Four Killer Problems for Credit Unions in Social Media
Stick with me here, because I am going to say something that may shock the entire credit union industry to its core. Here it goes: “The credit union industry is about six years behind when it comes to using social media.” There. Whew!
I feel better. Now we can move forward.
I know I’m painting with a very wide and general brush by making that statement, but it’s true. Originally I came from a journalism and public relations background. I’ve created social media campaigns for large, regulated corporations, small businesses and enormous international organizations.
All of these groups went through the same social media growing pains I’m witnessing today in our industry. And that’s okay.
Over the course of the past seven months, I’ve buried myself in piles of research about how credit unions, credit union associations/leagues, and the credit union trade press use or don’t use social media. The short version of my findings? The credit union industry likes to talk to itself. Again, the industry is in its social media infancy. Now it’s time to take our first steps into the awkward pre-teen years and start taking some risks. But if we are to make it to full and glorious social media adulthood, there are some things we all must stop doing immediately.
Many of you have set up Facebook pages and Twitter feeds because you thought, “It seemed like we should do something.” Well, have you noticed that your credit union Facebook page has peaked? Or your Twitter account isn’t attracting any new followers (except spammers)? Or is your Pinterest page DOA? And what the heck is Google+?
Don’t be scared of social media. It’s social. It’s experimental. It’s a safe place to be as long as you do some proper planning and have a solid strategy for using it. Creating a successful social media campaign and platform is a lot of work and often your vision doesn’t pan out because of a few silly mistakes. These are the four most common missteps that can kill your social media site.
Problem 1: Incomplete Profiles
Anytime you start a social media project, the absolute number-one item to do is fill out your profile as completely as possible. Leaving a profile blank or partially filled out will result in you and your credit union not properly showing up in searches. What does this mean? People cannot find you.
Also, make sure you’re using the correct keywords in your profile (you can do some Google Analytics to help with that). Check all of the URLs/links in your profile to make sure they’re not broken. Your profile is the key to everything. Once it is set up properly, things should start falling into place.
Here’s a good way to be able to tell if your profile is good-to-go: Hop on your computer at home on a different web browser than you use at work (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari). Go to Google or Bing’s search engine and type in your credit union/organization name and the social media platform. For example, I’d type “CUNA Mutual Group, Google+” and see what comes up. If your credit union shows up at or near the top, then that’s a good sign. If it doesn’t, it’s time to go back into your profile and tinker around.
Problem 2: Accounts that Are Locked
This one infuriates me. What makes you think that requiring approval for connections is anywhere near a good idea? You are on social media to connect to people, not lock them out! Would you deal with a company that made you jump though hoops like that? I only follow one locked account (and that’s for work, and she’s very nice). And believe me, there is no bigger turn-off for potential new followers than to see a locked account. If you’re locking your account, do everyone a favor and delete it. It’s pointless.
Problem 3: Updates about Nothing
Your core message is about the “credit union industry” and promoting the good things that are happening, but most of your posts and updates are about you and your sock puppet collection. Adding personality to your stream is a good thing, but too much personality and odd posts can dilute your purpose of being there—and it confuses your audience. For instance, I tweet roughly 30 times each day on @CUDiscovery. And of those, I include about five off-topic (fun) and personality-infused tweets. The same goes for Google+: Of the five or six posts each day, one is a little off-topic and fun. Show your personality, but don’t let it overpower your true message and goals.
Problem 4: The Audience Just Isn’t There
Hopefully this won’t happen to you. But, if you’ve done the items listed above and your traffic numbers are still dead and the conversations have stopped, you may want to come up with an exit strategy and pull the plug. What this really means is that your audience isn’t where you thought it was, and it’s time to move on. Researching the audience doesn’t happen enough, and it is so important to get this part right. Once your find your audience, take care of them and appreciate what they bring to your business.
Bonus: Tools for Finding Your Audience
Here are a couple of nice tools you can easily use to help find your audience in the enormous social media world. The first tool is free-ish, and the other is not. I hope they help!
I think the credit union industry does a great job sharing the work we’re doing for the cause. The problem is, we tend to share that information with each other. It’s time to turn around from this internal/industry cheerleading and face the greater public at large with our powerful messages. They are ready to hear it. So go out there and be bold! Be big, and be proud of what you do! There is an audience out there waiting for your words and your help.Michael Ogden is media relations manager of new media at CUNA Mutual Group. Reprinted with permission from Connection, the publication of the Credit Union Association of New York (www.cuany.org).
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