Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: e-mail

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…

Ransomware. What is it and should you be concerned?

If you’ve been keeping an eye on cybersecurity or computer safety news lately, there is a good chance the term ransomware has crossed your vision. So we’ve got phishing (not the band), malware, viruses, worms, and now ransomware?

First, the primer: Ransomware is a form of malware, which in some circles is also considered a virus. Still confused? So am I.

Primer, even more basic version: Ransomware locks your computer unless you pay some bad guy.

Less basic primer: Ransomware is computer code which, once on your system, makes it so that you can’t access any of your files. The creator gives you an option to get the key, or program to unlock all your files, for a fee. This fee goes up the longer you wait, making it no less than a ransom demand. Hence, malware which asks for a ransom: Ransomware.

Who would do such a thing? There’s always people looking to cause mayhem and make a buck as a result. Some of them also happen to be skilled in computer programming. Sure, they’d serve the world better by designing code to help reduce poverty or hunger, but, crime is often easier.

Are you vulnerable to ransomware? Yes. Any computer, which, in a chain of connections, has a link to the Internet, can be infected. Yeah, it can spread from one computer to another in your network on its own. Then it deletes your backups. Even having all security updates installed isn’t enough (Macs tend to block them within 24 hours of discovery). Is no one safe?

How do you get ransomware? One of the more common ways is through an “evil” Word document. You think it’s an executive letter, invoice, or timetable, and you open the e-mail attachment. For you to get infected, Word then prompts that the file has a macro and asks if you’d like to run it. You, thinking it’s an essential aspect of the file, say yes (It bothers me that Office programs don’t display the file before this prompt). And your day just got really bad. Even NAFCU is warning credit unions about this infection strategy.

What can you do to avoid ransomware? The old computer security strategies hold true:

  • Don’t open e-mails from addresses you don’t recognize. If you do, definitely don’t open attachments in those messages. Also, ensure that HTML content isn’t set to automatically load when reading the message (Steps for Outlook 2010/2013, OS X Mail, iOS Mail).
  • When opening Office documents from those you know, always defer to No if it asks to run macros. If the file seems to need it, ask the sender to confirm.
  • If an e-mail file extension isn’t what you think it should be (JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD for images, as an example), ask the sender to confirm.
  • Ensure all computers within your workplace are current in security updates. And not just for the operating system, but software programs installed, too.
  • Avoid visiting questionable websites, but if you must, use an archaic computer (too old to be infected) or an obscure operating system (ie. BeOS).
    • On second thought, just avoid the suspicious sites. You can also check a reputation monitoring service like Web of Trust prior to visiting.
  • Be extremely careful when using USB drives to transfer data to more secure (ie. non-connected or connected with member data) computers.
  • Train your staff on computer safety…regularly. We can all get fooled. You know those, “A lost Saudi prince wants to share their $400,000,000 with you” e-mails? You still get them because people still fall for them.
  • If your password is “password” or “12345”, change it right now. I’ll wait.
  • Use common sense. If something seems off, your instincts are probably right.

As mentioned in the above article, one ransomware developer brought in a confirmed $45,000 after only 3 weeks of infections. It’s big business and is only going to grow further. Knowledge is power and sharing this information with your members can help them avoid costly headaches as well.

Image credit: http://hackwhiz.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/encryption-img.png

@ Isn’t Just For E-mail!

A month back, we took on the mysterious hashtag, #. Case closed. You’ve got that character down. Was it you who shared, “Tuesday our #creditunion branch served 300 members. Before lunch! #nowimhungry”?

There is another mysterious symbol hiding in plain sight. You know it as the thing in e-mails. Yes, the @. Fun fact: It has no formal name in the English language. “At sign” is the closest we have to an official reference. Spanish speakers recognize “arroba” to describe it.

It’s for more than e-mails? Yes, and it also drives all of us nuts when we have to write one on paper. It’s the (arguably) more important companion of the hashtag. Don’t tell, though. It’ll be #reallyupset.

While the hashtag identifies and unifies phrases or comments, the @ unifies people. When you put one of these little guys in front of someone’s username, it becomes a “mention”. That user then gets notified of your post. Say I shared on Twitter (tweeted): “@CUNA, great work in representing Credit Union interests nationwide!” The manager of CUNA’s Twitter account would receive a notification of my post, and they could then reply publicly by writing “@JoeCUGeek” (my Twitter handle) in their post.

All compatible services (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and many more) behave similarly. You can also make more than one mention in a post: “This #CUNAGAC is so much fun. Thank you @CUNA and @trustdotcoop for your efforts in making this possible.” Both accounts will receive a notification. Typically, public replies put the username at the beginning, while generically talking about them can be anywhere.

So you’ve got hashtags and mentions. All you need is the content! The best way to understand how these are used is to get on social media and observe, then try yourself! I always enjoy carrying a small conversation with credit unions and others over quality posts. Want to learn more? Get in touch directly @JoeCUGeek on Twitter and we’ll apply our skills together!

5/5/15 – Correction: A previous version of this post referenced and linked to an incorrect Twitter address.

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