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20 posts categorized "social media"

September 12, 2013

Introvert Media - What "Private" Social Networks Tell Us About the Future of Online Sharing


by Ron Daly

It used to be that social media was all anyone talked about in business. "How do you use it? How can you grow an audience? Who should we hire to make it happen?"

With social media came a slew of new issues: people sharing photographs of their credit cards on Twitter (that account still exists, but the heck if I'M going to link to it); people sharing account information of every kind with newly-formed social phishing accounts; employees "over-sharing" or, in some cases, taking pictures of members' feet. And then, there's the marketing component. If there's a new medium out there, there must be some way to work in ads and direct sales/customer support, right? 

I don't know if that's true with the offspring of social media - introvert media.

Now, I know - there are nuances to what makes an introvert and an extrovert. I've been around a Myers-Briggs test before - I got a B+ (that's a joke, for any uptight psychologists reading this). But if social media is a more ideal environment for extroverts (lots of sharing, big crowds a must, plenty of feedback) then this new wave of private, shut-off social networks has got to be a big blessing for introverts (small crowds, not a lot of hubbub, not "open").

Take Snapchat, for instance. If you've never come across Snapchat before, ask your local teenager about it - they're likely to have it on their smartphone and use it to send pictures of God-knows-what to their friends. The idea behind Snapchat is pretty simple - take a picture, share with a friend, and a few seconds after they open it, the picture is deleted from their phone and from yours. Snapchat's programmers swear they can't see the pictures and that any attempt to screen-grab shared pictures alerts the photographer that the recipient tried to save the image. The entire point of Snapchat, according to their website, is to "share a moment". Users take pictures, send them to other users, and the pictures vanish. All that remains - at least according to Snapchat's privacy policy - is the memory.

Celly, a service that sends out mass text messages to registered users and is entirely closed off to advertisers and outsiders, is a favorite of plenty of people who are looking to stay in touch...from school systems to small businesses to protest groups. Similar functionality, but built for very small groups with phone access. The app now processes 550 million texts every month to members in 20,000 different groups. It's got nothing on Twitter's size...but it's not supposed to.

Want a better way to talk to your neighbors without having know, actually talk to them? Nextdoor is Facebook for your block association. Users have to register their home addresses and verify they actually live in the community. It's a social network that's only a few "yards" wide.

I went poking around, trying to find an introvert network for people who want to better manage their finances. But let's face it, if you're managing your household's finances, you only want a few people involved in the discussion. Where does it start? What does a network that facilitates private, productive discussions about money look like? Who gets an invite? 

We've wrestled with this a lot in the creation and further development of My Virtual StrongBox. Forget about storage services that sit on your desktop and gobble up your many files and documents for sharing. My Virtual StrongBox is just for you and keeps your information safe and sound behind your online banking. Sure, you can share things with people (with a link that expires after a certain time/number of clicks), and they can send documents to your box if you need them to. But it's not meant to be a catchall - it's meant to be a private place. With all the movement toward introvert media, we see a growing need (as does Barclays, by the way) to present options that keep communications - and communicators - private.

In a world that's getting used to sharing everything, the real show-stoppers will be those that can keep a secret.

Are you getting into "Introvert Media"? Tell us about it in the comments.

January 04, 2013

The First "Duh of the Week" of 2013 is One for the Record Books


by Ron Daly 

Ever bite down on your tongue while you're eating a lemon? It's a double-whammy of pain. There's the acidic burn of the lemon juice and the "yow that smarts" of cutting your tongue with your teeth. The thought of it is enough to make you wince. 

It's one of those blunders that you could have avoided in a few different ways. For one, stop eating lemons, you weirdo. For two, chew more thoroughly. You've got no one to blame but yourself. 

The first "Duh of the Week" has a lot in common with this twofer of pain - it's something that could have been avoided and it's easily the stupidest combination of dumb ideas I've ever heard.

A Portland-area teen...

  1. drove home drunk from New Year's Eve, then 
  2. told everyone about it on Facebook.

What a dumb move. For starters, he drives home drunk (under-aged, mind you), hitting TWO PARKED CARS in the process. As if that wasn't enough of a bonehead move, he POSTED ABOUT IT ON FACEBOOK, complete with a little winky-face emoticon. 

If you have young people in your home, now's the time to have "the talk" with them.

  • Sit them down. 
  • Tell them you love them. 
  • Explain that if they need a ride, you'll come get them, no matter the situation.
  • Tell them they should never ride in a car with a drunk driver.

    And lastly...
  • Gently remind them how hard you're going to kick their butt if they ever do something this idiotic. 
Drunk driving kills people, and when it doesn't, it can cause untold damage of another kind. The last thing your kids should ever want to do is drink and drive, and the second-to-last thing they should ever want to do is brag about it on a social network

Kudos to the thoughtful Facebook followers who informed the police and got him booked for his idiotic crime. Maybe now, he'll be sending a status update: 

"In jail :( Not as fun as I though it would be..."

Are your employees behaving resposibly on social media? Is the person in charge of your Facebook account making the right decisions?  How sure can you be about all that? Time to start that long-awaited social media policy, maybe? Maybe employees can use "the talk", too.

Comments always welcome. Happy 2013 to everyone!

August 22, 2012

GUEST POST: The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up


by Jimmy Marks


[Ron Daly is on vacation, so Jimmy is here to share his thoughts on the aggressive, obsessive, invasive method of post-sale satisfaction some people think of as "follow-up".]

I don't normally go in for memes. Some of them are funny, but usually, they get all the "juice" squeezed out of them a few days after they first appear. I don't think I need one more "Call Me Maybe" parody, ever. Matter of fact, I don't think I want to hear "Call Me Maybe" anymore, full stop. 

But "Overly Attached Girlfriend" was really funny. This creepy, bug-eyed caricature of an obsessed stalker (A young lady named Laina Walker who did this as a joke) took over the Internet for a few weeks and gave birth to a few "splinter-memes" and follow-ups. 

We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances. 

Or, in some cases, marketers.

Too often, marketers will create "follow-up" campaigns with no end-date in sight. You go to get your oil changed and the service center calls the next day to make sure everything went well. Thoughtful, right? But then, they send an email. Then, they send a message from the manager. Then, they send you pictures of the inside of your kitchen. What?! How'd they get in there?

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it is annoying to be unrelentingly thanked by a company and begged for more business. Even worse, getting an email that says "Where have you been? We've missed you." It's just plain creepy. Why should my dry-cleaner care what I'm doing? 

I'm not the only one that thinks so. Take this article from Target Marketing titled "Famous Last Words: 'Stop Touching Me!'":

I don't know when various follow-ups came into the picture—the tracking number and the shipping advice from UPS. But I don't mind these "touches" from a supplier. When I order special dog food from for my 15-year-old Auggie or hulled sunflower seeds for my winter bird feeder from, I am comforted to know that my little four-legged and feathered friends will definitely be seen to in a timely manner.

These purveyors want me to know that they really, really care, and I appreciate that...


What you do not want is for your customers and prospects to be so fed up with your intrusions that they...tell their friends what a pain in the *** you are and put you into their spam filters.

So, how do you know when you've "cared enough"? I think this article hits it right on the head - only contact people when you have something interesting or pertinent to say. "Just saying hi" is something your great aunt does when she calls you on the phone. Don't disappear from the consumer's field of vision, but as in all things, know your audience and have something relevant and useful to offer. Make every contact with a purpose in mind and always, always, always, make it meaningful for the member. 

Onboarding campaigns have helped many of DigitalMailer's clients. It's a simple, smart way to get people involved with the credit union, a "crash course" in the basics of the new member's relationship. But an onboarding campaign doesn't go on for more than a few emails in the span of a few weeks. After that, contacts should be occasional, and with purpose. 

Now, you're going to deal with a few people that don't want any email at all and a few that want an email every day. There are ways to meet both of those needs. If you do your job correctly, you'll only be sending people things that are relevant, useful, and welcome. 

Don't be the "Overly Attached Marketer" - let the member breathe. Use those points of contact wisely and don't overdo it. 

May 01, 2012

Still don't have a social media policy? Bet you'll write one after this...


by Ron Daly 

Yeah, I know. You're tired of getting poked and prodded and constantly reminded that you need to hurry up and implement your social media policy. After all, you don't even use Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Pinterest or FourSquare or...whatever else there is. How important could it all be? 

What if an employee was shooting videos of your member's feet? 

You balk. That's ridiculous, you're thinking. What kind of person would go around shooting videos of people's feet

A credit union employee, that's who. From the Financial Brand:

The Financial Brand first learned about this series of shocking and offensive videos when one popped up on an automated Google Alert for “credit union” + “YouTube.” Someone under the YouTube handle marajohn1123 had posted an odd video of a female credit union co-worker’s toes. When a similar Google Alert was triggered for another video, this time of a member’s toes, it was clear that a credit union somewhere had a serious problem with a serial voyeur.

Presently, there are over 100 videos of women’s feet, all shot spycam style without the knowledge and approval of the victim. Based on information revealed in the videos, the videos were likely shot in and around a suburb of Atlantic City.

The credit union employee appears to be a loan officer or similar member service rep, but that doesn’t stop him from leaving his desk to film members’ toes at the branch ATM.

This is a gross abuse of trust. The emphasis in that last passage is mine - Jeffry Pilcher did a little detective work around which credit union might be employing this voyeur. He's narrowed it down to a few possible places. I'm hoping at least one employee there has the intelligence to figure out who this might be and bring this to the attention of the management. Because where does it stop? 

Think about it for a minute. Most of the videos in that story appear to be shot on a smart phone. What happens when it's not feet they're recording, but credit card and debit numbers? Checking account numbers and balances? Still not seeing a problem? 

I don't want to dismiss what's being done here - taking video of someone without their knowledge is wrong. Add to that the fact that these are being used to feed a fetish (one assumes), you're talking about not only a breach of trust, but serious damage to the CU's reputation. This employee should be fired, full stop. 

"On what grounds?", you ask. 

And THAT'S why you need a social media policy. Now. Today. 

As Jeffry said in a comment further down on this same post

If you don’t have one yet, this kind of situation should illustrate the gravity of need. If an employee posted something that you wouldn’t want on social channels — not necessarily stuff as bad/potentially illegal as what Marcus did, but bad just the same — a social media policy can give your organization the legal leverage you need to deal with the problem swiftly and without complications.

But where to begin? This article from Credit Union Magazine is a great resource to get you started. Their list of best practices covers a lot of ground. 

  • Define social media usage expectations clearly in your policy;
  • State that employees may only access social websites consistent with the credit union’s security protocols (i.e., they may not circumvent information technology security protocols);
  • Educate staff on the risks of exposing confidential information about their employer, other employees, volunteers, and members;
  • Monitor social media use via credit union resources;
  • Outline expectations for reporting policy violations;
  • Enforce policy violations in a nondiscriminatory manner;
  • State that retaliation for reporting violations is not tolerated; and
  • Define personal off-duty use of social media. For example, supervisors should not “friend” their direct reports due to the potential sharing of personal information.

A word on the "monitor" part of that equation - the employee who was shooting these videos was, as I said above, most likely doing this via smart phone. That doesn't use the credit union's data network - that's technically external use. If you aren't watching out for threats internally and externally, you're doing yourself - and the members who might be at risk - a disservice. 

Click here to sign up for a free webinar on social media monitoring.

April 13, 2012

The "Duh of the Week": I got my old camera...


by Ron Daly 

This week, Facebook bought Instagram, the photo-taking-and-filtering service that's now available for iOS and Android, for one billion dollars.

If you're a more visual learner, that's $1,000,000,000. For those of you who need a point of reference, that's half of the total value of Kodak's entire patent portfolio (according to this, anyway). The company that spent the 20th century making photography accessible to the masses is bankrupt; the nerds who created an app that makes pictures look like they did in the 60s and 70s just hit the mother load. 

Is it fair? Nope. It's business.

The "Duh of the Week" goes to everyone who says Instagram isn't worth the cool billion they just made. Because as a very wise person once said, "it's worth whatever you can get for it." Is it a decision Facebook will end up regretting? I don't think so, Facebook is almost entirely about sharing pictures with other users. Don't believe me? Facebook takes 100 million uploads every day,according to these figures...and those are a little dated.

But why wouldn't they buy a service that allows people to take, modify and post pictures on the go? They've never really had their own "camera app" (that I know of), so Instagram is just filling a hole. It's smart on Zuckerberg's part, how well the Instagram community will respond is another matter. 

For what it's worth? I've got my old Kodak 35mm here...any takers? 


April 05, 2012

The Worst Part of "Data"


by Ron Daly 

The era of social media has changed many aspects of our daily lives. We don't wait for news to happen, it happens and we're sent our own little headline to read and link to click. We don't wait for emails from family, they broadcast what they've been doing and we just observe as an audience. You don't have to work that hard to be a stalker...heck, all the hard work's done for you.

I read this article on Cult of Mac about an app called "Girls Around Me", at one time available on the App Store (now removed), that could show anyone using the app where girls (or guys) were in their area on a Google Map. Not only could you see images of the "girls" in your area, you could see their personal details. You could even track their movements.

I was disgusted...certainly, as a father, but even as a human being. These girls were being tagged - if you wanted to, you could walk up behind one and call her by name. 

Is this what we want? 

Troubling thing is, these girls didn't seem to know they were doing anything "wrong"...they were just checking into locations and updating their Facebook profiles. 

Read this section of the article, where the author was asked by a friend how this app could be sold on the App Store. 

...I replied that as sleazy as this app seemed, Girls Around Me wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Sure, on the surface, it looks like a hook-up app like Grindr for potential stalkers and date rapists, but all that Girls Around Me is really doing is using public APIs from Google Maps, Facebook and Foursquare and mashing them all up together, so you could see who had checked-in at locations in your area, and learn more about them. Moreover, the girls (and men!) shown in Girls Around Me all had the power to opt out of this information being visible to strangers, but whether out of ignorance, apathy or laziness, they had all neglected to do so. This was all public information. Nothing Girls Around Me does violates any of Apple’s policies.

You see, it's all just data. Yes, it's personal. Yes, it's revealing. Yes, in the wrong hands, at the wrong moment, it could be dangerous, even deadly. But on the most basic level, it's just data. Facts and statements, numbers and figures. Separately,  they don't seem like much:

"I went to the laundromat today."

"I just became the mayor of the Fro-Yo place."

"I dumped Josh, so I'm single again." 

Put them all together, you get a pattern. Look at a pattern long enough, you begin to see ways to exploit it. 

A few weeks back, we brought up the story of a teenager whose parents figured out she was pregnant after she got baby coupons from Target. Our solution? A little more humanity in an automated process. But all of this data comes from behavior. The girl with the coupons? She bought a certain set of products Target had flagged as products purchased by pregnant women. The girls on "Girls Around Me"? They were posting updates and "checking in" to locations. They were all behaving a certain way and leaving an easy-to-follow pattern. What's the solution? Make people behave differently? Or, more simply, teach people how to self-select their level of privacy?

The same website (Cult of Mac, which for Mac-minded people is a very good read week-to-week) came up with a guide to stopping this kind of data output on your Facebook and Foursquare accounts. Give it a could be very helpful. 


March 01, 2012

Dealing with Upset Members via Social Networks: One Rule to Rule Them All


by Ron Daly 

One of the biggest arguments for social media that every "social media expert" of the past three years presented was the idea that you could deal with customer complaints via Twitter, Facebook, etc. 

As we've all learned recently, there aren't a lot of people complaining directly to credit unions OR banks about their bad experiences, and when they do seek out their FI, it's usually moved from social media to some other channel that's more conducive to problem-solving (read about it here). 

So, for smaller CUs and banks, complaining customers aren't the biggest threat - it's silence. It's the larger banks and CUs that are going to get noise in the channel. And what then? What are the steps for dealing with an issue via a social network? 

I think this list from Social Media Examiner is pretty helpful, especially their "rule 1": 

You Can’t Respond to Conversations You Don’t See

Now, before we dig into this, let's clear the air - no, there aren't a lot of people out there that talk about their credit union via social media, positively or negatively. Not a LOT. But there are some. Depends on the situation. 

From my own anecdotal research, the Facebook and Twitter accounts of very engaged, community focused credit unions are fairly busy and have plenty of traffic and regular postings by members. Some are happy, some aren't. Some CUs reply to their followers/friends, some don't. But at least someone, somewhere inside that organization, is aware of the situation. 

What happens next is up to the organization and the expectations they've set of their social media manager. Let's work it out: 

  1. A compliment comes in -- Great! Pat yourself on the back or pass the good word along to the proper person in the organization. 
  2. A complaint comes in -- Here's where the difficult part comes in. Is this person a member? Does their complaint deal with customer service, an account issue, or an IT issue? Are they using foul language? Are they just trying to get a rise out of you? Take a breath, then proceed. Oh, and if they're using swears or harmful language, delete their post and politely point them to your policy regarding conduct. Don't have that? Go whip one up with compliance and legal. It's not unreasonable, it's your brand integrity you're protecting. 
  3. A complaint comes in about service -- Contact the member privately to get the specifics. Then, get in touch with the manager of that department so you can find a smart, sane way to address the problem. Reach out to the member again after the complaint's been filed to make sure there are no hard feelings. 
  4. A complaint comes in about an ATM/online banking issue -- Contact IT and see what the problem is. For an ATM issue, speak to that branch's manager and ask about what's being done or needs to be done. 
  5. A complaint comes in about a member's account -- Put that member in touch with a member service rep to get the problem ironed out, then follow up later after the issue is resolved. 

To anyone who skimmed over that list, let me ask you a question: what did you expect? Was social media supposed to be the be-all, end-all, no-muss, no-fuss solution to all life's little problems?

Listening matters. Paying attention to what your competitors are doing matters. Paying attention to your partners and your "peers" matters. And if you only get presented with one problem per month and you solve it? Well, you've solved one problem. Move on to the next one. 

But writing off the capacity to get things done using social media completely? That's a failure not of taste, but of common sense. It's the broken window theory - fix problems when they're small, when they're few. Create a legacy of solving problems with social media, people will know that's a way to get their problems solved. 

And always remember rule 1: ignorance is by no means bliss. It's just a mound of problems you aren't solving. 


February 07, 2012

Guest Author Marvin Umholtz: Stop Feeding the Strategic Crocodiles Snapping at CU Heels


The following strategy-focused overview candidly dissects the challenges and risks that are dangerously snapping crocodile-like at the heels of credit union leaders.  The mere fact that there is so much change going on and so much change that could go on in the 2012 to 2013 timeframe makes credit union’s reluctant to take major strategic steps when significant energy and resources might be demanded to manage through these unprecedented challenges.  Although potentially unsettling for those who like easy answers, this overview’s’ fundamental premise is that today’s credit union leaders must thoroughly understand what they are up against and mitigate it.  Credit unions aren’t paranoid if malignant forces are truly out to get them!  Use this overview as a discussion-starter at the next Management Team or Board of Directors meeting. 

Strategic Macro-Trends Affecting 2012:

  • Today’s political, legislative, and regulatory risks far exceed the traditional operating risks – credit, interest rate, liquidity, transaction, compliance, strategic, and reputation.  The crushing regulatory burden exacerbated by compliance’s escalating cumulative complexity now drags on the credit union business model and threatens its future viability. 

  •  The polarized Congress and the gridlocked legislative environment that results cause strategic uncertainty in financial services regulation, mortgage finance, and the economic recovery.  The November 6, 2012 elections could lead to a massive macro-directional overhaul of the federalgovernment.  That added ideologicaluncertainty makes scenario planning and financial modeling difficult at best – perhaps impossible. 

  • Many credit union officials claim that the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board has been relentless in imposing its interventionist agenda on credit union decision-makers.  On a regular basis the NCUA Board demonstrates through its policy directives, supervisory edicts, rulemaking, and enforcement actions that its priorities too often stray from an emphasis on safety and soundness toward micro-management and counter-productive social engineering.  However, the biggest burning question – How much is the corporate credit union crisis resolution going to ultimately cost? – remains unanswered.

  • In addition to its own pre-disposition to re-regulate credit unions, the NCUA is mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus(CFPB) statutory mission to examine for and enforce additional complex and costly requirements on credit unions.  The NCUA is destined to become a branch office of the marketplace-controlling CFPB enforcing a “level playing field” of fewer consumer choices and limited credit availability.

  • The global economic situation has not been this troubled in decades.  The U.S. Federal Reserve System Board of Governors has promised to keep interest rates at unprecedented lows through 2014.  Only slight improvements are expected in overall economic growth and employment over the next several years.  Consumers will continue to focus on deleveraging their debt and limiting their spending.  The federal debt continues to grow and the political inability to deal with demographically unsustainable entitlement programs embeds more uncertainty into the fiscal dynamic.  The wearying margin-less economic situation obstinately refuses to go away.

  • Additional strategic hot topics: net worth expectations, capital access, deposit insurance reform, moral hazard, too-big-to-fail, systemic risk, loan portfolio mix risks, charter conversions, prepaid cards, consumer activist groups, financial literacy, credit union service organizations, participation loans, partisan political polarization, and many specific credit union-identified hot topics.  

Key 2012 Strategic Takeaways:

1.     Fundamentally Different Decade Ahead.  The next decade will be fundamentally different – economically, competitively, demographically, culturally, and politically – from the preceding decade.  Using the same strategic approach to the financial services marketplace as in the past would be insane.  The economy in particular is expected to inch its way along impeding everyone’s business plan.  To keep the credit union’s metaphoric head above water, its leaders must fully understand the prevailing undercurrents that radically impact on strategy.

2.     External Risks > Internal Risks.  External risk factors – especially political risk, regulatory risk, and complexity risk – will have more impact on a credit union’s strategic success than will internal factors.  What one does not control will exceed what can be controlled.  Get used to it – uncertainty and how well it gets incorporated into strategy is critical to a credit union’s successful operation.

3.     Federal Government Not Friend.  The Congress, the National Credit Union Administration Board, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Reserve Board have their own political agendas and are not a credit union’s friends.  Don’t let them fool anyone into thinking otherwise.  Instead, expect them to keep making things more difficult.  Treat their increasingly costly, complex, and burdensome demands with deference – but validate, verify, and when appropriate challenge their directives.

4.     Ultimate Stabilization Costs Unknown.  Regardless of whether the NCUA Board’s loss estimates for the corporate credit union legacy assets are realistic or not, the Board sets the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund(TCCUSF) assessment based upon those estimates and they drive the credit union’s costs.  Nobody knows for certain how deep the multi-billion dollar TCCUSF hole really is or how long it will take to pay it off.  Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

5.     Industry Infrastructure Fractured.  As a direct result of the 2008 financial system meltdown, the current credit union industry’s legacy infrastructure – including its in loco parentis regulators, non-risk-rated deposit insurance regime, and even its traditional trade associations – are showing signs of rust and structural weakness.  Proactive demolition and reconstruction of these faltering institutions sans dogmatic platitudes, entrenchedoligarchies, and one-size-fits-all approaches could go a long way toward restoring real return on investment for each increasingly diverse and independent credit union.

6.     Heavy Mortgage Loan Mix Untenable.  In the absence of a serious refocus of lending strategies credit unions are at risk of becoming the next Savings and Loan debacle.  Collectively credit union loan portfolios are dangerously loaded with low-return fixed-rate mortgages.  Many credit unions also rely heavily on originating and selling to the secondary market that is currently in flux due to the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the glaring absence of any private market investors, and Congressional proposals that could radically reduce the demand for mortgages.  It’s an accident waiting to happen that credit unions must anticipate and avoid.  

7.     Non-Bank Competition Toughest.  Big banks, community banks, thrifts, and even other credit unions are not a credit union’s biggest competitors.  Big box retailers, insurance companies, payday lenders, and other non-banks are running circles around traditional federally insured financial institutions and it will only get worse because most of the non-banks’ offerings are convenient, uncomplicated, and consumer-friendly.  Credit unions, and especially Congress and regulators, should learn from these competitors’ successes rather than try to stamp them out.

8.     Boomers & Seniors Rule, X & Y Drool.  Aging baby boomers constitute a major portion of credit union memberships and along with many seniors dominate credit union boards of directors.  Generations X, Y, and the very young will not be a credit union’s salvation in the near term no matter how hard they try to attract those smaller demographic cohorts.  Each credit union needs to find out what their existing baby boomer members want and find a way to profitably give it to them.  Neglecting boomers could be fatal to the institution’s bottom line.

9.     CU Business Model Threatened.  The traditional low-cost, high-service credit union business model seems increasingly at risk from its cumbersome governance structure, limited access to capital, reliance on loan and investment income, legacy modest means mission, innovation-killing hyper-regulation, and inadequate products and services authorities.  Credit unions desperately need additional ways to generate income, broaden service offerings, streamline delivery systems, and generate scalable growth.  The credit union business model will need to evolve in ways that will make the traditionalists uncomfortable, but the alternative is stagnation.  Credit union leaders must proactively advocate this business model evolution since it won’t be simply handed to them. 

10.  Urgency for Change.  Lead, follow, or get out of the way.  Credit union elected officials and management executives that are unwilling to be drivers of change should seek early retirement.  The future belongs to credit unions that are committed to and intensely involved in change.  A change management skill-set and a sense of urgency will be required if a credit union wants to emerge unscathed at theother end of the coming decade’s strategy-altering uncertainty-laden gauntlet.

 Have questions/comments for Marvin Umholtz? Leave them in the comment section below. 

February 02, 2012

Everybody's Reviewing It! Why Gen-Y Depends on Other People's Opinions Online


by Ron Daly 

Ah, Gen-Y - the "El Dorado" of marketing demographics. People are hazy about where they are, what they do, and the richness of the treasures they possess. And after about five years of hearing how critical it is to win over the Gen-Y crowd, we get a little insight into how they buy and behave with their money.

One of the critical things a business (or credit union?) must do, according to a study done by Bazaarvoice, is point Millennials to user reviews (which they describe as "user generated content", or "UGC"). The opinions of other online users of a product or service weight heavy, particularly with regards to electronics. They're more eager to hear from people with "relevant experience" and they're three times as likely as the Baby Boomers to ask for people's opinions on a social media network. 

Why would the opinion of someone a Gen-Yer has never met mean more than their real-world friends and family? Well, in the real world, maybe not. If someone runs up to you on the street and screams "BUY AN iPHONE!", it might not make you break out your wallet right then and there. But when Bazaarvoice means "stranger", I'm pretty sure they mean a "reviewer". And what does a review have? 

  • A star rating - Quick and easy. If there are five possible stars and three of those stars are filled, that's a metric. There are typically a row of those stars followed by a number in parentheses indicating how MANY people have responded/rated that product. If a product has four-of-five stars and a thousand reviewers, well, that product is probably pretty good.
  • Short write-ups - A short review says a heck of a lot. If it's thoughtful and fully formed, it tells you the reviewer took their time and is a smart, well-informed consumer. If it says "Dis produkt is h0rrible, teh wackness"? That person's probably not so trustworthy. 
  • A link back to more information - Some online channels will give you permission to see other things that reviewers have reviewed on that site. This helps you figure out whether a person is ALWAYS negative or just negative about the thing you want to buy. 

Online reviews are interesting and helpful because not only are you evaluating a product, you're evaluating its users. But you don't see a lot of online reviews on a CU's website, do you? At least, I don't. 

Why is that? 

According to that same study (presented in a friendly little infographic on this site), 29% of millenials won't make a decision about credit cards or insurance without feedback from other users. Maybe more important: 

"Most Millennials say companies that include customer feedback on their websites are "honest" (66%) and "credible" (53%). "

Pretty great first impression, right? Think that could work for CUs? Who's willing to start this out? We know of a few CUs over on Facebook that let Facebook users review their products, but who's going to up the ante and include a place for reviews on their actual website? Is some CU out there already doing it? 

And before you go on about how you want to manage all your content and control every aspect of your "online presence", consider that over six hundred thousand people in the US moved their money in the past three months and attributed that switch to Bank Transfer Day, an online event that largely happened TO credit unions, not BECAUSE of them. 

Food for thought. 

Want to "review" this article? Have some insight? Talk to us in the comment section. 



January 18, 2012

Go Ahead, Stay Under the Covers - the Monsters Can Still Get You.


by Ron Daly 

A while back, the credit union Twittersphere had a conversation about blog comments and whether a blog is really a "blog" if it doesn't allow any feedback. 

"A blog without comments is still a blog, it's all about frequency of posting," some said. "A blog without comments might as well be a static web page," said others. Good examples on either side, but my question was always, "why block comments?" 

So...why block comments? I think I know why. It's because someone might say something bad. 

I've heard a lot of hubbub about "negative feedback" in the past five years. With the emergence of social media and the acceptance of blogging as a medium, people immediately skim over all the basics and jump right in on asking, "What if someone says something negative?" 

What if, indeed? 

The Monsters Are IN the Bed 

The idea of "monsters under the bed" isn't new to any parents out there...we've all had to check for them at some point. We know the truth, but if it makes our little ones feel safer? Sure, we'll check. We'll put in a nightlight, or we'll buy an extra teddy bear. We'll make sleep possible and, hopefully, lasting. 

When the "monsters" are not monsters but are instead an unsatisfied member? Don't worry about them being there or not being there. They're there. There IS a monster there, not under the bed, but in the bed. The question is, do you want to DEAL with the monster or PRETEND it isn't there? 

I think the term of choice for bloggers/social media managers/marketing people who consciously ignore bad feedback or go out of their way to hide it is "tone deaf". I also think there's something really sad about wanting to "go after" commenters or social media users who say something negative. Want to see where that gets  you? Read this story about Boners BBQ attacking someone for leaving a bad Yelp review [ABC News]. 

And while we're on the topic, what about social media from INSIDE the workplace? "We don't want people saying anything that might make us non-compliant!" 

And you manage Turning off social media? You turn off social media on their network, that's not going to stop anyone from doing something anti-compliant from home or on their phone.

"What if they complain about the credit union or our members?" So, let me get this straight - that's something you DO NOT want to know about, AT ALL? 

Monster Resistant, Not Monster Proof

The truth about business is, you'll never make everyone happy. You'll make some people really happy, you'll be fine with a lot of people, and you'll get a couple of folks good and angry. Getting the angry folks back on your side isn't a matter of just throwing money at them - sometimes, complaints and gripes are solved through careful evaluation. 

Let's run this down: 

  • The complaint is anonymous and full of cuss words - Probably not something you need to burn a lot of energy working on, as it's just some punk playing with your comment fields or being a jerk on Twitter or Facebook. Moving on...
  • The complaint is angry, but seems to be about a genuine problem and has an email address attached - Why not reach out to that person via their email and ask them more about the problem? For every one of these complaints you get, you're probably not hearing several more; this complaint might actually solve a problem you've been overlooking.
  • The complaint is addressing a very specific problem, relative to that member - Then deal with it and follow up with that member, who will be VERY appreciative of your time and attention. 
  • There are sixty complaints, all dealing with the same problem - Odds are, unless you are a top ten credit union with billions and billions in assets, you won't have enough members for this level of feedback. But if you find yourself dealing with a mob scene on your blog, figure out where they're coming from - who's got a good point, who's just gloming on, who's a defender of the brand. 

I think that's the worst part of the decision to completely block out feedback - this idea that you're holding back a tidal wave of negative people saying negative things. We've run this blog for about three years now and we've never had seventy comments to moderate at once. We do moderate, one comment at a time, and we post the ones that meet all our guidelines. Haven't seen our guidelines page? Here it is. Go look at it. That's been here from day one. 

As for social media, we take our own medicine - we use Social Sentry. It tracks social media usage on your office network, public and private, and also tracks public posts from users outside of the office all the time. When I, as the admin, see social media use I don't think is fit for the network, I intervene. When I see an account I want to follow, I follow that account and I get their public feed. I don't spend a lot of time worrying because I stay on top of things. Better than being in the blind, right? 

Managing the expectations and the reactions of members is easy. Just be clear, be consciencious, and be fair. When a problem arises, solve it. But don't think ignoring comments or completely disallowing them will stop people from talking about you. 

Be in charge of your repuation.