Thursday, June 28, 2012

Judgment Call: Do Prepared Tweets Miss the Point of Social

I'm part of the Financial Times' Judgment Call panel - a group of business people called on from time to time for advice on the burning issues of the day for publication online and in print.
On Wednesday this week the panel consisted Don Tapscott (author Wikinomics) WhipCar.com co-founder Vinay Gupta and myself (as Co-Founder of 90:10 Group).

You can read the column in full in the print edition of June 27, 2012 or online (nb: the FT has a metered paywall model for content).
Or you can click on the images here to see larger versions.

click image to enlarge
The Problem was framed:
"Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has announced that it will allow its financial advisers to use Twitter and Linkedin, providing they tweet from a library of pre-written messages. Does this defeat the purpose of should it be commended for embracing technology?


Here's what I had to say (which was lightly edited for publication):

They appear to be thinking of social media as little more than a way in which they can indulge in direct selling. It’s a reductionist approach to human interaction which seeks to simplify the possibilities to: buy/sell. In doing so it misses out on the customer-led insight and innovation those prepared to be more human benefit from.

Indeed, you could ask why they bother attaching humans to the Twitter accounts at all when selecting from a library could as easily be achieved by a bot – and with less room for risk via human error.

Click to image to enlarge
This crippling desire for control (also found elsewhere in the financial sector) could undermine the whole enterprise. It’s humans that people are likely to trust and buy from. This too-controlled version of humanity will provide a confusing and eerily corporate view of the collection of people inside Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

It also carries the risk of becoming the banking world’s equivalent of Apple’s Siri – and we all know how much fun people have had trying to catch Siri out.

On the plus side at least they have a control group of 20 who are being given a freer hand to be themselves. My guess is they will out-perform their bot-like brethren.


I was also on the Judgment Call panel when Morgan Stanley first started its twitter experiment a year ago (the recent interest is in a global roll-out to 18,000 staff after a year long trial). Click here to compare.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?