Why I Use Twitter: -or- Social Media in the Payments Industry

I spend a fair amount of time interacting with people in the payments industry.  Frequently, after a brief discussion of what the job title “evangelist” really means, there comes the question:

“So, what do you think of social media?”

I reckon it is worth memorializing the resultant conversation in written form for future usage.  NOTE:  I recognize that Twitter is not the only social media outlet and I spend time with multiple tools…However, Twitter is representative of the general themes that I emphasize when discussing social media interaction.

Perhaps I should begin with a brief description of what I mean by “payments industry”.  It seems that there is, often, a relatively narrow scope of companies that people recognize when that particular term is bandied about.  In particular, it seems folk think exclusively of card associations (Visa, MasterCard, etc) and alternative payment modalities. (PayPal, Google Checkout).  However, there is a vast range of people who are not only key to the payments workflow but are interested in interacting regarding payment trends.  These include (but are not limited to) analysts, sales organizations, security experts, consultants, acquirers, processors, other payment service providers, software companies…for the sake of brevity I’ll pause.  The point is simple, payments as an industry requires, and relies, on the interaction of multiple companies and individuals.  It isn’t just the folk whose logo appears on the plastic in your wallet.

So, with that said (or perhaps written)…what do I think of social media? 

Quite simply, it is hugely important in my world.  And should be treated with equal import by most of the organizations listed above. 

Let me dispel any confusion…social media is not, and should not, be treated solely as a lead generation engine.  I have interacted with too many organizations who view any online interaction as a method of capturing leads.  This is a rather short-sighted approach and, likely, doomed to failure.

Any value captured by social media is less about influencing a community and more about participating in a discussion…and ultimately, being influenced by a community. 

Why do I use Twitter?

I learn.  I track trends.  I discover interesting trends.  I have the opportunity to discuss what people find important.

For example, I follow a few banking analysts.  There is no better way to hear what they find important…and to have a thoughtful conversation regarding a topic…than to participate.

Or, as another example, Visa recently changed their definition of Service Provider levels as it applies to PCI Compliance.  I didn’t happen upon a posted news item (although I’m sure they were there).  I didn’t get a copy of a press release (although I’m fairly sure it was sent).  However, I found the information on twitter in a lengthy discussion of PCI compliance on twitter.

What do I think of social media?

It matters.  It has changed the way in which I learn.  Provided you listen and don’t just speak.  Social media is not, and cannot be treated as, push marketing. 

Stop just talking.  Start participating.

What’s your perspective? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Critiques? The comment form is below. . .

December 12, 2008

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