I was recently interviewed for a NY Times Dealbook piece, “On Wall St., Keeping a Tight Rein on Twitter.” None of my quotables made it past the cutting room floor. That’s ok, I’m not bitter, I was thrilled to even be asked. (ht/jb)
William Alden, the author, was really nice about things, we chatted a bit about the big firms’ attempt to be socially hip & relevant. I didn’t hold back, I told him it isn’t going to work… something about “them still being your father’s oldsmobile.” It wasn’t my best work.
Anywho, I want you to read the article’s intro & then let’s meet back up to discuss…
That dash of market analysis on Twitter wasn’t an impromptu thought from an investor. It was a prewritten post, taken from a library of 140-character messages that had been approved by the compliance department of Morgan Stanley and sent out by financial advisers at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
This is how Wall Street firms are tiptoeing into the fast-paced world of social media. Firms like Morgan Stanley must tightly monitor communications to ensure that they are in compliance with securities regulations. As a result, they generally block employees from using social media sites like Twitter or even checking personal e-mail accounts at work. Indeed, the banks underwriting the gigantic Facebook I.P.O. bar their employees from using the social networking site.
So, here’s the thing. I’m sure Fay is a very nice person. Her headshot seems to convey that at least. She even has 116 followers (most of them are social media gurus & spambots). But here’s the thing — as far as her firm goes — she’s unequivocally wasting her time on social media at Morgan Stanley. Why? A couple of reasons. 1) Because Morgan Stanley, UBS, Goldman, Merrill — any of these big firms, are absolutely soulless. And 2) they’re socially retarded.
I’m not saying they’re inherently evil, just soulless. And socially retarded.
Now when I say soulless & socially retarded, I’m not taking a swipe at soulless socially retarded people; that would be really wrong. I’m using Google: Less Advanced, esp. mentally, than is usual for one’s age. Synonyms: backward, delayed. And by definition to have soul means: A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.
So, I’ll break it down for you.
Retarded: Think about it like this — Put simply (and I’ll type slowly) how are these firms, which in some cases are over 100 years old, built on generations of elites, not able to manage something as simple as a message conveyed in 140 characters or less?
Maybe we should make it 100 characters. Would that be better? Maybe we should give them a crayon. Oh, great — they lost it.
And, when it comes to ‘soul’, how is it that we actually expect a firm with 50,000+ people would have an ’emotional nature & sense of identity’?
More to the point, Morgan Stanley is trying to be ‘social’ when it has hedge fund clients, institutional clients, and retail clients; without offending any of their often diametrically opposed clientele — through a menagerie of personalities that is their army of 15,000+ brokers, freshly armed with their select library of compliance-approved tweets. It sounds so compelling, doesn’t it?
So they strive for the lowest common denominator — not offending anyone, or really saying anything with a real opinion that could be deemed wrong in any circle of influence they’re trying to encompass, really ever. And if they are wrong, they’ll just send in their attorneys to negotiate a settlement, without admitting wrongdoing. So, tell me — on a scale from 1 to 10, ten being Aretha “Queen of Soul” Franklin; How soulless is that?
It’s. Not. Going. To. Work. Ever. Never, Ever. — Ever, Ever.
Part 2: Tomorrow — Wall Street’s Guide to Social Media in Six Simple Steps