Originally published on CUInsight.com
Is your social media presence harming your image? More at 11.
Oh yes, folks. We’re talking social media. Again. In more than 140 characters. That’s a Twitter reference for those of you preferring to communicate in more traditional methods. A practice which, sadly, appears to be gaining more aspects of “web-speak” every day. No I will not abandon my capitalized letters and appropriate use of a semicolon!
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, social media and its potential impacts on your credit union.
When it comes to communicating with your members on account information, what’s your preferred method? Phone, in-person, e-mail, or traditional mail? Like Luke in Return of the Jedi, you may not be aware that…”there is another (Skywalker).” Social media can be an alternative for those who prefer it. I’m not suggesting you handle money transfers and loan applications through Twitter (yet, seriously), but there are a number of markets taking advantage of the technology. One which has done an incredible job is the airline industry. Consider this: I was on a JetBlue flight with WiFi and tweeted that my seat’s headphone jack didn’t work. As a result, I could not watch the in-flight TV or listen to SiriusXM. Within a minute, their official support account answered me and asked to continue the conversation in a DM (Direct Message: a private chat, similar to a text message). I obliged and was then prompted by the agent to provide my name and confirmation number. After a few minute exchange (while still sitting in the seat, mind you), they issued a courtesy credit for the inconvenience on my account. Resolved at 35,000 feet.
Another time, and this one pains me to admit, I had issues with my Comcast internet service. I tweeted as such, @ mentioning Comcast (using LTE mobile data when needed). Within a matter of minutes, an agent from their official support account got in touch. They too DMed me requesting my account #. “Woah!” you say. Yes, they deem the Direct Message feature of Twitter to be secure enough to transfer most customer information (most social media platforms also use a Verified Account badge to ensure you’re communicating with the “real thing”). After a few messages back and forth, they identified the issue and resolved it. Do you realize what that meant? I didn’t have to be on the phone with them at all!
I enjoy reading tweets from many credit unions. If you’re one of them, congratulations for sharing valuable information with your members and the world at large. If you haven’t yet joined, that’s ok. You’re not alone. And when you’re ready, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to go at it in the best way possible!
But as much as it can help your institution, there are risks involved. We’re not talking poor underwriting standards causing an implosion of your debt ratios. We’re talking something far more important…your image (social media is much like Hollywood in that respect). Whether you decide to go in-house or a 3rd-party, the rules are the same. Most of the best practices involve just being rational. Don’t share private member information, don’t post things which can be interpreted as insulting, etc. If you wouldn’t send it to your mom, don’t hit Tweet.
Of course, there’s always the risk at being caught up in something which has errors you missed. For example, a few weeks ago, a tweet was shared by Co-Op Credit Unions (@innovatebanking) discussing strategies to increase your savings. Seems to fit, right? Unfortunately, their tweet (since corrected) read, “How to save $100,000 in a year. (link to article)” Wow! I need to know this…now! Not surprisingly, the post was incorrect. Rather, the link described ways the average American can save $10,000 in a year. “What’s an extra 0?” As a financial institution, you should know the answer to that question…a mistake you cannot make. The craziest part? This tweet has 18 retweets (users who shared it to their followers) and 14 likes, yet my reply was the only one calling out the error. Please never be “that guy (or gal)” who retweets or likes something with such blatant errors! It can tarnish your own brand. How? Consider it from your member’s perspective: “How can I believe the claims my credit union makes when they didn’t even bother to check an obvious number error in something they shared, ie. represented as their own?”
UPDATE: Co-Op Credit Unions has issued a corrected tweet, fixing the typo. And this is what makes all the difference, because…Generation Z (your youngest and future members) see social media as a way of getting information, not just a tool to communicate with friends. If your information is wrong, how will they regard your ability to help their financial situation?
UPDATE 2: It happened again. During today’s #NCUAChat (great Twitter discussion), the NCUA (under their username @MyCUgov) shared a graphic with 3 tips for financial safety online. A good thing. Except their graphic was so riddled with typos, spelling errors, and bad information that it could be deemed more harmful than good. Unless they were aiming to be ironic – “See, this is the kind of thing we want members to look out for!” Though government agencies aren’t often ironic. And, surprise! Many wonderful people and groups shared it to their own followers. Did anyone read it first? (Probably not…a previous post discusses how liking or sharing something means you’re less likely to read it) Once again, don’t be those people! Share with care!
So, a review:
- Social media is now being used as an effective customer support tool for industries with some of the poorest records in the category. Yet they make it work. How is your credit union embracing this new opportunity? Perhaps a mention of the strategy during longer hold times or on your support/contact page. What do you need to do to balance security requirements with member convenience?
- A new outreach venue offers massive opportunities, but can also hide unique risks. Is your in-house or outsourced team on the same page, aware of credit union strategy (yes, include them in your planning meetings)? Are they trained to catch typos and other errors, politely pointing them out or editing after discovered?
Your social media feed is unlikely to be featured on the 11 o’clock news, but, if it is (congratulations to your marketing team), make sure it’s for the reasons you want!