Does Your Credit Union Have a Social Media Policy?

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 20 April, 2010
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Social Media PoliciesThere has been much written about what to do if a member starts bad-mouthing your credit union in cyberspace (whether it be on a blog, Twitter, Yelp, etc).

But what about employees? Last year, a receptionist at a credit union wrote a lengthy post on her blog about her work “pet peeves.” She named names, including her credit union, so it was viewable by anyone with access to Google. Thankfully, after it was found online, a concerned third-party contacted her and she took it down (read about the whole incident here).

Credit unions should have guidelines in place to ensure that employees don’t also inadvertently harm their brand online. For example, what do you do if a staff member posts negative comments about work on their personal twitter account or blog? You’ll want to be prepared. You’ll need a social media policy.

Let’s be clear because I’ve heard the term used a few different ways. A social media policy is not what websites your employees can and can’t visit at work (that’s most likely covered in your “employee internet usage guidelines” or similar policy) or what and when your marketing department is posting to your credit union’s Facebook page (likely in your social media strategy or marketing plan). Instead, it includes guidelines that clearly show appropriate employee use and behavior with social media.

So what should you include in the policy? A new research/white paper, “Social Media Guidelines & Policies,” from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council and CUNA HR/TD Council (where I work) includes detailed information on the necessity of having a credit union social media policy and what it should include.

Jim Jerving—the paper’s author—looked at existing credit union social media policies and broke them down into major sections. Here is a high-level overview of sections from a very comprehensive policy:

  1. Introduction & Purpose – Who is the policy written for? Why?
  2. Core Values - Some credit unions may want to emphasize that their values and mission as an organization should be carried over online.
  3. Accountability – You are responsible for what you write.
  4. Inappropriate Use – What’s acceptable behavior?
  5. Financial Disclosure – If you mention a product online, advertising disclosure regulations must be met.
  6. Identification as Employee Online – If you do identify yourself as a CU employee online anywhere, how would the CU want you to be presented?
  7. Copyrights – Respect copyright laws, attributions, etc.
  8. Confidentiality – Don’t post any sensitive, confidential, proprietary, or financial information.
  9. Defense against Personal Attacks – If your credit union has a blog for example, a disclaimer that tell visitors to basically be nice to each other.
  10. All Rights Reserved & Hold Harmless – You need to state your legal rights as the owner of your CU’s blog while saying that those who comment in your blog are responsible for their comments.
  11. Language & Behavior – Another disclaimer on your CU’s social media site that tells visitors to keep it clean.
  12. Spam – Another disclaimer that tells your site visitors to not leave spam in the comments, etc.
  13. Security – Reminds employees to follow IT security rules, etc.
  14. Social Media Rapid Response – Who responds to positive & negative posts about the CU? How?

Or maybe you want to keep it short. Here is a sampling of policy wording from the HR Specialist:

  • Don’t let personal use of Twitter or other social networking sites interfere with work.
  • Employees must get company approval to use Twitter to conduct business. (Note: This isn’t far-fetched. Many organizations have successfully incorporated Twitter into their marketing strategies.)
  • Any use of the organization’s name, trademarks, logos or other intellectual property must be approved.
  • If employees make personal comments about any aspect of the organization’s business, their profiles must carry a disclaimer that the views expressed are their own, and not the organization’s.
  • Tweets may not disclose confidential or proprietary information.
  • Employees should use common sense about what they post.

Regardless of the length, it’s important to not just post your new guidelines on the intranet and be done with them. Revisit them from time to time with staff, have a workshop to talk about social media (and your policies), and always ensure they are mostly positive (instead of “don’t do this, don’t do that…”).

Now if only devising your credit union’s social media marketing strategy was this easy!

More resources:

11 Responses to “Does Your Credit Union Have a Social Media Policy?”

  1. Chris Pesola

    Great article Chris! And congrats on the launching of CUNAverse!
    Good list of resources available to any company – Credit Union or otherwise – it’s the world we live in and ignoring it or hoping that employees use (not-so) common sense is a recipe for disaster.

  2. Thanks Chris! And yes, CUs (or any other company really…) can’t ignore it. How many CU employees have a Facebook page at the very least? I would guess the majority and it usually lists where they work.

    Your employees are brand ambassadors for your credit union – make sure they are evangelists rather than detractors!

  3. Cheryl Hart

    Thanks Chris, this is a great article for anyone who is thinking about social networking. We have a comprehensive Social Networking Policy. We have both Facebook and Twitter pages, but we use them strictly for advertising our cu, and advertising special promotions, and new branches, etc. Everything that we as a cu tweets, or put up on Facebook, must go through me (the Compliance Officer) and signed off of by the CEO. We accept “friends” and “followers” but no one has the ability to post to our pages. As far as the rest of us (the employees) there are no restrictions personally and we are allowed to be friends with each other, but our policy on social networking warns that we can be monitored, and anything said against the cu or fellow employees could be reviewed and if seen as compromising, it could be investigated and necessary disciplinary steps taken if warranted. It is a good policy and it works for us.

  4. Thanks Cheryl for commenting and thanks for sharing what you guys do.

    You also bring up a very good point – it works for YOUR CU. Every work culture and environment is different and therefore every CU social media policy will be different!

  5. Yes, we have a Social Networking Policy. Our Marketing Department has also developed a Social Media Plan. We’ve had a Twitter account for about a year, and will launch our Facebook page by the end of the week.

    Our approach is a little different than Cheryl’s. We decided early on to use social media for more than just advertising. We use it to reach consumers, drive awareness, build better products, respond to crisis, AND to allow our organization to “be human” in a way that only social media allows. We believe that social media isn’t “social” if all you’re doing is avertising. No one will follow you or listen to what you have to say if you’re not engaging and interesting.

    When coming up with content for Twitter and Facebook, the question you must always stop and ask yourself is this, “Would I want to follow my company?” If your answer is no, then you’ve got some work to do.

    Best of luck, everyone! And…kudos on the launch of CUNAverse, Chris and company!

  6. Great points Deb. We are launching our social media plan this summer and our only focus will be community involvement, special events, and sharing news. While the usage policy is definitely important, I think a no selling policy is also important…that’s what your c.u.’s existing website is for!

  7. Thanks for the feedback and insights Deb & Karen!

    Also, I just came across this link which is another good resource:

    Social Media Employee Policy Examples from Over 100 Companies and Organizations -

  8. An addendum: This just in -

    For Employees, Facebook Counts as Free Speech:


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