Seven Reasons to Play

If your CU decides to have a social media presence, get used to a lack of control.

April 09, 2013
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One of our executives bought Facebook stock right after its initial public offering.

He stops by my office periodically to complain about how his stock has dropped faster than a bad facelift. He recently stopped by with a question: If a company with nearly one billion users can’t make it, how can we?

He has a point. Social media marketing has been the bane of many organizations. Every day, more credit unions become disillusioned with what promised to be the new way of reaching members and nonmembers.

But there must be significant attraction to social media if 69% of U.S. adults use it on a regular basis, ac-cording to the Pew Research Center. It’s this big number that keeps marketing folks engaged.

One of the biggest challenges of social media is to prove its worth to those in the C-suite. My marketing department provided me with these seven reasons for using social media:

1. “Look at the huge number of Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter ‘followers.’ ” Who cares if the majority of them aren’t only nonmembers, but are from a distant foreign country—like “Montana”?  (And if you find yourself coming up short, just spring some cash loose and buy them through sites like

2. “It’s YOUR voice.” When competing with the likes of CNN or TMZ, you need great, engaging con-tent—just not on your budget. In fact, many CEOs will insist that social media responsibilities be delegated to the youngest new-hire because, in their words, young people are the ones who can do it “economically,” and perhaps incoherently. Even worse: Some CEOs decide to do it themselves, which results in an experience as exciting as watching a tree grow its annual ring. 

3. “Why not, it’s free!” Marketing staff remind me that it’s free, just like “free checking.” And put an asterisk after it with something like: *Does not include software tools, marketing salaries, compliance costs, and free-lance design.

4. “It’s so popular WE ban it!”  While we come out with articles and offers on Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, our technology guardians block Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare for our own employees. You don’t want them wasting time knowing what’s happening, do you?

5. “It’s just like anything else we print.” That’s because we take all material and make sure a large committee of accountants, compliance officers, and lawyers approves it. Nothing says “friendly” or “local” like a short marketing slogan followed by a six-sentence disclaimer.

6. “Everyone else is doing it.” Unless they just quit, that is.

7. “We need to control social media, lest it control us.” 

This last item is probably the biggest reason many organizations get nervous at the prospect of social media.

They fear it. The fact that someone can post something about your credit union, totally lacking context or explanation, makes marketing managers as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. 

But, they’re wrong. Not because someone can (and will) post negative, incorrect information. Rather, it’s because they believe they can influence the posts.

We’ve all heard of organizations that delete negative or snarky Facebook entries in the name of damage control, all while lauding their own social media openness. No wonder Facebook posts can get so snarky.

In summary, here are my two golden rules of social media:

1. Play nice. Apologize profusely. Be positive. Educate. Don’t advertise.

2. And, before it’s completely worthless, sell your Facebook stock!





JAMES COLLINS is president/CEO at O Bee CU, Tumwater, Wash., and Credit Union Magazine's humor columnist. Contact him at 360-943-0740.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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