Can Social Media Help Banks Rebuild
SXSW – March 2010
• Initial challenges
• Issues we face as a regulated entity
• Trust me, legal is your friend
• What it took to get off the ground
• Launching on Twitter
• Additional lessons learned
• Managing a crisis
Social Media is REALLY Hard For Large, Regulated Firms
• A pace a measured in nanoseconds
• The Wild West
• Thriving, Geometrically Growing
• Fort Knox
• A pace measured with a calendar
• Two words…Financial Crisis
Issues Citi faces in social media as a regulated entity
• How do we dialogue with customers when we can’t share the details of their situation? (vs.
@scottmonty and Ford Ranger)
• Phishing, Verification, Information Security
• Crowd sourcing and intellectual property ownership
• How can we be transparent and authentic and protect the franchise?
• When do we trigger advertising & marketing rules? (e.g. FINRA reg. that if >100 people see
something it is considered advertising and undergoes a different review cycle)
• How do we answer people’s call for advice and guidance?
• How do we monitor, police, curate, guide discussions between customers?
• What about aggregated data sharing? (e.g. Bundle, mint, wesabe, blippy)
• No policies
• No technology
• No governance model
• No dedicated staff
• Uncoordinated, “off-the-reservation” efforts
• Design, build, fly
• Listen to the chatter
• Find one project to build the foundation around
• Fight process with process
• Establish command, not control
Our social media approach spans the conversational spectrum
Problems / Complaints
Ratings / Reviews / Feedback
Apply policy /
Active users, Followers,
Fix systemic issues
Additional lessons learned
• Every group has to staff
• Don’t underestimate the time you’ll need to evangelize
• Expect to help everyone else do their job – if you actually want it done in a way
that is usable for something new like social media
• Don’t underestimate how different this is from BAU (e.g. VA, Twitter API, profanity)
• Prepare for the worst, EARLY
Citibank is so not fabulis
“Hi everyone. Jason Goldberg here, founder and ceo of fabulis.
In a bit of strange and disturbing news, fabulis discovered today that someone(s) at Citibank
had decided arbitrarily to block fabulis’ bank account due to what was described to us on the
phone as “objectionable content” on our blog. In fact, the account — it turns out — was
blocked a few days ago without anyone letting us know about it by phone or email.Huh?
Mind you, fabulis is a serious business, backed by some serious players, and for the life of us
we can’t find anything “objectionable” on our blog besides some good humor, some business
insights, and some touching coming out stories from some great and fabulis gay people. So,
what gives? And wtf. When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with
Calls into Citibank tonight resulted in a temporary lifting of the block while a compliance
officer is asked to re-review our website on Thursday. Stay tuned … we’ll update you on this
shocker as we learn more.
I promise you that if we do not get a good response to this on Thursday we are moving our
bank account to a bank that respects and appreciates our business.”
Fabulis Related Posts vs. 3 mos Rolling Avg.
TechCrunch posts a blog titled, “Does Citi suffer from Homophobia or just a General Dislike for Start Ups?”
Twitter dialogue begins as result of the story and grows as other influential financial and tech bloggers post; topic trends on twitter & appears a top
story for business in google blog search
Conversation ebbs & flows as Citi unsuccessfully attempts to resolve the situation & the story is covered by the Huffington Post; Users continue to
discuss on twitter and some write their own responses in blogs
Conversation spikes again as Citi issues a formal apology that fabulis accepts
Dialogue stagnates as users debate whether Citi is sincere and whether or not they have unjustly denied other businesses. General traffic is down
due to the weekend and user conversation being driven primarily by the Chilean earthquake
Dialogue peaks again as updated coverage is released by TechCrunch, GigaOm and other blogs
2/26 2/27 2/28 3/1
Blog posts shared mixed views on policy changes and led to
reinvigorated twitter dialogue
Citi posts changes to policies and procedures
“Citibank Message About Internet Business Accounts
At Citibank, we have learned a great deal from recent customer issues related to Internet business accounts.
Mistakes were made in some instances, in which we apologized and corrected the problem. These issues made
it clear to us that the language in our branch procedures was not specific enough and left too much room for
interpretation from one account to the next.
We recognized that we needed clearer and less subjective guidelines with regard to opening Internet business
accounts. And there were clearly gaps in training and communications around these specific branch procedures.
Based on all these learnings, we’ve taken action and this week we updated and clarified our procedures for
opening all Internet business accounts.
Banks are required by law to conduct due diligence and understand the nature of business accounts. For Internet
business accounts, we have made it clearer to our bankers what the due diligence process entails. For example,
we will continue to reserve the right to decline or suspend an account if we find illegal or discriminatory content,
or if the site involves gambling or pornography. Beyond that specific due diligence, however, we do not monitor or
evaluate our customers’ web content.
We are providing additional training in this area to ensure the procedures are uniformly and correctly followed.
Also, our bankers are now required to have additional consultation with senior level banking executives when
questions arise about these accounts before making any final decisions. This will help to avoid misunderstanding
and subjective decisions, and promote greater consistency throughout the process. And we remain committed to
working with our customers to try to resolve any issues.
As a global organization, we also recognize the power and promise of diversity. In that spirit, we reiterate Citi’s
commitment to serving customers, hiring talent and supporting a broad array of organizations that promote
diversity. To learn more about our diversity efforts, please visit:
These recent customer issues have been a useful learning experience for us. We again apologize for any
misunderstandings that may have occurred. We are committed to improving every day and we’re working to
better” serve our customers.
Senior Vice President, Digital Channel Strategy & Social
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