Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Author: Joe Winn (Page 2 of 73)

Speaker, educator, and all-around awesome geek serving the credit union world. Identifying and overcoming emerging challenges within the industry. Also, being a secret ninja. And a Jedi.

Blog Management Tools Your Credit Union Can Use [2020]

Originally published on CUInsight.com

It takes more than just some ideas to keep a blog running. (If only!) On this system, there are a series of platforms and services which work together. Let’s discuss each and how they contribute to the overall success.

Then, we’ll look at how you can use these strategies to improve your own blogging and social media efforts.

What? You don’t have a blog or other learning portal for members to access? For the sake of your social and search presence, get started today!

Since that’s part of what my company educates on, I’m here to help!

With so much being done remotely, it’s essential to provide the relationship members expect through your digital channels. And telling stories, sharing updates, or educating on relevant topics all falls into this guidance.

Scheduled Posts

Every so often, typically on Tuesdays, a new post appears (Updated for 2020!). You get a notification, e-mail, tweet, or some other thing, which directs you here. And I am super appreciative that you visit.

Even if it’s just to see if your name is mentioned. Sarah, Steve, Phil, Mohammad, Lorraine, Shanice, Ashley, Qui-Gon…are you a winner? There’s always next time.

No matter what moved you to action, you are here now. Yet what made this post appear? Was I sitting on a device debating when to press Post? Well, yes, I do that, but not in this case.

Airport Flights Screen
Ha, remember when we looked at flight charts and went to airports?

I use the post scheduler to keep a consistent flow of content, even if I happen to be busy at that time. I’m sure you never find yourself suddenly occupied when other obligations are waiting…

Whatever platform you use, it supports scheduled posts. At one point, I had over a year of content scheduled on this blog. That’s back when I was really good at writing and prioritizing. It was also a bit crazy.

The Guts of the System

What’s it like behind the curtains, down the rabbit’s hole, outside the Matrix? To be honest, it’s pretty similar to the world you inhabit.

I just have mad hatters, agents with equally mad martial arts skills, and a reasonably unhappy (did you think I’d say “mad”?) wizard who is not a wizard at all.

Whew, how many references did I even make there? No time to count, we’ve got to talk about the blog platform!

WordPress

To start, Credit Union geek is built using WordPress. More than half the internet uses this platform, and to no big surprise. It’s easy to craft to your needs, quickly, easily, and without a lot of technical knowledge.

Security Concerns

Because WordPress is so widespread, security fixes are released within hours. With a strong password (Also updated for 2020!), a WordPress site is as safe as one could expect online.

I used to use an extension called WordFence, which blocks suspicious activity and also visitors who are likely up to no good. That’s just the surface of its functionality, and I’d at least look at it and similar products before launching.

Wait, used to?

Yes, I no longer keep this plugin going, as I tightened up the security of my site through other means. The reason for the change? Performance impacts.

For maximum performance, go with a platform that does scanning off-server. What that means is your own system doesn’t do the work; it’s passed off. This won’t be free. But it could be reasonably priced.

The other sideswipe here was at slow hosting providers (you know who you are). You can load up a site with all sorts of capabilities, but if the hosting is under par, it’s going to drag. On fast hosting, even a poorly-optimized site flies.

Sharing Content, or, Ensuring You Know It Exists

For sharing, I take a few paths. My goal is to be where you are. If that’s this site, great. Only I cannot expect all of you to come here daily! No one’s stopping you. 🙂 However, to get proper reach, I’ve got to go social!

Twitter

Twitter

The most common is Twitter. When on my computer, I use the Tweetdeck web-app. On my iPad and iPhone, I use Twitterrific. I can follow trending topics (Yes, updated for 2020!), schedule posts, and see all my interactions on one screen.

But what if you’re not on Twitter? Or, even if you are, it’s easy to miss a few posts. In case you didn’t notice, a lot of people use it. And some of them post far too much (often while saying far too little).

Thus, Twitter isn’t my only outreach medium.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

I also share all my posts on LinkedIn using their Article platform. To inform people of their existence, I sometimes post on a variety of credit union-focused LinkedIn groups.

Unfortunately, activity on those groups fell over the years. After watching posts get 0 engagements over the course of months, I pulled away as well. The groups were great, so if you’re ready to come back, I am, too!

Shameless plug: Our company maintains a LinkedIn Group called Credit Unions: Post-COVID-19. Sure, we’re not “post” anything yet, but it’s about looking ahead to plan for what the near and medium-term future will hold.

Anyway, I see LinkedIn as my main area for interaction. Despite not liking their mobile app, I’ve put it back in my phone so I can check notifications and comment on related industry posts.

Do you use LinkedIn, and, if so, for what purposes? (If it’s for finding another job, just say, “Waffle recipes” in the comments. It’ll be our little secret. Also, please share waffle recipes.)

Facebook

Occasionally, I’ll share on Facebook to friends and family. Since this is business-related content, most don’t care. So it’s less common than all other mediums.

If you’re looking to engage with members, you’ll want to use this platform. Why? Because they’re on it. Instagram, too, which Facebook owns and anyone under 35 uses.

E-mail

Of course, readers can easily subscribe and receive new posts by e-mail. Do you? Because it’s the best way to get your dose of Geek.

Software Platforms

I’ve tried a lot of software over the years. Some don’t exist anymore. Others evolved to a point of being more frustration than productive. A few are new entrants I consider carefully.

ActiveCampaign – E-mail & Tracking

For e-mail campaign efforts, I use our company’s CRM platform: ActiveCampaign. These managed messages inform readers of my speaking availability (I’m way cooler in person, once it’s safe to do so again) or new posts.

Hey, there’s always web events!

It’s also a great way to let people know about full rewrite updates like those you see mentioned in this post. Plus, chances are, you weren’t reading back in 2014. Yet I’ve got some good stuff to surface from then!

ActiveCampaign gives me the flexibility to set up automations based on recipient activity, track open rates, and much more. It’s an ongoing process of learning what it can do, then discovering features just added.

Buffer – Social Media Management

Social Media Icons

With my priorities leaning towards our company’s Learning Library, I’ve been lax on use of this system. What is Buffer?

In a few words, it’s a single service to manage all your social media activity. Schedule posts, watch engagement, and much more. It works on desktop and mobile just as easily.

I really like how it lets you set up a bunch of posts, then have it automatically post them on a schedule you define ahead of time. They’ll even suggest best times for engagement on each service.

To explain: I can have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn connected to Buffer. Each has their own posts ready, abiding to individual schedules. It’s all your social activity, on one screen. Pretty cool, right?

Audio Posts

Microphone

When the mood strikes me, I’ll make an audio post. Why not video, you ask? Because the lighting and layout of my office isn’t ideal. I’ve tried. The audio is the better solution right now.

Update: I wrote this section pre-COVID-19. So, I had not given video a chance (without a tripod, that is). Now, I can make standing videos in my living room. You may have seen some of them over the past few months.

Whether video or audio, making recorded content isn’t a huge challenge. I used to use my AirPods as the microphones, but my new Mac has even better microphones. I just open Quicktime or Voice Memos and start talking.

It exports from both as a high-quality m4a file. That’s it!

Web Apps – Everything Else

To be honest, for most activities, I just use the website. Twitter posts? Tweetdeck, since it’s Twitter as it should be (without all the extra garbage).

LinkedIn? The website. It’s not great, but there’s no easier way to browse my feed to find relatable content.

Content creation? I used to use Evernote, but transitioned to Google Drive/Docs in the last year. When copying from the latter, it retains formatting in WordPress best. Plus, I can get to it/edit on any device with the same formatting controls.

At the end of the day, my goal is to not be tied to any one device. If I need to do something and all that’s available is my phone, it should work. It’s not ideal, but doable.

What’s Your Process?

I speak to a lot of credit union marketing and social media folks (Cleaned up for 2020!). They each have their own process for engaging members. I hope this post can help you decide on the best tools for your task.

Light Bulb Chalkboard

On your system, you may want things like chatbots to help serve members. Internally, different data analytics (Updated for 2020!) can assist in better engaging opportunities.

Just remember, tools are only as good as their user. I await the AI platform which writes, formats, hosts, and publicizes creative insights into the credit union industry.

Of course, then I won’t be the Credit Union Geek anymore. Unless that has already happened…

A Messenger Conversation of Financial Guidance, CUs, and Puns

Originally published on CUInsight.com

A few days ago, a friend asked me a favor. Since I’m a “financial expert” (Um, really? Oh boy.), she asked me to speak with her friend about credit card options. The other person had a challenging credit history with little financial knowledge at all.

A Facebook Messenger request later, and the chat began. My goal was probably familiar to those of you working with members:

  • Identify her challenges
  • Focus on her goals
  • Educate on her options
  • Develop a knowledge base she could build upon
  • Provide tangible actions she could take right now

Going in, she was open to learning, guidance, and had a good grasp of what she didn’t know. Maybe not common, but refreshing. 

I should also make clear: This entire conversation occurred over text on my phone only. Consider that as we look to digital solutions for all member engagements.

Since the conversation was for her, why not format the article about it the same way?

Challenges

Pushing Stone Uphill

Her story is one you will recognize. She made some poor financial decisions in the past (through lack of understanding, financial need, or immaturity). As a result, she had a poor credit score. Even worse, she saw the score as a scarlet letter.

“No shame. No judgement,” was my reassurance. You’re making great decisions now. That’s what matters.

On top of that, a common challenge across society: Family history of financial mismanagement and stress. Bravely, she claimed, “I want to break the cycle and not have to stress about any of [it].”

Beyond the poor credit score, she felt she didn’t know much about financial matters. Not quite true, since she understood the importance of carrying no credit card balance, finding a rewards card, and avoiding fees.

The biggest challenge was her feelings towards what she felt she didn’t know.

Goals

Path Up Mountain

First and foremost, her goal was to rebuild her credit. Seeing the current score made her upset. Beyond that, it limits opportunities that may emerge.

Accomplishing the first tied into the second: Get a good credit card. In my mind, there was no question her best bet was with a credit union. Lower rates (if necessary) and more accepting approvals drove the decision. Given where she lives, I had a good idea of where I’d suggest.

Options

You know that just signing up a member with a particular service may not be the best approach. If they don’t understand why it is their best choice, loyalty or trust won’t develop. So it was time to evaluate and discuss options.

The chosen credit union has a few different credit cards, and I gave her the opportunity to review the first two. I honestly don’t know which she would get approved to carry. The important points:

  • No annual fee (unless you get insane rewards, this is totally unnecessary)
  • Low interest rate (ongoing, not just some promo period)
  • Low minimum credit limit (better chance to get approved)
  • Possibility for rewards (incentive to use the card, helping credit score)

Knowledge

Brain

Here’s where I got into “Credit Union Geek” mode. After wondering how to apply, it was time to explain what a credit union really is. Focusing on the member-owned and not-for-profit differences from banks, her response:

“I always wondered what the true difference was. That’s awesome. That’s amazing. Makes sense why people have their accounts there versus the big [banks].”

I still believe people make decisions based on what the institution can offer them; a clean and functional app, competitive financial products, easy support if needed. However, the “credit union difference” can be the “cherry on top” for marketing efforts.

So now she knows what credit unions are, a basic history of the movement, and what that means for her. She’s sold. Now, as Tony Robbins would say, “take immediate action.”

Action

Clapper with Blurred Chalk

It’s easy to just put stuff off for another time. And then the impetus goes away. We get lazy. Other distractions emerge. To make serious changes in her financial life, she has to do at least one thing right now.

  1. Join Suncoast Credit Union. Yes, my company works with them. It’s a great relationship. Their members also seem to love them. So why not refer?
  2. Use our financial literacy platform. My company offers Learn4Saving freely to financial institutions for their members. If it can help her, perfect!
  3. Connect with Suncoast’s dedicated financial guidance counselors. They have a team trained to help with financial challenges or just answer questions.
  4. Use my “inside connections” and speak to a certain team to get started. Hey, feels special having a dedicated extension to dial when you’re just starting out!
  5. Begin “paying yourself first”. That new savings account is a good place to start.
  6. Build a basic budget. It can be simple, just something that helps you identify where money flows once it’s in your hands. Especially now, too much is unpredictable to bother getting really specific, and what value does that even add?
  7. Deal with my many puns. Somehow, this was well-received. I try not to take “credit” for my skills. And I’ll be “saving” plenty more for another article. You could even say I’m “budgeting” them for later.

I’d say step 7 is definitely the hardest.

What You Don’t Know

Book Icon

What began as a favor turned into a learning experience for me as well. I really hope it made a difference for my new acquaintance. Too many people feel stress and shame when it comes to discussing financial matters.

That’s a stigma we need to address.

It’s easy to look at someone with a low credit score and think, “well, they just don’t save or spend responsibly.” Thankfully, I know so many credit union people who understand and go deeper.

Because if you only help the people in perfect situations, are you really helping?

How Bath Mats Can Solve Your Credit Union Challenges

That’s it. All these articles, conferences (Ha! Remember those?), white papers, and trainings, and the solution was just getting bath mats.

How has no one told you this before?! The insight of a lifetime! If only it were that easy.

Where did this bath mat thing originate? Great question.

Insights From A Brewery

Our credit union chapter held an event at a local brewery. It was impressive how the community ideas mirrored between the CU folks and the beer team. You know credit unions focus on helping others. Interestingly enough, the brewery operated in the same way.

Brewer and Beer Vat

Most importantly, the brewery understood the value of addressing problems before they emerge. Which is where the bath mats come in.

Their bathrooms have blowers to reduce paper waste and keep it more tidy. Of course, what always happens under the blowers? All that water you just shook off your hands ends up on the floor. Which probably gets stepped in, spreading dirt and making the floor slippery.

That wasn’t acceptable to them. So, they preemptively solved the problem. By placing bath mats under the blowers. Go ahead, shake it off all you want. Water isn’t getting on the floor.

Back to our main premise: Bath mats were the solution. What about at your credit union?

Solving Problems Before They Happen

I shared that story to highlight an important idea: Issues don’t have to wait until someone complains to be addressed.

Look at your operation as a whole. There are a lot of moving parts. Plenty of places something can go wrong. What are you doing about it? Do you acknowledge these issues exist and fix as they show themselves? Or, do you think ahead and make quiet changes so they never happen again?

Preemptive solutions make for a smoother experience.

Look At Complaints…From Everyone

Problem and Solution Chalkboard

Members get priority. Obviously. When they have a problem, and it’s your fault, setting it right is your main concern. Once the member situation is resolved, you have completed phase 1: Solution. Now, you can move on to phase 2: Prevention.

What happened to cause that member complaint? Is there anything you can do right now so others won’t experience the same problem? Perhaps a description is worded in such a way that it can be misinterpreted. Or maybe training didn’t cover that specific scenario.

Address it now and spread that knowledge across your team. And then, progress to phase 3: Exploration.

This part is challenging but the rewards are massive: Higher member satisfaction and increased staff morale. Because solving problems your own credit union caused is less fun than helping members progress on their financial journey!

Steps to Complain, ahem, Improve

Issues Notebook
  1. Look at member complaints. Research support records (simpler if you have a unified ticket system, like Zendesk or similar). Find all the negative reviews on Facebook and Yelp. You’ve got them. The vast majority of businesses never answer. Be the exception. And then explain how you’re going to fix it.
  2. Use social media to discover members’ biggest CU frustrations. Seriously. Make it a fun contest if you want. Call it “CU Peeves” or something. Share things your own team can’t stand, then encourage members to rag on you. It’s like a roast, except you also benefit. Plus, you’ve just increased social media engagement.
    • At the end, let staff and members vote on the #1 frustration and then share how you’ve addressed it. I’m picturing banners in branches and on your website with member frustrations next to their picture (humanizing is important), alongside your solution.
    • Create a page showing how you’re making the CU better for everyone through these “small” improvements. It’s marketing, without feeling like marketing.
  3. Ask your staff. And listen. The “and” here is important. I’ve seen a lot of businesses solicit input from their employees on how to improve. It’s mostly quiet as they fear repercussions or ridicule. Or, they’re accepted, but no changes are actually made. Be open to criticism. Welcome it. Just how you did with members.
    • Your staff deals with your credit union every day. They literally know best its most annoying challenges.

Fix. Assess. Repeat.

You’ve done all these things. That’s awesome! I bet you discovered a whole lot of issues few in upper management ever realized existed. And now they’re solved for staff and members!

Blue Arrow Circle

You’re not done.

It. Never. Ends. This is a continuous process that must happen regularly. As staff, members, and technology changes, new challenges will emerge, too.

And maybe one of the things really is bath mats. See? I told you!

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