Posts Tagged Social Media

CUNA Volunteer Network 101

Posted by on Wednesday, 2 March, 2011

This past week, CUNA launched a new membership opportunity for credit union board and committee members.  I was fortunate to be working with this network for the past months as it was developed, but CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) attendees had the opportunity to see the members-only website as its launch was celebrated on Sunday night in the exhibit hall.

Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager

I took some time to sit down with Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager, who worked with developing and launching the membership to get his perspective on its usefulness and value for credit unions.  Read on to find out what he had to say as he prepared for the launch last week.

What inspired the creation of the CUNA Volunteer Network?

The job of credit union directors is getting increasingly complex, more demanding of time and attention, as well as requiring more expertise. It’s incumbent upon CUNA to provide products and services  to help directors keep up  with demand and to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. We see that directors get a great value from networking opportunities at our schools and conferences.  However, networking is challenging for them to continue outside of a conference environment. We also hear from directors who are traveling to conferences less often for a variety of reasons and they want a way to stay connected. There are a surprising number of directors at conference events using cutting-edge technology to try to keep up with everything (iPhones, laptops, Blackberries, etc.).

This all suggests that volunteers are very busy and need a community of resources to help them excel in their roles as directors.  Therefore, the CUNA Volunteer Network was “born” out of the necessity for board and committee members to keep up with credit union issues and connected with each other.

Is the CUNA Volunteer Network fulfilling a need that CUNA identified or was it driven by members?

CUNA identified a number of trends that inspired the idea of a network of volunteers.  Through focus groups of credit union volunteers, we fine-tuned the specifics of how that network would be delivered and what it would include to provide value.  We make a concerted effort to pay close attention to our directors to ensure we give them the tools they need, so this membership is an example of just that.

Due to recent regulatory changes affecting board members, CUNA sees the need for volunteers to stay up-to-date and connected becoming even more important given the additional expectations being placed on board members.  Volunteers are looking for more online resources, so a membership-based website was very well received by our focus groups and we thank them for their input.

What have you found is the most attractive value to credit unions to want to join?

By far the access to leading industry training, tools and peer advice anytime and from anywhere has been a big interest point for credit unions.  Specifically, the list serve, 20 online training courses, and Director’s Newsletter have been getting a lot of interest because of the value on a variety of potential topics each provides.

How are membership benefits different than the benefits of being a member of CUNA?

You have to be a volunteer or CEO of a CUNA and league-affiliated credit union to be a member of the CUNA Volunteer Network. The network provides opportunities that are focused specifically on the roles of credit union board and supervisory committee members. The membership benefits include additional discounts and access to tools and information CUNA offers, plus some exclusive options for just the CUNA Volunteer Network members at an affordable value.  Basically, if a board or board member takes advantage of even half of the tools available to them through the network, they’ve more than paid for their membership and it’s all served up on an easy-to-use and access website.

Learn more about the network at

A Smarter Choice (.org) for Your Finances

Posted by on Thursday, 17 February, 2011

A common question in the Credit Union industry is “how do we change credit unions from being ‘the best-kept secret in financial institutions’ to ‘It’s no secret: Credit unions are consumers best option for financial services.’”

Insiders may get it, but to everybody else – well, it’s still a secret.

A new website, going on-line Feb. 28, aims to start changing that. will debut at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) on February 28. The site is aimed at telling the credit union story to consumers-at-large and the press. Above that purpose it will also work at convincing more of those potential members to consider and then join a credit union.

The new website is being developed through a partnership between CUNA and State Leagues- Its development costs were borne entirely by the state associations; the website’s services are free to all visitors.

A key component of is the first, consolidated and comprehensive “credit union locator” which will direct consumers to a CU they can join with minimal hassle and no confusion. The CU locator will include all credit unions – regardless of their charter, affiliation, size, or business models.

The website name,, emphasizes the exceptional value and service credit unions provide to more than 92 million consumers today.  As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions return earnings back to their members in the form of better rates and lower fees.  Independent surveys consistently rank credit unions above banks and thrifts as the institution consumers trust to look out for their best interests.

The stimulus for the project came from a task force assembled by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), made up of chief executives of several state associations. In their deliberations, the task force identified a key goal for the new web tool: Helping credit unions build membership.

In addition to the tools provided by the site will also spread the latest good word of credit unions appearing in the national, regional and local news media and much more. has the potential of spreading the CU difference like never before, allowing us, passionate credit union professionals and enthusiasts to add another tool to our “share the CU spirit” arsenal. What ways do you think this can revolutionize our industry?  Post your ideas and comments below!

Top 10 Posts for 2010 and a Thank You from CUNAverse

Posted by on Thursday, 30 December, 2010

The CUNAverse Team2010 was an exciting year for our team - it was the year we kicked off CUNAverse!  In just 7 months since we launched CUNAverse 10,000 people have checked out the blog, we’re nearing 100 posts, many of you have commented and sent tweets and we’re looking forward to keeping the conversation going in 2011.

We wanted to take the time before 2010 came to a close to thank you for helping to make our launch in to the blogosphere such a blast.  As we near 2011 please leave us a comment here on the blog, send us a tweet, or drop us a message on our facebook page to let us know the types of things you’d like to see on CUNAverse next year.

For those of you that have just joined in on the CUNAverse conversation, here is a look back at our top 10 blog posts from 2010:

1. Does Your Credit Union Have a Social Media Policy?

2. What Credit Unions Can Learn From Pizza Hut

3. What Credit Unions Can Learn From Ritz Carlton

4. Compliance: Are You Ready For 2011?

5. Why Celebrate International Credit Union Day?

6. Turnover Increase on the Horizon for Credit Unions

7. Culture of Fear or a Culture of Love

8. Worried that CUs Aren’t Focused Enough on Upcoming Truth In Lending Changes

9. Taking Your Credit Union From Good to Great

10.  First Feedback on Bill Cheney as New CUNA President/CEO

CUNA Intern Published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

We have very talented and dedicated staff working for America’s credit unions here at CUNA. Our interns are no exception.

In fact, one of our Editorial Interns, Casey Mysliwy, was published in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Casey helps produce material for CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance web publications such as Home and Family Finance Resource Center and MoneyMix: Launch Your Life.

We know how talented she is, and we are very excited that a respected and established personal finance periodical such as Kiplinger’s recognizes her talents as well. Casey’s success is a testament of her talents and reflects the expertise of CUNA staff.

Watch this video to learn more about Casey’s article, and take a moment to read the article online.

The Thrill of the Chase: Deal of the day sites

Posted by on Friday, 19 November, 2010

I have to confess: I’m a discount junkie. I and perhaps some of you as well, have a certain love for discounted shopping. We go by many names – coupon queens (and kings!), discount divas (divos?),  frugalistas… the list goes on -just don’t call us cheap ;) .  I simply love a good deal.  If someone were to compliment on anything I own, rather than dishing on the details of the object, I relish in what a bargain it was. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Whew, I’m glad I got that out in the open!  I get the impression that I’m not alone in my conquest for coupons.

Thanks to Groupon I can affordably solve a mystery while eating a 3-course dinner.

There are many emerging websites solely dedicated to bringing deep discounts to the masses.  is a website launched in 2008 that showcases ‘deal-of-the-day’ offers from businesses in and near the city you live in. Starting with the Chicagoland area, the site now has offers from over 150 US cities, around 100 international markets, and is reportedly worth over $1 billion dollars. LivingSocial launched a similar daily deals program in 2009, which has, to date, been their most successful venture. One thing I particularly like about LivingSocial is their ‘escapes’ off-shoot which features discounted vacation stays/packages. If I can save hundreds on my planned trip to San Francisco with minimal effort, you better believe I’ll take that offer! PS, signing up for deal alerts for vacation destinations is a great way to pick up dining discounts during your vacation (I picked up a San Fran one this week!).

How can credit unions capitalize on the discounts bandwagon??  Take part! Yesterday I read this blog post from Matt Davis of the Filene Research Institute on how credit unions can help to give the gift of membership to their loved ones over the holidays. I thought it was a great correlation of modeling some CU offers and behaviors off of what other cooperatives are providing their members. Is your credit union currently using something similar to attract new and potential members?  If so, we’d love to hear from you – post in our comment section below

As you approach the best way to showcase your CU in the social media realm, please consider new venues to spread the word other than the standbys of Facebook and Twitter. It’s refreshing to see new options for social media and the possibility it holds for credit unions to bring awareness, education, and our philosophy to the masses. Perhaps you showcase your own daily deal, or maybe you can sponsor the deal of the day to get out the good word.

If anyone has been experimenting with discounted deals for your CU, or plans to do so in the future CUNAverse would love to know, we love to see you trying new fun innovative ways of bringing awareness to social media capabilities.

Discount Divas everywhere will be singing your praises ;) Live, save and prosper!

What I’ve Learned about Online Community Management

Posted by on Wednesday, 25 August, 2010

A little over two years ago, I helped the Councils launch CUNA Councils Connect, an online social network for members. Why? Soon after I started working here, it was clear there was a need for robust member searching and more targeted discussion groups with additional functionality. Working with volunteer credit union members of every Council, planning and development took about six to eight months before we launched the network. I learned a lot in that span of time, but I’ve probably learned even more in the last two years actually managing the online community.

The following are the biggest lessons I have learned. Keep in mind that it not only applies to social networks or communities, but could easily be applicable to some aspects of your credit union’s social media activity, particularly your credit union’s Facebook page.

Care and feeding is a must. This is huge. “If you build it, they will come” does not apply here. As most of you know, with almost any social media tool or website, you need to constantly remind and tell your prospective users about it. Council members are plugged into a lot of networks and still have a very heavily used list serve. Therefore, I not only set up and update Connect to send many types of automatic notifications, but I also frequently send email reminders with relevant news and information to remind members of the network’s usefulness.

Make it easy. If you work and work to get them to use your site, you want them to find what they are looking for. Otherwise, they probably won’t login again. For example, in the set up phase, I worked very hard to make Connect’s username and password the same as the rest of Council’s other password protected areas. That was a small thing, but I know it ensures members have one less hurdle to jump when using the site.

Your users will surprise you. That’s a good thing! Because social media is so participatory and conversational, often your members will have good ideas. For instance, we envisioned Connect’s discussion groups to be focused around areas of expertise, geographic, or topical subjects. And they were. But a few months after launch, some members started vendor “users groups” for members to share best practices and questions on a specific vendor or product. They took off immediately.  In the same vein, your users will also have good suggestions on usability and functionality. Listen to your users.

Beware of feature creep. You can do a lot with social media tools and you will be tempted to use all the bells and whistles at your fingertips. To make it easy and useful, just focus on your objectives and then look at actual activity. One example:  the company we work with to provide CUNA Councils Connect offers a bunch of cool features as part of their social networking platform. I use about 60% (ie: I really don’t have a reason to roll out wikis and geo-caching…yet). Additionally, when we launched Connect, we had a “live chat” feature, where we envisioned members talking to other members in real-time over CU issues, etc. After a year of usage and education, I noticed no one really used the feature correctly or even understood how to use it. We pulled the plug on it and no one noticed. That means one less thing to get in the way of Connect’s core features and usefulness.

Find a few evangelists & power users to help spread the word. You will find that certain individuals will take to the community right away. They post more than others. They love the features. They are not shy. They have good ideas. Get to know these people! I have a group of people like that in Connect and always promote their postings when I can, send them emails or notes after they post, give them a nudge sometimes, and even go so far as sending some small “trinkets” in the mail to thank them.

These are the big ones. Did I miss anything? Please feel free to leave in the comments.

Live From The 1: Using the Power of Social Networking to Build Your Credit Union

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 July, 2010

Everyone knows about social media, and talks about being hands-on and interactive. But what does this mean and how do you do it? Some people (& credit unions…) sensing a huge business potential throw money at new online opportunities. But speaker Tara Hunt says, “Money isn’t the capital of choice in online communities, it’s social capital, known as ‘whuffie,’ that drives these new engines.”

Tara, the author of The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business, says that in the social media space, market capital flows from having high social capital. Without high levels of “whuffie” (I can say that word all day BTW), you lose your connections to online communities, and any recommendations you make will be seen as spam.

The first part of her presentation echoed Brent Dixon’s yesterday. Viral social media content is mostly emotional, positive…awe-inspiring. People are sharing personal information and feelings like never before via social media (even their location – gasp!). The social web is growing and changing the way we interact with each other.

One particularly interesting finding she mentioned is that social networking affects the brain like falling in love – if a company or brand raises our oxytocin levels, we are more likely to connect with them.

Some great examples and videos Tara showed the group:

Tara’s final words – “This stuff is important. All you need is love. May the force be with you.”

What I Learned About Social Media at Marketing Management School

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 July, 2010

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending CUNA’s Marketing Management School in Orlando, Florida. Although my tenure (ten years!) at CUNA has provided me with opportunities to travel and work at various onsite events this was my first experience working with credit union marketers. It was an absolute delight!

Meghann Dawson, my colleague and fellow CUNAverse blogger, spent the last year working with Anne Legg (CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Chair), and Randy Schultz (of Weber Marketing) to revamp the existing school.

The result was a stellar 3D program, with “dimensions” for marketers of every level.  Dimension 1 was led by Randy Schultz; Dimension 2 was led by Mark Arnold, CCUE (of Neighborhood Credit Union) and Dimension 3 was led by Jeff Rendel (of Rising Above Enterprises). This trio was responsible for leading and facilitating the educational offerings. Throughout the week Meghann and I heard from students in each dimension that their facilitator was “the best of the three.” Clearly, Randy, Mark and Jeff brought their “A game” to Orlando, as did all of the other speakers.

I personally learned A LOT at Marketing Management School… I could write several posts on the experience…but, I’ve boiled it down to this:

If you want to be a strong leader, you need to embrace Web 2.0/Social Media. What do I mean by this? You need to start educating yourself on Web 2.0. This means reading blogs (this one is a great start!), subscribing to RSS feeds, investigating wikis, and watching videos on sharing sites like YouTube, to name a few.  Social Media  is not a passing fad. Strong leaders recognize the true power of the Internet and the importance of being technologically savvy.  Embracing Web 2.0 might mean asking for help. Enlist the help of your part-time student teller. Hire a marketing intern from your local high school or college.  If nothing else, check out other credit unions who are embracing Web 2.0 well. Do whatever it takes to get educated because education truly IS power.

Last week my 11 year old niece taught my mom more about her iPhone in 3 days, than my mom had learned in 3 months. Why? Because kids play! They aren’t afraid to push buttons until they figure things out.  Become a kid again. Play! Have fun! Open yourself up to learning. It’s the only way to survive in today’s fast-paced, ever-connected world.

If your credit union is not involved in social media efforts, it’s time to get on board. In each classroom, this message was resounding. Web 1.0 was about obtaining information, Web 2.0 is about people. More importantly, people connecting with other people. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

43% of the online community is now using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. (If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, this piece is a good starting point). If you want your credit union to thrive, you must have an online presence.

As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Neighborhood Credit Union, Mark Arnold shared his top  Five Reasons for Using Social Media to Reach Members:

  1. To drive sales.
  2. To improve member service.
  3. To build your credit union’s brand.
  4. To create name awareness.
  5. To potentially save money.

As Mark pointed out so succinctly, social networking is about collaborating, interacting and transparency. Social networking is about honesty, authenticity, conversations and dialogue. Isn’t that what credit unions are all about too?

I returned from Marketing Management School refreshed, rejuvenated and reinspired by all of the wonderful things that are going on in Credit Union Land. I thank all of you who joined us on the journey!

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” —B. B. King

The Difference Between CUNA & CUNA Mutual

Posted by on Friday, 4 June, 2010

Credit Union Center in Madison - In this picture, CUNA is in the front & CUNA Mutual is the building in the back.

A few weeks ago, I did a post on using social media in your credit union training, where I linked to the following video and then realized, “You know, I’m sure more people could benefit from watching it.” So I’m sharing it with you.

Sure, I’m sure you industry veterans are scoffing right now because you know that CUNA (Credit Union National Association) is different from CUNA Mutual.  Same industry, different roles. But I’m always surprised by the reaction sometimes at credit union events or conferences when I introduce myself and where I work and get “Oh cool, so you sell insurance?”

So for those new to the credit union system or for those who want to learn more – this video is for you. Some background: It was borne out of a presentation I did on CUNA at the National Credit Union Foundation’s DE Training program last year. A new friend from CUNA Mutual was presenting right after me (Jennifer Kuhn) so we thought it would be fun to do a little take-off on the PC/MAC ads highlighting the similarities and differences between the two organizations  to open them (“You support credit unions too? You are in Madison?” And so on).

It was a big hit so when we got back, we polished it up and CUNA Mutual filmed it for their internal training.  Naturally, they’ve since put it up on YouTube too to help educate others. It’s also played in the common areas too of the campus, which is funny because more than once someone has stopped me in the cafeteria with a “Hey, where do I know you? Oh, you’re CUNA!”

Anyway, enjoy (yes, it’s cheesy):

Is Your Credit Union Leveraging Yelp & Google? Start Now.

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 May, 2010

About a year ago now, I did a post at on some free online tools every credit union marketer should be using – Google Alerts, Twitter search, etc. The tools are still relevant because even if you aren’t embarking on a full-scale social media campaign, your membership and potential members might be talking about you. And you need to listen and respond if necessary. Ten or fifteen years ago, if a member had a good or bad experience with your credit union, they simply called or wrote the branch to complain.

Not anymore.

Now they can blog about it, tweet about it, update their Facebook status about it, and so on. And that information is public and most likely could live on forever. And Google loves blogs – for a personal example, about two years ago I got my auto loan through Great Wisconsin Credit Union here in Madison (now Summit CU) and did a blog post about my experience – Google “auto loan great Wisconsin credit union” and my blog post is (sometimes) towards the top of the search results. Do you think a potential auto loan seeker will read that blog post? Heck yes. So be prepared.

Aside from assembling your rapid response social media team, one thing you can do is to invest some time into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – getting your web pages higher in search results. For a primer, I recommend checking out a blog post I did for CU Communicator a while back and more importantly, Google’s free SEO starter guide (who knows search better than Google?). Once you dig a little deeper into SEO, you’ll find yourself forever changed on how you write copy for your web pages (example – stop using “CU” and write out “credit union”…are members searching “CU” or “credit union?”)


Another overlooked outlet for disgruntled or happy members is Yelp. Yelp is a website where “real people write real reviews” of area businesses. Most likely your credit union is listed and has been reviewed. You might have only one review which might not mean that much to you. But remember two things:

  1. 78% of People Trust Recommendations of Other Consumers (source)
  2. Google likes Yelp – for example, Heartland Credit Union here in Madison has only one review (4-stars out of 5)). When you Google “Heartland Credit Union Madison,” their Yelp page is on the first page of the search results. Will curious parties read that review? Again, heck yes.

So what can you do? First, visit Yelp’s business owner section and edit/update your business information (remember – if it shows up on the first page of Google results, it’s about as important as your credit union’s website in terms of visibility…think of it as an “online branch” so to speak). Then read this great blog post by Samuel Axon – “Yelp for Businesses: 4 Steps for Success” and follow his tips. I like the idea of displaying a Yelp badge on your site for example or re-posting some actual reviews. You can also display reviews or stickers in your branches too (see image for an easy example).

I’d also recommending making the rest of your staff aware of both of these resources/strategies – Yelp and SEO. For example, you might find yourself editing content less and you don’t want frontline staff caught off guard by a member who mention’s your credit union’s Yelp review.

“Yelp? Do you mean you need help? I’m sorry, let me get a manager…”

This post originally appeared at in a slightly different form.