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Morgan Stanley takes to social media in baby steps

morgan-stanley logoAlexandra Scaggs (@alexandrascaggs) of Dow Jones reported Friday that Morgan Stanley has started putting its economists on Twitter to provide real-time reviews.

David Greenlaw, the bank’s chief U.S. fixed-income economist, used the social-media platform to express his views on Friday’s U.S. jobs report in real time. In a string of tweets starting five minutes after the release, he said the disappointing number likely isn’t weak enough to trigger a third round of bond buying from the Federal Reserve. Still, he said the recent weakness makes it “clearly more than a weather payback,” referring to job losses tied to a hot summer after job gains tied to a warm winter. He also pointed out a few bright spots: increases in temporary employment, hours worked and earnings per hour.

His analysis came in 83 words across four tweets over 11 minutes.

Don’t call the tweets recommendations though.

If a bank makes a recommendation, it is required to provide legal disclosures. The recent Morgan Stanley tweets haven’t included such advice, leaving the economists off the regulatory hook.

Though Morgan Stanley is using Twitter, they are not leveraging the real power of Twitter — that is developing relationships of trust based on real connections. You see David Greenlaw, the bank’s chief U.S. fixed-income economist, isn’t actually using Twitter. Morgan Stanley’s PR/Communication arm uses Twitter for him. Morgan Stanley Social Media Twitter It’s hard to know if Greenlaw, apparently widely respected within financial circles and by traditional media, even knows what social media or Twitter is.

That’s a shame for both he and Morgan Stanley. Social media, used personally, not by a company, enables one to become a more trusted source for information and commentary. Right or wrong, social media has empowered the individual at the expense of corporate brands. For corporate brands such as Morgan Stanley, they need to use social media not by Morgan Stanley’s rules but by the rules that have evolved organically.

The take for lawyers and law firms is two fold. Get on board in your use of Twitter and social media. When you have heavily regulated industries (much more so than legal) feeling the need to use social media to connect with the media and its customers, it’s not a reasonable to say, “We’ll pass,” “We don’t get it,” or “It’s too hard to get our lawyers on board.”

Secondly, you ‘can’ use Twitter in your firm’s name. But if your lawyers are going to build real connections with people and establish trust as a reliable source for information and insight, your lawyers need to use Twitter personally.

PS – As transparent as Morgan Stanley wanted to be with their use of Twitter, a bank represent told Scaggs that the ‘tweeting economists’ were unavailable for comment.