Most CUs don't grasp social media; Gene at Tinfoiling does.

A comment thread on another blog has made me realize that most credit unions don’t get social media. By now they’ve all at least heard of “blogs,” but few understand that social media can make business sense. I’ll get to the comment thread in question later in this post, but first I want to start with a story about one credit union exec who does see the value in social media. His CU was even a sponsor of Northern Voice 2007!

Gene Blishen writes the Tinfoiling blog. He’s the general manager of Mount Lehman Credit Union, which he describes as “a small credit union just outside of Vancouver B.C. We live among the giants (Vancity, Coast Capital, Envision, Prospera). We are small but nimble and have a purposeful strategy – Serve the member.” (BTW, I love their brand.)

On a recent post, he writes (emphasis and formatting added):

Someone once told me that small credit unions are a conscience for larger credit unions. We have this symbiotic relationship. As organizations grow larger it is apparent that their social conscience diminishes, not out of choice but because their size creates difficulties if not impossibilities on trying to maintain a focused and understood social conscience. That coupled with the new realization that marketing/PR is not appreciated when it is shoved in your face without any regard to who you are or what you think.

It’s like most advertising is in ‘black and white’, absolute, with the agenda to BUY. We have changed. Blogs and the internet have begun a very different dialogue between the buyer and the seller – there should be an eBay rating for all companies.

This difference produces marketing/PR that is in colour with every hue available. You have to now prove what you state and you don’t get a second chance. You could call it coloured no chance marketing. Because if you are wrong, or if an employee takes a stance that is at odds with what you are trying to idealize and that party that you offended understands blogging then watch out. From their small network someone has started pulling the thread and everything your business has done begins to unravel.

Does it mean much? Absolutely.

It is the lethal injection to the word of mouth buzz that is critical. It is permanent. What is posted on the internet is like something written on stone tablets. Pretty tough to erase and there for the world to see for a long time.

Brilliant. I wish the anonymous cowards commenters on this creditunions.com thread would see Gene’s post.

Note: I avoided getting involved in that conversation until someone tried to rip Verity for (a) blogging and (b) hiring Trabian. If you want to see what my writing looks like when I’m irate (and it takes a lot), comments # 17, 18, and 19 give a glimpse.

For the record, this isn’t at all against Callahan & Associates, it’s against the anonymous commenters. I love how Callahan is embracing social media with Scott’s work on his two blogs and I applaud yesterday’s launch of the CUSP blog. They understand social media.

But most financial institutions still don’t. Thank goodness for the ones who do, for the folks in that thread on the pro-social media side – the ones who are leading the charge.

P.S. I’m considering a move to Canada. Ok, just kidding – our landlord absolutely gets social media – but I do need to go visit Vancity, Social Signal, Currency Marketing, Gene C., Gene B., Darren, and Colin all on an extended road trip up north.

Comments

We’re always happy to recommend nice neighbourhoods, good schools, and a terrific real estate agent. :)

But even if it’s only for a visit, we’d love to see you!


Trey,

I think you were very kind on the creditunions.com thread. Those anonymous posts are so imperious.

[ I just looked that word up and it so fits ]

That should be today’s word. Let’s all use it in a sentence.


Rob -

We all love Canada - but you can’t have Trey permanently under any circumstances! :)

Have a nice weekend! Jeff


I thought those comments were really interesting. There must be something threatening about social media to have folks so vehemently insisting on justification.

But they are right about one thing, there are a lot of people / companies out there trying to make a buck off blogging (we get calls all the time from people wanting to help us increase our SEO or whatever the popular phrases are right now).

But the thing about Trabian is you have proven over the years that you understand credit unions and are an informed, caring vendor (sorry, business partner). How did you prove it? Through the history of your blog.

On a tangent…. Why is it that the staff in accounting never have to justify their existence? I’ve never seen an ROI on the numerous spreadsheets they crank out…. Hmmm..

OK, I’m with Chuck, time to start the weekend.

Cheers.


I agree with Shari - I think there was something threatening about either the article or the webcast that has someone in CU land worried that they are missing “the next big thing.” And - instead of saying to themselves “Self, I’m not sure where I stand on blogs yet - why don’t I watch the trends and keep my eyes on what’s happening” - they decide they need to try to defend why their CU isn’t involved yet.

Understandable I guess - but why not just say “I don’t see the ROI yet - so until then, our CU us going to sit this one out…”

It did make for an interesting thread though!


I agree with Shari - I think there was something threatening about either the article or the webcast that has someone in CU land worried that they are missing “the next big thing.” And - instead of saying to themselves “Self, I’m not sure where I stand on blogs yet - why don’t I watch the trends and keep my eyes on what’s happening” - they decide they need to try to defend why their CU isn’t involved yet.

Understandable I guess - but why not just say “I don’t see the ROI yet - so until then, our CU us going to sit this one out…”

It did make for an interesting thread though!


Just a few words from a country (never mind a sector) that doesn’t get blogging yet … its the UK.

Credit Union Direct are in Study Group mode. So the blog on the site is a way of trying to stimulate debate and interest in what we are doing. Feel free to chip in, add us to blog rolls etc etc. I don’t know of any other UK CU blog.

The UK are a wee bit reserved in publicly stating views so Credit Union Direct blog comments are few and far between - or it might be that the blog is boring..I don’t know, your own polite views are welcome.

Nonetheless I find the Credit Union Direct blog helpful in ensuring that the study group is seen as alive and that we are trying to get a CU going using all this Web 2 stuff.

More importantly it is a fantastic way to catch thoughts and issues that in the end will become the underlying philosophy of the business and I like that idea a lot.

Online discussion (public or private) is never easy and it is very easy to upset someone inadvertently. But the alternative to discussion is much worse……..silence.

(great thread)

alex


On the subject of great thread, an email from CUNA’s League Communicator Listserve rolled through my Inbox today. It reads:

The Hilton Hotel Corporation has started a Web site called: behospitable.com where you can submit your stories of good deeds and “get on the map.” The ad is in Time Magazine this week and says “share any good deed you see.” You can submit something you did or something you witnessed. It may be a good place to put your credit union or employees’ good deed stories.

And my response:

To me it sounds like the type of website CUNA ought to be doing specifically for credit unions … how about ownyourcu.com or .org … both domains appear to be available.

How cool would that be … a place where credit union members all over the country could tell their OWN member service stories. Small cards posted at every MSR window in every branch, ATM and drive-up window in the country … “Love your credit union? Tell us why at ownyourcu.com”

Or am I just dreaming?

I wonder if any of my fellow League Communicators will respond. CUNA probably isn’t likely to start a social media site like that (not sure if it should be a blog or not) but somebody should. Trey?

John


John, a company we know is working on a social media site with a very similar idea, but I hesitate to make that announcement for them just yet (it’s not Trabian, I promise).

When that company launches their site, we’ll most certainly let everyone know here.


John -

As a fellow League Communicator, I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly! There are so many great stories out there waiting to be shared with the world.

Fantastic idea!