Bank of America is Your Sweet But Senile Grandmother on Twitter

momDigiday writer Saya Weissman lists Bank of America in the top-5 brand fails on Twitter, and I just had my own amusing experience with the bank. Today’s lesson for brands is simple: while it can’t hurt to integrate your customer service help desk with your social media efforts, you probably shouldn’t have customer service reps manning the Twitter voice.

I’d characterize Bank of America’s Twitter voice as “well intentioned but lacking mental clarity.” But we can’t judge or condemn the bank! It’s kinda like an aging grandmother who may not be completely lucid, but she certainly means no harm.

Weissman’s gave BOA a “fail” because the bank provided a human but robotic response (“we’d be happy to review your account“) to tweets by activist Mark Hamilton (@darthmarkh). Hamilton, of course, wasn’t exactly keen to discuss an account. He had been tweeting about being chased away from a Bank of America by cops… it seems Hamilton had been drawing an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk.

My recent experience with the bank was almost as strange. Yesterday I saw that Bank of America television commercial (“Flowers“) featuring a dude bringing his gal a bouquet of flowers. Inexplicably the dude decides just one flower will do, so he leaves the rest in his cab.

My reaction to the ad wasn’t quite “I need to open a Bank of America account.” I was more thinking “I wonder what the next cab passenger thought when he found a bouquet of flowers in an otherwise empty cab?” So I tweeted: “I found the rest of the dude’s flowers in a cab. Can I keep them?” I didn’t expect a response, and frankly I was pleased to have one.

Naturally, my Tweet made absolutely no sense to anyone but me. That’s quite often my MO on Twitter. So we can’t blame Bank of America for asking for account details for clarity, right (“I’m not sure I understand the question… please send me a DM with more detail.” It’s just an odd response that sounds more SIRI than human. The logic appears to be: “when in doubt, a comment about our bank is probably an inquiry to discuss an account.” Hey that’s cool, though. The next time I have a problem with my account… I’ll just tweet something like: “increase my credit by $5K.”

Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother
Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother




Debtors Revolt (Ann vs. Bank of America)

Ann is a 46-year-old mother and mental-health professional and self described “conservative liberal, or liberal conservative, closet science nerd, shoe-addict, and beauty product-junkie.” She says she’s met her  credit card balance limits and paid routinely, but that didn’t stop Bank of America from jacking up her interest rate to a whooping 30%.

So she took her story to YouTube in a video titled “Debtors Revolt Begins Now,” and it’s the highest-rated video of the week in YouTube’s “non-profit, activism” category. 140,000 people have watched her story, and the video received more than 1,700 positive & controversial comments, and was rated nearly 2,000 times (averaging a 4.73 out of 5).  In a follow-up September 11 video, she reacts to the viral response to her video, crediting her viewers and God.

She’s calling it civil disobedience, and many of her video replies indicate people are joining her cause. Dozens of blogs are linking to her video:

Dozens of websites & blogs link to the "Debtors Revolt"
Dozens of websites & blogs link to the "Debtors Revolt"
  • The Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger said “She’s spot-on, in my opinion, and if you, through no fault of your own (you’re NOT a deadbeat) have had this happen to you, then I fully support doing exactly what she is – tell ’em to get stuffed. Do realize that civil disobedience has consequences, but it also brings a huge breath of fresh air into your life!”
  • Of course comments vary, including this one posted an hour ago: “Debtors revolt? Are you f’ing kidding me? Is this a parody? You invoke the founding fathers’ ideals and in the same breath bitch about credit usage? Seriously? Don’t want high interest rates? DON’T F’ING USE CREDIT. You don’t have a fundamental right to low interest rates or easy access to credit. You made your bed; lie in it. Enjoy the shitty credit” (by dontfrostthepie).”
  • The majority of the comments are supportive, like this one thevickithomas“Congratulations for taking a stand on the outrageous fees charged by bank run credit card companies. I share the same feelings about my closed Chase card. I join with you and others who are willing to stand up to the inept bank ceo leaders that have not be held accountable for their failed actions. One day they will regret how they have treated customers — when they suddenly realize they need us.”

My two cents? A good reminder that one poorly treated customer can rock a corporation, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that banking has replaced  pharmaceuticals for most-despised among Americans. I never much cared for banks.