Poor Dan. He wasn’t complicit in rigging Libor.

July 11, 2012

The commotion surrounding social media mishaps is the equivalent to watching gripping reality TV drama unfolding live on screen. There have been some notable social media ‘fails’ to hit the headlines, from McDonalds & Dr Pepper to last week’s Femfresh. This week, Barclay’s social media shambles couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The disgraced former Barclays Bank CEO and chairman, Bob and Marcus, who were forced to step down in recent days amid accusations of Libor-rigging are well-known due to their recent media spotlight. But do you know who Dan is? He’s a character whom the bank introduced last week to Barclay’s Facebook fan base in the UK just before the all-consuming scandal went public. Dan was supposed to convey some personal finance tips in these trying times. Despite the reactive nature of social media you would have thought the message would have got out in time to press pause on the campaign, but alas, you can guess what happened next. Cue the Bollinger banter.

Dan’s introduction couldn’t have been better timed by Barclays, on June 26 as the bank was being nailed for nearly a half-billion fine for fiddling with Libor numbers, an admission that’s led to a series of high-level resignations, a Parliamentary hearing, a bombing share price and a torrid of abuse by the public.

So who is Dan?
“Dan’s a HR manager and spends £5 a day on lunch. That’s about £100 a month; enough to buy a ticket to the vintage car festival he really wants to go to in August. Bringing food from home for a couple of months would mean a more memorable end to the summer. So come on Dan, get making those sandwiches and book those festival tickets.”

The Facebook ‘fans’ (if you can call them that) and the significant increase in followers since the campaign went live have been particularly vicious, once again showing off British wit and exquisite timing. As one fan replies, “Bob’s a CEO and spends £5,000 a day on Bollinger. That’s about £155,000 a month; enough to buy a classic Ferrari at the vintage car festival he really wants to go to in August. Rigging LIBOR for a couple of months would mean a more memorable end to the summer.”

Barclay’s originally promised it would bring us updates of Dan throughout the week, but no doubt seeing the public response, it mercifully cut it short (finally!). What will come of Dan, well it’s hard to say. Likely Dan, if he’s even a real person (if he’s a fictitious creation of the bank that would be yet another problem — that’s a legal no-no, by EU rules), will be retired along with senior management and those 14 rogue traders busted for Libor-rigging. Poor Dan. Wonder if he will manage to score those festival tickets in the end? If not, I hope he was lucky enough to get free ones to Hackney Weekend.

After a long and fairly overdue social silence, Barclays eventually took to its UK Facebook page with a big apology over the Libor issues (although those went unchecked for over four years, so maybe this apology was pretty timely rather than tardy). Admittedly, it was a brave move from Barclays and one that in a situation like this, is the only option for social – be honest, own up and say sorry. Here’s what they had to say:

Receiving 76 likes and over 50 comments, some of which I have to admit were actually positive, Barclay’s has with this move managed to project its viewpoint on the scandal in the most influential online discussion forum, and although it will be a long time before the storm blows over, this first move will put them in good stead to claiming control of the social platform to be used for future, hopefully more successful social activity.

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