If A Lawyer & Bank CEO Can Use Social Media, So Can You!

Tema Frank, newly minted Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers

Tema in her banker suit (circa 1985!)

My first long-term job was working with all the top bank lawyers in this country.

I had been debating whether to do a law degree or an MBA. With apologies to my brother (who is a lawyer), this experience sent me fleeing to the Rotman MBA program.

Maybe if I’d met more bank lawyers like Peter Aceto, now the CEO of ING Direct in Canada (now called Tangerine), I might have changed my mind. Peter blogs, he tweets (@PeterAceto), and he’s remarkably frank about both the advantages and the risks of being so open and transparent.

Social Media Management for the Risk-Averse

1. Have Guiding Principles & Values

As Peter says in the interview, “you need principles because you can’t give somebody a rule book about how to answer every permutation and question” that might arise. But if they get the values and principles, they’ll usually be OK.

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2. Give Social Media Training & Practice

It’s important to give great training before staff wade into social media because otherwise they’ll be “coached” so often at first that they’ll be afraid to make a decision of their own. But do monitor and coach as you go along, so they can refine their skills.

3. Do Crisis Communication Simulations

This is especially important if you are about to launch something new. Do a run through, testing out all the possible worst-case scenarios. You might not be able to think of everything, but you can probably plan for most risks.

4. Lower Risk By Involving Users

I don’t know why people are still so reluctant to do usability testing of websites, software and other products. It is SO useful! It’s best if you can use outsiders, but you can start by testing with employees, then trusted customers, and then go public.

5. Try Management By Lunching Around

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada

Back in my banker days in the early 1980s I was warned never to eat with the secretaries or people would start treating me as if I was one. I’d never be taken seriously by the boys. I hated that kind of class distinction, though, sadly, for a woman in those days it was important. (That said, at least I didn’t treat the clerical staff like idiots or slaves as a lot of the arrogant young “Masters of the Universe” did in that era.)

That’s why I was delighted to hear that Peter Aceto makes it a practice to have lunch with random staff members most days. It’s a great education for him and a terrific loyalty builder for them.

What’s holding your company back from social media?

(If you don’t want to admit it publicly, you can send me an e-mail!)

(Originally aired January 30, 2014)

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