Barclays : Fixing the rate of interest
The time to build a following is before disaster strikes.
Barclays, a UK-based banking group, is undermining its ability to manage a major crisis through lack of corporate Twitter activity pointing to its strong online material.
Barclays has a corporate Twitter account – @Barclays – but it is inactive. The account is also ‘protected’, with users invited to click the Follow button to request access (no response was received within two days of sending such a request). Six days after Barclays became the focus of a Libor (interbank lending rate) fixing scandal there was no reference (on 3 July) to the crisis in the information panel at the top of the @Barclays page. Nor was there any attempt to direct people to the prominent information about the bank’s response to the crisis that was available on the corporate website. Instead, the page pointed visitors with a ‘UK Retail Banking query’ towards @Barclaysonline, a customer service Twitter account for British retail customers. This account did have a reference to the crisis from the outset, including a link to relevant information on the website, in a ‘promoted’ tweet at the top of the page. It was temporarily removed by Barclays at some point between 30 June and 2 July, but reappeared by 3 July.
Visitors to @Barclays were also directed towards the Barclays ‘customer and client service’ Twitter directory on the Barclays group website. On 3 July, there was no information about the Libor crisis on any of Barclays’ other client-focused Twitter accounts, including @Barclaycard, @BarclaysBizChat, @Barclays_Kenya, @BarclaysStock and @BarclaysWealth.
A corporate Twitter feed is a valuable tool that can be brought into play in a crisis such as the one in which Barclays is mired, but it can only be effective if work has been put into building up an influential following – of journalists, bloggers and other commentators – who can be used to spread your message if trouble does erupt. Letting the account lie dormant and mismanaging access are not the way to go about it. And why did Barclays temporarily remove its ‘promoted’ tweet linking to information about the crisis from its @Barclaysonline feed?
Online activities have a habit of giving away what is happening within an organisation. It’s easy to imagine Barclay’s retail banking executives demanding that the signpost to the announcement be removed from their Twitter feed on the grounds that they do not want to be tainted by association with their disgraced investment banking colleagues. A useful pointer for customers was removed for a period as a result – but that is not on the priority list when an organisation is thinking only about itself.http://twitter.com/#!/BARCLAYS
First published on 03 July, 2012