To take on their toughest critics, big banks are playing as visitors on social media's turf. Can they keep up, much less win?
By Nin-Hai Tseng, contributor
For this semi-retired mortgage professional turned blogger, running Goldmansachs666.com isn't just a hobby, it's a full-time job. "To demonstrate how destructive [Goldman Sachs is] to our lives and the hopes and dreams of our children," is part of the motto/disclaimer splashed across the front of the site. "What's going on is wrong and we need to correct what's wrong and get to the truth," said Rubinoff by telephone from his Florida home.
The global financial crisis has spawned dozens of Rubinoffs who have unleashed their frustrations onto the Web. To name a few, there's Banks are Evil and Bloggers Against Chase Bank. And Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington urged Americans to boldly move their money away from big banks and into community institutions in her Move Your Money campaign (which has drawn 34,842 Facebook fans as of Friday morning). Then there is ZeroHedge, the big daddy of anti-banker sentiment, which often reports information from dissident bankers working inside the system itself.
These bloggers might sound like just another batch of disgruntled Wall Street critics. But corporations are paying attention to them. They're watching their YouTube videos, reading their posts and tracking their Tweets, because they can't afford not to. It's not just the content of their messages that matter but their presence on the Internet. By talking about banks negatively online, the bloggers essentially become the online presence of those banks. And that's something no industry, let alone one that depends on the trust of its customers, can long abide.
The question is, can the financial industry tweet or blog its way out of a bad rep?
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