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A Year of Geek!

Can you believe it’s been a year of CU Geek? Yes? Took a bit of the excitement out of it, thanks. I’m still excited!

Last June, an idea for blabbering into the ether arose. Turns out, this is not a viable strategy for blogging, though doubtlessly the most common. There had to be a meaning, a purpose, a raison d’etat, as it were. I work with credit unions…okay, and what? Marketing, strategy, and…The Force! Geek awesomeness combined with a dose of advice for the industry. As our company has grown, more examples presented themselves to use as topics. Not to mention technology is ever-evolving. How do traditional industries like credit unions fit in a changing world?

Every week, a new post is shared with you, through mediums as varied as RSS, Twitter, LinkedIn, industry magazines, e-mail, and, I hope, word of mouth. Oh the places we have gone! Did you know writing at a certain grade level can impact readership? Or that Bluetooth versus Wi-Fi can be a metaphor for your staff organization? A guest writer (my dad!) wrote how essential it is to consider your website as another branch.

In honor of our first year, let’s go through some of the “bests”:

Most read topic: #WhatInTheWorldIsAHashtag – Thousands of views across numerous social media platforms. #Awesome While the exposure is great, most meaningful is when people from all over the world comment to say, “I get hashtags now, thank you!”

Saddest post: Tie between On the Loss of SpaceShipTwo & Logic, Intellect, and Loyalty – I learned about the crash while flying cross country, and composed that post mid-flight. As someone who looks to the stars every night, this news hit me particularly hard. Same with the passing of Leonard Nimoy. He was the face of exploration. That pointy-eared computer was my friend.

Most fun to write: Do I Have Your Attention? – You’re already distracted. Read the text on your phone, but please come back. Learning the true numbers behind engagement and comprehension (they’re inversely related, oddly enough) was a blast. It changed how we produced marketing and training materials alike.

Most contrived credit union relation: Are You Creating Members…Or Experiences? – Disney is magic. So is their customer engagement. Taking just a piece of it and incorporating into your credit union can reap huge rewards. But really, it’s all about the M-o-u-s-e!

A year. Hundreds of tweets. More than 50 posts. Thousands of credit union supporters reached. Here’s to the next 365 days!

PS – Are there topics you want to see? Let me know! And once again, thank you for your support.

@ 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.

Paralyzed By Perfect

Recent posts have approached the idea of “getting things done” from a variety of angles.  Progress with Tedium analyzed how a detailed strategy, then following those plans to the letter, might make for boring summer blockbusters, but a completed task.  Plan Well Now to Execute Later looked at MAVEN on its way to Mars.  It also realized the value of getting your spaceship’s flight path set ahead of time.  Arriving with less frustration, fewer adjustments, and more fuel makes everyone happy.  Waiting, Done Different sought to understand how Apple decides when is the right time to engage a new product segment or idea. Being first isn’t always best, and being best might mean you are last.  What’s the happy medium?  Who’s Your Imagineer and R&D…Not Just for Tech Firms combined the strategies of Disney and Apple for advice on ensuring innovation and eliminating stagnation in your processes/operations.

Whew!  That’s a lot of reading and even more planning.  Guess it’s time to set up another meeting…hold your horses!

There’s an enemy lurking, and it disguises itself so well, we might miss it even when it’s staring us down: Perfection.

You may have heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect.”  I disagree.  A more accurate, if less concise, version would be: “Perfect practice guides you on the endless journey towards perfection.”

That program, no matter how much time and teamwork you invest, will never be perfect.  Launch it.  Take feedback, positive and critical alike.  Improve.

My favorite musician, Jimmy Buffett, looked at the destruction following Hurricane Katrina.  He described the approach of residents of New Orleans, deluged emotionally and physically, with a six-word phrase: “Breathe in, breathe out, move on.”  One can argue planning failures led to much of the destruction, but on an individual basis, there they were, flooded out of their communities.  But they had each other.  It was about as far from perfect as they could get, yet still, they were pushing ahead.

We are in the midst of many credit unions’ planning periods.  Creating a strategy for a perfect 2015 is on many minds.  And it is wrong.

Create a living plan for a 2015 where you achieve specific goals.  No amount of planning will make perfection, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you…ah, well, you know the rest.

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