Turns out letting people in the finance biz tweet about work isn't all too exciting to anyone not in the finance world. Over the last year or so the generally uptight firms Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley have loosened up a tiny bit, giving select employees permission to tweet about work-related things. Morgan Stanley opened up their policy last May and Deutsche Bank followed with its own Twitter plans in June. Almost a year later, our tweeters haven't had much Twitter success by most measures.
Deutsche Bank only allows one of its workers, Managing Director Ted Tobiason, to tweet, whereas Morgan Stanley has permitted about 600 of its 17,800 financial advisers access to Twitter and LinkedIn, reports DealBook's William Alden, who highlights the account of financial advisor and senior vice president Fay DeBellis. These two accounts give us a good idea of what Twitter in the finance world is like. And (surprise!) it's not too fun, at least not to anyone not in the finance world. Tobiason's tweets involve lots and lots of numbers. Here's his most recent musing:
90% of class of ’11 tech IPOs have traded up so far in 2012, whereas only 42% were up at the end of last year #IPO— Ted Tobiason (@TedTobiasonDB) March 19, 2012
And they're all pretty much like that, with numbers, percents and acronyms like M/A-COM, which mean little to anyone not involved. (Before you bother searching for M/A-COM, it's the name of a company.) DeBellis does a better job of writing tweets for humans, but her feed reads like robot PR copy. Her most recent tweet:
How socially responsible investing stays competitive. scl.bz/zzjCCK— Fay DeBellis (@InvestFayMSSB) March 21, 2012
To ensure the tweets are in compliance with securities regulations, both of these banks insist on pre-screening and in some cases pre-writing all the tweets before they go out into the Internet ether. Morgan Stanley has a library of approved 140 character messages, says Alden. Tobiason, too, has to clear his tweets through the communications department. This process, as you can read, sucks all the fun out of tweeting.
"With all due respect to Morgan Stanley, can they really think that anyone has an interest in being spammed with PR and pre-approved status updates from their broker?" asked the Wall Street Journal's Josh Brown, when Morgan Stanley first announced its Twitter venture last Spring. Not really. These tweets mean nothing to us and DeBellis only has 89 followers (and for those who care, a Klout score of 10). To his credit, Tobiason has done a better job in the follower department, gaining an impressive 1,276 followers. (Though, he has a modest Klout score of 40.)
Twitter isn't all about fun for everyone, but neither Tobiason nor DeBellis has capitalized on Twitter for business success either. DeBellis has has not won any business on Twitter, she told Alden. (Though, she has gotten about $10 million worth of business from Linked In.) Tobiason's feed is a "great PR and marketing opportunity" Joe Ciarallo, vice president of communications at Buddy Media, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Serena Saitto. But since the bank doesn't let Tobiason tweet on his own, he can't really be a part of the "conversation," continues Ciarallo, which as we know, is what Twitter is all about.
Though these Twitter initiatives may look sad to us, Lauren W. Boyman the head of Morgan Stanley's social media operation, insists "internal statistics" show financial advisers having success engaging clients over Twitter, she told Alden. Perhaps the 599 other Morgan Stanley tweeters have had more success than DeBellis? With all those restrictions, however, we can't imagine how.