Posts Tagged social networks

Yes, You Can Use Pinterest for Your Credit Union

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

This post was originally published on

To pin or not to pin? As the popularity of Pinterest continues to grow, that is the question many credit union professionals are starting to ask.

If you’re not already familiar with the website, here’s a quick rundown: Pinterest is a social bookmarking website that allows you to collect—or “pin”—content from around the Web to personalized pinboards. The usefulness for credit unions might not be immediately apparent. After all, Pinterest is practically tailor-made for brands that specialize in fashion, cooking, housewares, and other visually oriented pursuits.

So do credit unions really have a place on Pinterest? I would argue that they do—if you give some deeper thought to your current and prospective members’ motivation before diving in.

But first, let’s talk about some statistics. In terms of numbers, it making more and more sense to have a presence on Pinterest because that’s where the Web users are. Check out these insights compiled by Monetate, a provider of digital marketing and optimization tools:

  • Estimated unique visitors to Pinterest increased by 329% from September to December 2011.
  • Pinterest is now driving more Web traffic than Google+.
  • The top five tips for using Pinterest include promoting a lifestyle, using it as a focus group, crowdsourcing, running contests, and inspiring your team.

So what are some specific ways that credit unions can start pinning? The key is to tap into the goals of members, and show them how your credit union can play a vital role in helping them achieve those goals.

Think about it like this: Users typically use their boards as future inspiration. They might pin images of new cars, dream kitchens, vacation destinations, or splurge-worthy shoes. Do you notice a pattern here? Your credit union can help members work toward all of these goals. You just have to position yourself on Pinterest as their biggest financial adviser and cheerleader. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a collaborative pinboard of potential savings goals, and invite other users to become contributors. Encourage them to pin content related to whatever they want to save money for, and offer advice and feedback through comments.
  • Lots of pinners use Pinterest to find creative ideas for kids. Try creating a pinboard that focuses on projects or activities that teach children about money. Or, for something more lighthearted, create a pinboard dedicated to something quirky, like unique piggy banks. A quick Web search should reveal lots of fun images worth pinning.
  • Use pins to direct members to specific areas of your website. But make sure you’re actually sharing content that will genuinely interest members. For instance, does your credit union maintain a blog or write articles for members? Pin attention-grabbing images or infographics that link back to your content.

As with any form of social media, getting started with Pinterest might be a trial-and-error process at first—and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and strategies to find what works best for your followers.

Have you started using Pinterest for your credit union? Share your experience with a comment!

How credit unions and financial institutions use social media

Posted by on Wednesday, 1 February, 2012

A friend was recently hired into the credit union industry. As she got up-to-speed with credit unions she wanted to get a better sense for how financial institutions use social media and asked if I would supply her with resources on the subject.

I said to myself after replying to her request: “Self… CUNAverse readers might find this information useful!” I agreed with myself, as I often do.

So, here is a small list of online resources I track with periodically or have found to be useful. It is by no means an exhaustive list—nor an endorsement—but rather a small sampling of what I use to stay current with the credit union space and better understand how financial institutions use social media. Perhaps you will find these helpful as well.

What resources and examples would you suggest? Please share them in the comments!


Examples of credit unions using social media:


Resources from the credit union industry:


Articles on social media and financial institutions:


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

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.

A Peek Behind the CUNAverse Curtain: Internal Launch & Tips

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 May, 2010

Blogs can be confusingEver thought about starting a blog for your credit union? They’re an awesome opportunity to further connect with members.

In fact, it’s so awesome we decided a blog would be a great way to deepen the connection with OUR members… enter CUNAverse.

Resources such as Blogger, WordPress, and others make it easy to place blogs on the Web.  I’ve been known to set up a blog on the Web in less than an hour.

But it’s not the speed at which you set up a blog that determines its ultimate success. Careful planning and preparation before a blog launch is vital.

CUNAverse Cake

Yummy cake at internal launch

One item to plan for is the internal launch. Just like a new product being launched to the public, initial success for the blog is influenced by information shared internally before an official public launch.

Why? The more staff you have on-board, the more resources will be available to those shepherding the blog. The internal launch is your chance to efficiently build additional support, generate ideas, identify potential contributors, and educate those unfamiliar with blogs.

With that, I’m pulling back the curtain to share a glimpse of our internal launch for CUNAverse. This information will be helpful to those who wish to launch a blog for their credit union—and just plain amusing to the rest of you.

Watch the video:

Of course, I can’t just end a post like that! It’s kind of a let down if I don’t share more than just conversation and cake.

Here’s what we did for the internal launch:

  1. Buzz before. We posted signs, e-mailed invitations, and implemented what turned out to be a “grass roots” effort to get staff curious and raise awareness. The signs were intriguing (featuring the Vicuna… a llama-like
    A Vicuna

    The Vicuna: A Llama-like creature

    creature), e-mails were informative, and the grass roots effort included sharing general information about what we were doing during meetings and everyday conversations around the office.

  2. Interactive. We held activities, contests, and posted more signs in an informal setting for our internal launch. We wanted to do things a little differently than what staff may have been expecting to help grab their attention. Each effort helped communicate our mission, generated post ideas and identified potential resources.
  3. Perpetuate excitement. Another contest was announced after the internal launch to keep staff interested and harness the energy and excitement generated. The contest awarded a prize for the “best” blog post on a subject of the writer’s choosing.

So, what do you think? Any tips to share from your own internal launches?

>Credit Union = Social Network

Posted by on Friday, 30 November, 2007

>I read through some of the conversations in this blog around social networks and the role of credit unions. In my opinion, they are synonymous.

A basic characteristic of Credit Unions is that the membership owns and controls the Credit Union. My experience with social networks has been exactly that – the members control the experience.

As an example, Facebook is the fastest growing major social network with over 54 million active users and a valuation of around $15 billion. However, when their CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched a new feature called News Feed, his “membership” was not happy. While the feature is now popular (many months later), it was so poorly received that Mark posted the following statement on the Facebook blog: “We really messed this one up,” he wrote. “When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.” Not the type of thing you imagine most CEOs doing – taking full responsibility in an open and transparent way. Welcome to the world of social media!

Social networks rely heavily on being completely open and transparent to their members. We often hear many customer-oriented companies say that they must “listen to their customers.” Social networks actually interact with their members. Blogs facilitate this communication – anyone can start a discussion and invite others to participate, like this blog which Josh Jones invited me to participate in.

Credit Unions are uniquely positioned to take advantage of their own social network, and certainly have a history of providing superior member service and a commitment to truly caring about the financial health of their membership.

Social networking is nothing new, however technology like Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace has enabled more than 120 million people (or 2/3 of all people with internet access) to utilize this new tool.

John Donovan is the Chief Operating Officer of and will be speaking at the YES Summit on December 3rd.

>Social Media for You and Them

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 November, 2007

>If you keep up with any marketing blogs or have read many of 2007’s trendily-jacketed-business-books, then you’ve heard again and again: This is a time of extreme change for marketers. “People are changing! Markets are changing! Media is changing!”

Marketers’ opinions of social media – blogging, consumer generated media, podcasting, social review sites, Twitter, Second Life, and on and on – are also changing. Over the past year, the pendulum seems to have swung from anxiety and fear all the way over to excitement and enthusiasm.

I love and share that enthusiasm (I get nerdy and overly excitable about social media). But I also worry that we might be focusing too much on the emerging technologies themselves when we should really focus on the people we want to use them.

Just like nobody talks to their phone, people do not interact with social media. They interact with other people.

So rather than asking if your credit union should be blogging, a better starting point is “What are our goals, who are we trying to reach, and how can we add value to them?”

At this year’s ad:tech, NY, one of the speakers (I wish I could remember which one) said this:

“Don’t start marketing-strategy conversations with technologies. Start with business problems and let social media and technology follow.”

Bottomline: Social media should solve business problems for you and add value for your users.

Here are two examples:

Online product reviews, like Bank of America’s, are a great way to utilize comment-like functionality in your main site content. This allows your members to voice their opinions and learn more about your products from people like themselves. And it helps you develop your products with realtime consumer insight.

Facebook is probably a better social network to engage than MySpace. There are numerous reasons for this, one of which is that Facebook is actionable. You can build tools for users to do things. For example, Chase’s +1 Card lets users manage their account and rewards points directly through Facebook. Users can even pass rewards on to friends. It’s more fun and convenient for cardholders, and gives Chase a viral promotion channel.

On Monday, I’ll talk about how to use blogs in ways that go outside of typical corporate blogging. If you have any examples you’d like to see discussed, by all means post a comment right here.

And if you’re in Austin next week, come say hi.

Brent Dixon is the Creative Director of Trabian and a co-author of the Open Source CU credit union blog.

>Credit Unions and MySpace… It Can Work

Posted by on Friday, 23 March, 2007


There has been some recent discussion in the credit union world about the use of MySpace to better attract and serve youth and young adults.

In my opinion, this is a great opportunity with one concern… be careful with what you post.

And I’m not speaking of wild credit union parties or questionable content. Be sure to keep sales pitches and any mention of great interest rates off of the profile. The last thing a MySpace user wants is to be “solicited” by a financial institution. You can always post a link to your credit union’s website where folks who want to find out more information on various products and services can do so.

Instead, please post something relevant to the social network in which you are entering and be subtle in your approach to attract young adults through your MySpace page.

Here are a few ideas…
* Information highlighting young adults at your credit union.
* Have a young adult employee post a story about a recent financial experience Post pictures of young adults who are served at the credit union
* Post some very basic financial education information, such as the difference between CD’s and savings accounts or describe how loans work… just be careful not to post how great your rates are and smack them over the head with a sales pitch.
* Explain why credit unions are different than banks
* Post pictures/video/content about a recent community service project, or some other story about how the credit union has upheld it’s commitment to bettering the community.

Take advantage of placing a profile on MySpace to educate members and potential members. Do not treat this as free advertising, MySpace users won’t warm up to how great your interest rates are, or that they can get a great new car loan. In fact, that may achieve the opposite. Save that stuff for your real website.

Okay… so how do you post a profile? Ask a young adult who works at your credit union to take some time and post one. Can’t afford to have your valuable employee away from serving your members? Here’s a great idea… make it a contest among your young adult members to come up with a design, and then have young adult members vote on the best idea.

MySpace can work… as long as you are careful about what you post. This is a great opportunity for credit unions to reach out and communicate with the younger demographic on their terms. It’s a great opportunity to put a friendly face on your credit union, and explain a few things along the way. Who knows, you might even gain a few young adult members.

Just remember not to post content that screams “I want to sell you something”.