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In finance, facebook is just a phase we’re going through

My grumpiness just got ten times worse at this treasury conference, as I stood up and started talking about how I use facebook, twitter, blogging etc to leverage my business.

I could see a veil of abandonment enter the faces of the room as they struggled to get what I was saying, so I asked if any of them use facebook, twitter, flickr, tumblr, gropuon et al.


One person piped up and said they use facebook to keep abreast of what their children are doing, and that was it.

I just unfriended the lot of them.

But then I thought, hey ho, they’re corporate treasurers.  Why should they be interested in social media?

So I gave it a chance and launched into my spiel about micropayments, bitcoin, facebook credits, the challenge to security and privacy, the world of change from Square and mobile payments and more.

You name it and I tried to ensure it was, at the very least, discussed and debated, illuminated and understood.

By the end of the meeting, I could see a few more concerned faces.  It’s the usual reaction to my presentation: oh, I just got the fact that the world is disrupted, or that’s what I thought.

So we go to lunch and I’m chatting away with folks who all start with the soft blow: “I enjoyed your presentation” and then follow it up with the classic “but …”

  • “But facebook is just a transient thing”
  • “But people will soon stop using facebook and use something else”
  • “But isn’t facebook just a fad”
  • “But why would I use twitter”
  • “But what’s the point of hearing that someone’s just eaten a cake or posted a letter”
  • “But what’s the relevance of this to me”
  • “But who cares what kids are doing”
  • “But you’re just talking about stuff that’s for someone else who wants to have fun, not me”

No, you don’t want to have fun do you?

We then get into a deeper debate, with some of the folks saying:

  • “How can you discount the idea of a website that is almost as big as India and China”
  • “How can you say something that some kids invest days or weeks of their lives building – their profile – can just be dumped like that”
  • “You need to use twitter to start getting it, as it tells me all I need to know about my competition and clients”

Blah, blah, blah.

It felt a little bit like going back to some kindergarten and teaching children the basics of the alphabet.

That’s fine for a social media education session, but this was supposedly a dialogue about how it would, could and is changing their business models and the models of commerce generally.

Bottom-line: it may not be your job, your colleague’s job, your boss’s job or your CEO’s job to understand social media, but just make darned sure someone in your business does or your business is screwed.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris. As the social media manager for Nutmeg, a soon-to-launch online investment manager, I can’t help but agree with you about the importance of social media in both finance and other industries.

  • Rowan Bosworth-Davies

    Hi Chris, you have just tapped in to the underlying reason why the financial sector is the way it is. Nothing must change. We mustn’t get in line with social media, we have to pretend change isn’t happening, our CEO wants to be paid a Kings ransome even though the share price is 50% down since he joined, and none of us want to fly above the radar just in case our boss (who is even more moribund than we are) thinks we are idiots. And then ask yourself why this country is in the financial shit!

  • David Hannam

    Had a great deal of fun helping @Barclaysonline understand the difficulties in getting their branch staff to AVS me for Pingit. Ended up with me talking on the phone to the indian Pingit helpdesk and explaining what they needed to do. Yes it was new but the large posters in the two branches I tried did not stop it being very entertaining! Used Twitter to live tweet to @Barclaysonline what was happening

  • Hi Chris,
    Just had you recommended by my brother-in-law, a bankers here in Dublin, Ireland. You are right of course the X Gen and the baby boomers do not understand the importance of Social Business.
    They are not aware of the 2 billion people on social or the implications of mobile technology. 4 billion dumb phones to replaced over the next 3 years.
    It is really head in the sand stuff.
    Keep up the good work.

  • So I guess you understand why we’re pretty bullish on our little http://www.Anthemis.com business… 😉

  • Andy Reid

    Chris, from what I see people just need to be educated. Simple as that. Not patronised, scared, incentivised… Just educated. Smart people will get it, the others…well…we move on.

  • S

    Sometimes I wonder why I waste my time trying to explain to people the opportunities social media can open…

  • I think I see both sides here. Social media seems to be appropriate if you are trying to appeal to a large community in a B2C environmen, however when your business involves a more complex proposition & carries a higher price tag – ie. in a B2B environment I think the value of social media diminishes. like so many things it depends on your market and how your existing and prospective customers want to enage with you.
    Maybe Chris can provide some pointers as to how social media has helped him grow his business?

  • Tim Skelton-Smith

    Couldn’t disagree more with your comment, Steve. Social media is an excellent B2B tool. Just look at the conversation in the IFA sector on twitter, or the multitude of b2b forums on LinkedIn. It’s helps to build relationships and for your B2B marketing to become highly targeted.