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Entries in Social media (5)


Using Twitter in Disaster Recovery

By Jim Benlein, CISA, CISM

Simple. Direct. Effective. Fast. If asked, many credit unions will point to these as key reasons they use Twitter to connect and communicate with members. The fact that Twitter is simple, direct, effective and fast also points to why some CUs are using it to communicate with their employees and have included Twitter as a connection point for employees in their business continuity plans.

Twitter provides options to create private (protected) accounts/tweets. With a protected/private account, only approved subscribers receive (e.g. can view) tweets, and re-tweets are limited. Using these tools, your credit union can create a Twitter account specifically tied to its continuity plan to provide employees with updates on important information.

The content of tweets during a disaster would depend on the nature of the incident, but could include meeting reminders; information on relocation or rally points; and status updates on recovery efforts. As with member Twitter communications, the credit union should develop a communication plan detailing the whats and whens of the tweets that will be sent during a disaster.

Because tweets may contain sensitive or confidential information on operations during a disaster, the credit union needs an individual to keep up-to-date subscriber (employee) information (e.g., adding/removing employees who will get disaster recovery tweets and validating/updating contact info). Depending on the credit union’s size and staffing, this could be the same or a different person from the one responsible for actually sending tweets. The person sending tweets should be a designated member of the CU’s incident response or business continuity team.

As with many things “social,” the credit union should work with employees to create separate accounts for access to the credit union’s disaster recovery Twitter feed. Twitter allows you to maintain separate accounts, so employees can keep their personal Twitter account separate.

When sending Tweets, a credit union needs to remember that while the use of a protected list limits the authorized recipients of tweets, it doesn’t completely protect against unauthorized viewing of those tweets. It’s not impossible to “hack” access to someone’s account or view their tweets over their shoulder. Because of this, the CU should be careful of the information it sends--and how it sends it. For example, I'd prefer this tweet: “…Due to the recent incident, alarm codes have been reset…” over this one: “Due to the recent incident, alarm codes have been reset to 1793 …”

As the ongoing hijacks of Twitter accounts have shown, a credit union needs to secure administrative logins and passwords for the Twitter account. The CU should implement and use Twitter's newly available two-factor login authentication system (for this and all official CU Twitter feeds).

To determine how well using Twitter for employees may work at your CU, consider a pilot program with a limited number of employees. You won't be sending incident-specific tweets, but you can send helpful information as part of the test. Every once in a while, send a question requiring a response, such as "When you read this, call John in IT." If your pilot program shows employees are viewing and responding to tweeted information, you can work on adding a Twitter feed to the employee contact and communication aspect of your incident response/business continuity plan.

Jim Benlein, CISA, CISM, is the owner of KGS Consulting, LLC. KGS Consulting provides policy and practice consulting and auditing services on information technology governance and information security for CUs.

Read more posts by Benlein. And this post, too: "A Seasonal Look at Business Continuity Plans."

Read Tech Time columns by Benlein on


The Gift of Social is in the Doing

By Mike Lawson

A few weeks ago, I started writing my monthly “Inside Marketing” column for CU Management on Vine, the latest cool social media app that lets you add six-second looping videos to your tweets. This tool offers many video marketing opportunities credit unions can leverage and, eventually, I did write the column. But in the process, I realized I’m almost burned out on talking about the new, whiz-bang, wow-ness of the latest social media tools. I mean, does it ever stop? This social media stuff can be exhausting. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong; I think social media as a whole is fantastic in sparking a two-way conversation with your members. It’s revolutionary in this respect. And I will always be a champion for this message. But the tools, tools and more tools piling up have become overwhelming. One can be mired for months on what to use.

Look at this infographic from marketing expert Brian Solis (“The Conversation Prism”) on the many, many, many tools social media presents.

If social media were a highway, its ever-growing collection of tools would clog every lane beyond rush hour-–along with the endless on ramp of new apps inching forward into the slow lane. There’s so much incoming activity, it’s almost stifling.

You’re on Facebook, you’re on Twitter, you’re blogging, you’re on LinkedIn, and you’re checking out how fun it is to have a YouTube channel. How can one possibly fit anything more into their day? Oh yeah, you have to keep up with the traditional marketing practices that still actually work, too.

When I do speaking engagements on the benefits of social media, what I get from the audience after discussing how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube can benefit a credit union’s exposure to consumers and enhance it with established members is a look of the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. No wonder many credit unions still aren’t embracing social media; it’s a daunting flood of new responsibilities–-and it keeps growing. Time is the biggest enemy of any social media effort. Keeping it in check is the challenge.

What sparked my recent thoughts on this “social media tools meltdown” was a recent post from marketing expert Chris Brogan, who spoke on social media at last year’s America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego. He is somebody who has obviously embraced social media for years and who writes and speaks about it prevalently. But his most recent write-up (“I’m Not Into Social Media”) was the opposite–-kind of. He, too, is tired of the constant flow of new tools overcrowding the market.

What Brogan’s remarks focused on was refocusing:

“…I guess what isn’t as worth talking about any longer is the whole ‘gee whiz, this space is so amazing and I’ve got the latest apps and I love using them.’ Maybe instead, we can talk about our goals, our pursuits, those things we’re going to do with the tools.”

I went on to read many of the comments from Brogan’s post, and the commenters, too, agreed that the tool frenzy social media has fostered has gotten to be too much. When do you stop talking about the tools and actually build the building? Nearly all the comments focused on telling a bigger story on how social media has played a part in benefiting their marketing success–-a successful user experience, if you will.

One of the comments has absolutely nothing to do with credit unions, but displays a solid user success story. It expresses this last statement:

 “I used to mentor local business owners new to social. When my husband gifted me a batch of homemade soap he made in our kitchen, we knew he was on to something. We used social, specifically YouTube, and taught ourselves how to make traditional lye soap. Lots of it. Now just 1 year later we have a very successful small business making old school bar soap, shampoo bars, shave bars, mostly skincare travel items for adventurous types. We took on yet another wholesale client last night because of social. We used online tools to not only learn the craft, bootstrap DIY if you will, but to share our stories. Facebook groups allow us to brainstorm with other soap making hobbyists and industry leaders. The gift of social is in the doing.”

This last sentence stuck with me: “The gift of social is in the doing.” If we spent less time talking and more time doing, then we would probably have more success stories to tell. This is where credit unions can exceed because money touches all our lives in one way or another–-and credit unions are sitting on a mountain range of member success stories.

Like many other channels, social media used properly is a potent means of sharing your success stories because of social’s immediacy, viral-ness, and two-way communication.

Another comment focused on not glomming on to every new social media tool that comes along, but rather focusing on a couple and using them very well. This philosophy is spot on and defeats the whole time barrier that social media folks fight daily. It, instead, helps them focus on Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or whatever, and using them to their fullest potential.

What are your social media priorities? What are you using social media to do?

Mike Lawson, principal of the PR/marketing firm DML Communications has two decades of journalism, public relations and marketing experience. His unique and robust knowledge allows him to meet the varied needs of editors, end-users and clients. Lawson's expertise enables him to enhance his clients' market exposure through media relations, social media tools, advertising efforts, target marketing strategies and more. He also speaks on PR, marketing and media issues to audiences nationwide.

Read more Inside Marketing columns by Mike Lawson. 

Attend the CUES School of Strategic Marketing.


'CU Man' Visit a Highlight of Greater Southern Council Meeting

By Tammy Douglass

CU Man facilitates a question-and-answer session with Kristin Christian, founder of Bank Transfer Day.

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Credit Union Man!

This masked marvel visited a recent meeting of the Greater Southern Council of CUES, and helped to facilitate a question-and-answer session with Kristin Christian, founder of Bank Transfer Day.

CU Man, a.ka. Fred Brown, marketing director for $73 million Northeast Family Federal Credit Union, Manchester, Conn., also conducted a CU trivia session, for which I won a CU Man T-shirt for knowing who Raiffeisen was! (He pioneered credit unions in rural Germany in the 1800s.)

The theme for the Greater Southern Council's fall meeting was delivering service excellence via Web, branch, mobile and call center. There were 45 in attendance, primarily from Tennessee and Kentucky, with one member coming all the way from Atlanta.

In addition to Christian's session, Greater Southern Council attendees heard from consultant Brett Wooden about how tablets and smartphones are transforming member service. Wooden was previously business development manager with $915 million Unitus Community Credit Union, Portland, Ore., and was a participant in the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge in 2010. 

They also heard from Bruce Ulrich about how to use social media in credit union marketing. A CUES Executive Group member, Ulrich is a 31-year-old marketing director with $90 million Statewide Federal Credit Union in Flowood, Miss., and was a participant in CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge this year.

The council also tweeted events from the meeting on is own feed! I was so glad to be able to take part in this fantastic meeting, a great example of the way the regional CUES Councils bring professional development to credit union executives right in their back yards.

Tammy Douglass is CUES' director of member relations, southeast.

Learn more about CUES Councils and find out about a meeting near you.


Fired for Facebook?

By Theresa Witham

Last year, when I read (and then wrote) about a case involving an employee fired for something she put on her Facebook page, I was surprised at the outcome.

As I explain in the HR Answers: Facebook Firing column, a Connecticut ambulance service employee was fired for posting negative comments about a supervisor on her Facebook page. But a complaint by the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office resulted in the company settling. The reason: Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees may discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others.

The company agreed to revise its overly broad rules to ensure it do not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work. 

This seems to have major implications for social media policies. And it got me thinking about a topic I’ve pondered for a long time.

Are social media policies that require employees to present themselves on line--even during non-working hours and for non-business purposes--in a manner that does not reflect poorly on the business too restrictive?

I started thinking about the topic again after reading two recent Credit Union Management magazine articles that examine companies’ use of social media in relation to its employees and potential employees.

In “Background Checks: Proceed carefully when looking into candidates’ histories,” the author discusses the disturbing practice of some employers asking for social media logins during the hiring process. That’s right, a few companies (enough that some states are legislating against the practice) have asked interviewees for their Facebook and other social media logins. Not only does this seem to be an incredible privacy violation, but it also seems like it would put the company in the dangerous position of knowing details about a person, such as race, religion, etc., that cannot be used to make a hiring decision.

A second article “Social Recruitment: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are useful tools for finding new employees, but be cautious,” includes tips from two credit unions that have found recruiting success in social media. Again, the article cautions readers to be careful what they look for in candidates’ public profiles and to be careful not to damage the CU’s brand while socially recruiting.

As I edited these articles, I returned to the idea that participating in social media is like living in a small town.

Lots of employers get a bit freaked out about what their employees are doing on social media. I suppose it’s easier when you don’t have to know if co-workers got really drunk on Friday night or liked a funny, but definitely not safe for work, Saturday Night Live skit on Saturday.

But what do employers in small towns do when an employee makes a drunken scene at the local bar on a Friday night? What about when a job applicant arrives for an interview in a car with a political bumper sticker?

Most of us have grown accustomed to having a work persona that is just a bit blander than our real selves. Navigating between the work Theresa and the real Theresa can be tricky at times on Facebook. I don’t talk too much about politics or religion or anything more controversial than how great my new hand-knit socks are.

However, not everyone puts their bland face forward and thank goodness--otherwise social media would be boring!

How do you--and your credit unions--find the right balance on social media? 

Theresa Witham is a CUES editor.


Pinterest and Credit Unions

By Theresa Witham

Suddenly, it seems, social bookmarking site Pinterest is everywhere. People are chatting about how companies can use the site. It even has a copycat competitor.

I signed up on the site about a year ago and I’ve been a fan since. I was attracted to the visual aspect of it. Pinterest is like an online bulletin board where you “pin” images. Most users have several boards by topic. For example, I have a “Yum” board for food to make, a “Create” board for crafts to try, gift boards for my husband and son, and so on.

While browsing the Internet, if I come across something I want to reference later, I add it to one of my Pinterest boards. While there are lots of bookmarking websites out there, Pinterest is strictly visual; you can only “pin” images. That really appeals to me. When I want to cook something new, I’d rather see a page of images than a page of text. The images then link back to the original webpage.

The social part comes by following other people’s boards and seeing what they “pin.” A quick peek at the site in the morning might give me five ideas for future dinner menus or present a truly excellent organizational or cleaning tip. The top categories of things I see on Pinterest are: food and recipes, travel destinations, clothing/makeup/shoes, crafts, home design and remodels, exercise and other general “better living” tips.

The site has been rapidly growing. Here are some demographics from the Ignite Social Media Blog:

  • The site has 4 million users.
  • 1.5 unique visitors daily spend 14 minutes on the site.
  • 30 percent of users are 25-34 years old.
  • 25 percent are 35-44.
  • 69 percent have an income between $25,000 and $75,000.
  • A huge majority (80 percent) of users are women.

So what does all of this mean to credit unions? Some companies, especially retailers, are able to leverage the popularity of the site. While credit unions are not selling watches and dresses, they do have content that could be shared on Pinterest.

Why couldn’t a credit union set up a home equity ideas board and pin images of great looking kitchens, or a lovely pool? You could also pin images of your marketing materials that would link back to your website. You could pin pictures of cars at the local dealer where you do indirect lending and promote an auto loan product.

A budgeting/money management board would be a great place to start. Do you have a newsletter with helpful articles? Pin it! If you are already linking to money management articles around the Web via your Twitter account, why not pin those articles on Pinterest, too? Since lots of people's pins tend to be of the fantasy or someday variety (someday, I’ll go to Maui; someday, I’ll buy these $500 shoes; someday, my kitchen will look like this), tips and tools (including the possibility of a small credit union loan) for actually getting to Maui would be awesome.

You could promote your Pinterest account in all the usual ways: in your newsletter, emails and, of course, on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Pinterest is easily connected to Facebook and Twitter, making it very simple for credit unions who already use those sites.

What other ways can credit unions use Pinterest?

Theresa Witham is a CUES editor.