to a few of the Moms who were Tweeting about the ad. In addition, two posts were made to the Johnson & Johnson blog, http://www.jnjbtw.com, providing McNeil’s position.
Gartner has long taken the position that banks need to develop a social media strategy (New Retail Banking Vendors Bring Social Computing to the Savings Account, Virgin USA Buys CircleLending: How Should Banks Respond, Social Lending will Challenge Bank Customer Relationships, FSNs as Technology Providers, I Just Put all my Money into Prosper, Is This your Approach to P2P Lending? Bad Idea. In addition to the perils of not having a social media strategy, the reasons are many:
- Threat of disintermediation by FSNs
- Changing demographics and communication styles
- The need to improve image and restore trust
Social media can provide many benefits in banking. It has the potential to enable:
- Customer engagement
- Enhanced communications (and the opportunity to rebuild trust)
- Customer communication style preferences
We say social media “potential” to do these things because the way it is deployed has everything to do with its ability to deliver on these promises. It is our belief that fragmented forays into the usage of social media will distract focus from the bank’s core value proposition. Yet, this is the approach of many banks today.