The Irish Bank Robber and Facebook

When the renowned Irish American bank robber, Willie Sutton was arrested having been caught after one of his many bank heists he famously gave the following response to journalists who asked him why he kept robbing banks, “Because, that’s where the money was!”

Willie Sutton, The Famous Bank Robber

Willie Sutton, also known as “Slick Willie” and “Willie the Actor” (he was a master of disguises) was born in Brooklyn in 1901 and lived till 1980. He managed to rob 100 banks in his 79 year career, spending much of this in prison after many captures. Toward the end of his life he ended up fronting an advertising campaign for a bank who were introducing card ID’s with the person’s picture on it.

Besides being a notorious bank robber his quote earned him everlasting fame as his surname is now often quoted to refer to any situation where something is clearly “obvious”. In medical circles in particular his name comes up as “Suttons Law” to describe a situation where a diagnosis is exactly that and accountants even use it when talking about Activity Based Costing, “The Willie Sutton Rule”!

In the business of Marketing & PR we often get resistance when we recommend to clients that they should be engaging pro-actively with users on Facebook. We get the arguments about not liking computers, not having enough time, that all users are youngsters and generally not knowing how to use Facebook and not seeing the relevance to them.

Worldwide users have reached 550 Million with the figure in Ireland just over 1.4 million. Of these over 700,000 are over the age of 30. Many of these are your customers!

On average people are using Facebook about 25 minutes per day. Facebook has individual users as well as many businesses who have their own “business pages” and are interacting and influencing Facebook users on a daily basis. Starbucks, the famous American chain of coffee stores have over 12 million people signed up as fans.

The next time we talk about the relevance of Facebook with a client we might just quote the famous bank robber, Willie .. after all it’s very obvious!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

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21 Responses to “The Irish Bank Robber and Facebook”

  1. Tweets that mention The Irish Bank Robber and Facebook « Greg Canty Fuzion Blog -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GniewomirŚwiechowski, Alltop Facebook. Alltop Facebook said: The Irish Bank Robber and Facebook […]

  2. Ruth Egan Says:

    Hi Greg! A great post as usual and a very valid point. I come up against the same excuses far too often but seeing a shift recently which is brilliant. Can’t wait to see all my favourite businesses on Facebook in the future.

  3. Mik McManus Says:

    Hi Greg, a great post 😉
    I think that I shall quote Willy Sutton heheh.
    Good article……and yes things are changing dramatically ….social networking is now becoming acceptable to all. Cheap, easy and fun too! lolol

  4. Paul O'Mahony (Cork) Says:

    Hi Greg,

    You’re making a strong point about Irish businesses & Facebook. Ruth sees a recent shift – interesting.

    I wonder what would persuade more Irish businesses to grow their reputation via Facebook? Is it to be slow incremental change? How could we contribute to a big change?

    It’s easy enough to use the traditional media – people have a feel for that. But I wonder which Irish company is gaining a lot from their Facebook work?

    You make me look for a source of good examples…

    Any companies you’d like to nominate? (I’m so much more in touch with the Twitter use.)

  5. Greg Canty Says:

    I’m amazed how companies can still ignore it even if it is so “Willie Sutton Obvious” – I set up a business page for The International Make Up Academy a few weeks ago – she is doing really well with a small budget – I can see it being her “core” activity – a few years ago she would have needed a significant advertising budget.

    Locally check Tom Murphy menswear with nearly 6,000 followers – for an international example, Starbucks – 5 million fans this time last year, now over 12 Million !

    Thanks as always Paul

  6. Evan (Kerry) Says:

    Hi Greg

    Nice post

    I have also noticed that more businesses are developing their presence on Facebook

    However, I find that many businesses – particularly in the hospitality sector – end up viewing Facebook as an extension of their email blasts and fall into the routine of updating followers with details of their offers. Many haven’t grasped that in a facebook environment the opportunity is to build and enhance your brand by sharing, amusing, enlightening, entertaining and inspiring your followers by posting useful and engaging updates that they will enjoy or find useful. Once a brand does this they have a better chance of increasing share of mind.

    The danger is that a brand can become perceived as boring, repetitive and spammy if they manage their facebook page poorly and it can become counterproductive.

    So, to develop your analogy, just because that’s where the people are doesn’t mean you should rockup without a good Slick Willie strategy.


    Hope all is well in Cork.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Spot on Evan – just because you’ve been invited to the party doesn’t mean you can start selling Life Assurance policies!!

      Thanks for reading.


  7. Julie Silfverberg Says:

    Hi Greg et al,

    I was just thinking about people using traditional media as Paul says & it being easy. But is that because they can pass it off to someone else like a PR company – Fuzion spring to mind – and then don’t really need to take much responsibility for it.

    Whereas with social media it is the conversation and requires commitment to taking action and so also means taking responsibility for the results. Or maybe this is just a coaching perspective:)

    Keep them coming Greg.

  8. Greg Canty Says:

    thanks for posting Julie.


  9. Ruth Egan Says:

    Just following on from Paul’s comment – I had recently been having a good look at local/national business pages on Facebook. There are plently examples out there for US and international pages but I wanted to see how Irish brands are doing it. I was really shocked and disappointed though – I found very few who were doing it right and most weren’t on Facebook at all.

    I’ve started putting together a list and will probably do something related on our own blog at some stage, so any good or bad examples you have come across would be great!

    Again a great post Greg and a great topic to get people thinking!

  10. nicky Says:

    I spend a lot of time with boutique owners and while some of them are actively engaged with Facebook and have embraced it wholeheartedly there are many others who don’t even use email never mind Facebook! It’s so glaringly obvious but of course posting on these sites is going precisely nowhere since were all preaching to the already converted.
    Greg’s articles in Futura magazine were hugely important and we need more of that to get the message across.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Hi Nicky – thanks for reading and for posting.

      I met a really big and really good operator in the fashion game yesterday – no website, no facebook, hotmail email addresses!!

      Guess what story I told them?



  11. The Problem with the hole « Greg Canty Fuzion Blog Says:

    […] it’s being very simplistic but it does seem very obvious – I wonder what our old friend Willie Sutton would say about […]

  12. Srdan K Says:

    Hi Greg,

    I was always behind the social media being used properly to market your business and be able to connect with the people.
    Had a hard time convincing my employer, not only to do the facebook page, but everything else that comes with it – linkedin, twitter, etc..On the end we started with linkedin and twitter, but the owner was still against the facebook, saying “its for the young-ones”. I tried to show the owner all the stats about the social media, and the importance of it, but its very hard to change someones mind.
    As I always say: “If you want to be seen, get connected”…

    Any way, thank you for the stats and a great blog..
    Keep up with a great job..

    Srdan K

  13. Srdan K Says:

    Hi Greg..

    Hopefully he will listen one day..;)
    Its a shame, when they (owners), don’t take you seriously because you are just a young fella doing your job, and it always comes that old quote “he is young, what he knows”..
    It is a shame, when they don’t take your advice’s and you are trying your best to help the company to grow and expand.
    I think, that all people in the organisation and their comments should be look upon, and considered seriously, without the mater if they are the youngest or the oldest person or employee in the business. If the comment and idea are good, then it should be checked, visualized and hopefully realized.
    I don’t want you, Greg, or any of your readers to take my comment now as a complain or something like that, it is just a simple observation that i picked up in few different companies where I worked.
    All of the business in Ireland should turn to progress and be up-to-date with their IT sector and good marketing, if they want to succeed and stay alive in today’s economy.
    Best regards,
    Srdan K

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Hi Srdan – they should be lucky to have someone who wants to give their opinion and is taking such an interest in their business. Keep pushing those ideas !!

  14. Gerard Waldron Says:

    Have been using Willie’s quotation for years as Sutton’s Principle. Never knew he was Irish!

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