Saturday, September 29, 2012

Guest Post: Why Banks Fear Blogs by Dana Dobson

Banks have been dragging their feet about blogging since the beginning, rather than embracing the opportunities it offers. They are consumed by anxious questions:

• How do I protect customers and our technology infrastructure from phishing attacks to get customers to click links that lead to malware?

• What if one of our representative blogged a statement that was used as investment advice by a reader?

• What if I miss a customer’s complaint or I don’t document it properly?

• What if we fail to issue the proper disclosures? Can the bank be cited for a compliance violation?

• What if we get negative comments?

At the same time, bank regulators raise issues that are cause for concern. For instance, fraudsters and hackers become more sophisticated every day and seem to be one step ahead of security gurus. Most users, they fear, do not take into consideration the relative ease with which any form of electronic message can be redistributed in an uncontrolled manner. Alas, some bankers may communicate with customers without full knowledge about regulatory compliance issues.

For example, a business development officer, branch manager or commercial lender, each of whom is tasked to achieve aggressive sales goals, might create a personal LinkedIn account for the purpose of prospecting for new business and innocently promote rates and other features without including the required disclosure language.

All fears about blogging can be put to rest.

All that needs to be done is to present to management how any perceived risks should be addressed. Susquehanna Bank and Arvest do an excellent job of this by posting guidelines directly on their blog sites. Additionally, every bank marketing and compliance officer should work together to create a written policy that answers all the “fear” questions to management’s satisfaction. Marketers who are on top of the compliance issues that arise in print, broadcast and website advertising can easily manage blog content effectively and to the advantage of their organization.

These days, a company is in the minority of it doesn’t blog. People make buying decisions by using the Internet to learn about the products and services that best meet their needs. Banks who are holding out on blogging are missing an important tool to share their brand with prospective and existing customers.

Dana Dobson is an award-winning freelance copywriter who specializes in writing for banks and financial institutions. A former bank marketing executive, Dana has written a white paper entitled, “Banks & Blogging: Why they should, why they don’t, and how to go about it.” For more information, visit

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