The following article originally appeared in the print edition of IBAT’s publication The Texas Independent Banker magazine.
By Christopher Williston
For the past five years, community bankers have heard endless calls urging them to wander into the unfamiliar waters of online communities. Timidly, some banks dipped in their toes. Others jumped in, only to be left asking, “now what?” Most ran screaming in the other direction.
“We block all of those sites,” one banker boasted recently. It was clear that he saw Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites as little more than an unnecessary distraction that posed a risk to employee productivity.
Others have shared their concerns about security, noting that social media sites are a point of weakness where a single misclick can result in harmful malware infecting a bank computer.
The practical reasons for a social media blackout are clear. But are there unforeseen consequences of discouraging employees from using the sites?
The population of social media sites is growing at exponential rates. Facebook alone has more than 850 million users, half of whom log in on any given day. LinkedIn, the business social network, touts 150 million users in 200 countries. Sixty hours of new video are loaded to YouTube every minute.
With these statistics in mind it’s safe to assume that, in all likelihood, most of your employees are already using one or more of these sites to connect with their online communities. And, with more than 50% of American adults now owning a smartphone, they don’t need their computer to access the sites and stay connected, even during work hours.
This begs the question: does the blackout of social media sites send an unspoken message to employees that their lives in online social communities should be completely separate from their lives as community bankers?