A plea for help

A credit union professional, who prefers to remain anonymous, has put out a plea for help on EverythingCU.com. Our colleague asks what to do about his/her management team being dead-set against the CU getting involved in social media in any form.

Since social media is in my blood, having been involved in the online networking world for ten years or so, this question is beyond my reckoning. To me it’s akin to saying, “I’m dead-set against oxygen.”

But I’m hoping that more rational thought can be employed here.

Please feel free to answer our colleague on EverythingCU.com here. If you are not a CU employee, but would like to help state the case, comment here, and I will re-post your message on EverythingCU.com with attribution.


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15 Responses to “A plea for help”

  1. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    What are the management team’s objections? Why are they so opposed? It’ll be easier to form the argument in favor when we know what objections we need to overcome.

  2. Ron Shevlin Says:

    The way I see it, the choice comes down to four alternatives: 1) Continue fighting for SM and hope to wear them down; 2) Hold your tongue and respect the decision management has made, no matter how much you disagree with it; 3) Do SM stuff under the radar and hope you don’t get caught; or 4) Quit and find an SM-friendly CU.

    I’d recommend #2 with a caveat (will explain that in a minute). The reality of life in an organization is that decisions are made that: 1) Not everyone agrees with, and/or 2) May very well be wrong. But if SM is truly “oxygen” than it’s only a matter of time that the mgmt team comes around to seeing the need/oppty for it.

    It wasn’t very different 12/13 years ago, when mgmt in many firms were deadset against the Web. It’s simply a matter of time.

    If you don’t want to wait it out, you could try #1 or #3. That probably won’t win you a lot of fans among the sr. mgmt team. Might not be good for your career progress at that CU. Your choice.

    So, I advocate for #2, and here’s the caveat: Keep up w/ the development of SM and be ready to lead the charge when the mgmt team comes around. If they don’t w/in a year or so, then maybe that isn’t the right place for you. You might have to make that decision sooner, rather than later.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Chris Berger Says:

    I think the first step is somehow finding out their biggest objections and then breaking down those walls.

    From my experience it usually comes down to 2 things: 1. The fear of the “what-ifs”. 2. They see it as a waste of time.

    In my opinion, a Social Media Policy is an easy way to address #1. They need to understand that people are ALREADY talking…SM allows you respond to everything and participate in the conversation. The policy sets and establishes rules that usually help senior teams overcome objections. I wrote about this in a recent blog (http://bergerchris.x.iabc.com/)

    Case studies on succesful use of Social Media will be your best friend. Sr. Teams tend to think in bottom line and real, practical examples. There are plenty of these out there to from, big and small businesses alike.

    Good luck with this challenge. I know it is a tough one that a lot of us have fought before, and it will probably be something you’ll have to justify even if you end up getting it approved. But it is definitely a battle worth fighting for in my opinion.

  4. Elaine Says:

    Building on Chris’s response, I’d take some time to do some searching, set up some Google Alerts etc. to see what is already going on:

    * blogs or forums mentioning the CU (either good or bad)
    * employees who are doing their thing online in their off time (as is their constitutional right) mentioning their work in a casual way

    There may even be some employees, sales types in particular, who are using LinkedIn or Facebook as a networking tool entirely independently.

    That research should give you some useful information.

    It seems to me that some clarification of what arguments have been used, and what particular objections raised, would be helpful in providing advice.

    (At some point you do need to decide whether your career goals make Ron’s option #4 a necessity.)

  5. fred Says:

    Search engine optimization is the core of our social media strategy. Blogger (Member News), YouTube and Twitter all point back to our website. Our field of membership and budget do not fall in line with paid search. Our organic search engine optimization strategy is the above social media applications. Member interaction has been minimal. The closed nature of Facebook does not match our strategic intiative. We understand many people use Facebook but have not seen many “friends” of financial institutions in relation to actual customer or member numbers…ING is an exception.

  6. Andy LaFlamme Says:

    It really depends on what their objections are and what they view as social media.

    Is it that they don’t want to start a Twitter or Facebook account? There can be some valid reasons for not wanting to do so, especially if they (or you) don’t have a plan for using those venues.

    My suggestion would be to start small; to work some social media into your web presence that may not even be recognized as social media.

    Host event photos on Flickr and embed the slide show on your website, add the photos to relevant Flickr groups. You might just start making an impact on the management team without them even knowing that it’s really a social media venue.

    Talk to them about building an internal community for staff only. A blog, wiki, or other “social media” tool may just strike their fancy if you present it in a way that can benefit operational efficiency. Start by proving social medias ability to connect people from within and you may find that later on down the road they’ll come full circle.

  7. Anthony Demangone Says:

    I would put it this way: what is in it for them if the credit union uses a social media strategy? You have to show that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. We use social media here at NAFCU. My blog has been extremely popular, and it has actually increased member interactions with NAFCU and our reputation in general. But you have to usually phrase it terms of: 1) what is the problem or opportunity? 2) how does this solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity? 3) And why is this the best way to do it, or at least why it should be part of a coordinated strategy.

    And use numbers whenever possible.

  8. Morriss Partee Says:

    Madeline Anderson, the Marketing Manager for Bellweather CU in Manchester NH had this to say on EverythingCU.com side of the discussion:

    I had issues and everytime I brought it up I was presented with this sly grin and an attitude that I was trying to gain access to some sort of gaming site to play with at lunchtime. And management didn’t see the value of it at all. But then I did a bit of research on larger companies in the area that use it as well as credit unions that use it AND explained the viral nature and opportunities for inexpensive advertising, and a few people we had working with us on branding and image talked about it as a valid outlet, and we now have a FB page and are on twitter.

    We haven’t really built out those two yet because once we bought in to the idea, we accepted that it would also require more than just a half hour once in a while to keep both fresh, exciting, updated, and relevant. We’re waiting for the resources to make it a live and active tool. So maybe introduce it for use as a marketing tool first, without access to all employees… and show examples of how it is being used by others.

    Interesting to note. Our FB page was set up by the VP of Marketing, who does not use FB himself all that much. But he was shocked to find that we had over 20 “friends” within a very short time and no advertising or promotion at all. We’re hoping to build on the media in the second half of this year, but just getting a few people authorized to set it up might be an easier sell that opening it up to the entire workforce from the get go… just a thought.

    You might also do a survey of your membership and employees, asking whether they use Facebook. Linked In, Twitter, My Space, etc… see what the popular sites are and the number of people who are active there and it might also help the plea.

    Madeline Anderson

  9. Morriss Partee Says:

    Thanks for all the comments here everyone! I’ve reposted several on EverythingCU.com, and supplied links to this post from there, so I’m sure that all of your contributions are being considered!

  10. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    I agree with Andy completely.

    It seems rather random and/or irresponsible to answer such a broad question w/out more knowledge. What is the management team’s objection? Is it the ROI? The time investment? Are there particular social media tools they consider particularly unsavory? How are they defining social media in the first place?

    There’s a big difference between launching a Twitter or Facebook account and simply allowing moderated comments on an RSS-capable “News & Press Releases” section on the credit union’s website (you could call this a “blog lite”).

    YouTube is considered a social media tool, but where’s the harm in posting your TV commercials or financial education videos to YouTube, especially if they’ve already been produced and are just sitting around (on your desk, not on the web)?

    Most social media experts would probably not describe either TV spots on YouTube or a comments/RSS “News & Press Releases” section of a website as true “Social Media.” Which is why you could easily implement such things without ever referring to them as “social media.” It could be explained to the management team as simply “maximizing existing resources and assets with additional online functionality.”

  11. Gabriel Garcia Says:

    In my humble opinion it boils down to presenting your case for Social Media like you are presenting a business case. The moment the words “Social” anything enters the neural pathways of a Financial Institution’s tighlty knit management circle, you are going to have a battle – prepare before going to battle (and I mean prepare).

    The more case studies and actual metrics you can bring to the discussion will strengthen your case for Social Media and since it is here to stay and has been around for awhile – there is actual data out there. (My friends at Cisco Systems are blazing the trails with some great Social Media campaigns and there are some great CU’s that have also been laying golden bricks to the SM promise land).

    Some of us have been in those battles and know that some Financial Institutions are ultra Risk Averse when it comes to brand management and security–and rightfully so. The last thing you would want to do is to start a Social Media effort without a strategy – not only will you get laughed out of the building when the IT department tells you that you are out of your mind for wanting to build a blog on the corporate firewall that links to your other SM sites becuase you think it is cool and Gen Y.

    Folks at the top like to see numbers and are big on Return on Investment (luckily most SM stuff is open source and the main investment is time – use it wisely!).

    Turn it around on them when they say, “Why would we ever want to waste our time on Social Media” – and tell them, “Becuase our direct competitor is already leaving us in the dust with SM, our membership is asking for it, and here are the pro’s and cons compiled in your freshly printed spreadsheet/pie chart.

    Aw man..don’t get me started! Your CU compadre – G.

  12. Morriss Partee Says:

    ***** BREAKING NEWS *****


    The pope has blessed new media.

    The Word has come down from on high.

  13. Divine providence? « EverythingCU.com World 2.0 Adventure Says:

    […] EverythingCU.com World 2.0 Adventure Exploring new frontiers in the convergence of branding, marketing & technology « A plea for help […]

  14. Morriss Partee Says:

    Judy Gernhart, Business Development Specialist for a CU in NJ replied on EverythingCU:

    I mentioned creating a fan page a few times but management was not interested. This week I decided to try it out and created a group for my side business. Within 2 days I had 95 people join! 🙂
    Here is the link if you would like to check it out and become one of my groupies.


  15. John Wiley Says:

    I would highly recommend this link to be able to show the trends in e-marketing and social media. Also you can join the group on Linked In.
    I would be happy to make myself available to explain anything I can about using social and viral media as part of a cohesive advertising campaign.

    Lastly I think too many CUs do not take advantage of social media it IS the way to communicate with Gen-y & Millennials. They don’t watch TV, or read news papers…etc

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