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3 posts categorized "Student Loans"

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.  

August 31, 2010

Get your college student out of your house...and into your other house?


by Ron Daly

Most of you folks have already taken your college students back for another year of higher learning. Man, is that on campus housing ever expensive!  Wouldn't it be nice if there was available real-estate near your child's college? 

Chances are, there are houses and apartments abound near your young person's school...and that could mean a real-estate treasure trove for you. 

From the Washington Post

By buying a place and taking out a mortgage, non-deductible dorm rents can be converted into tax-deductible mortgage interest payments.

Parents also benefit from tax deductions for real property taxes, depreciation and the costs of repairs and replacements, as well as travel expenses to locate, acquire and periodically inspect the investment property. The parents' tax burden might also be lessened by the capitalization and amortization of capital improvements made to the residence.

The article presents a pretty compelling case for buying a piece of real estate near a school, focusing mostly on write-offs and tax deductions, but also points out the benefits of not moving your student every year they're in school (hallelujah) and the eventual resale value of a building for whom there will always be interested buyers and renters. 

It's not all smiles, however; the article presents several drawbacks to owning a home near the university, including...well, the fact that your university student will have a home of their own to manage - or not manage - or, heck, outright destroy. Being a landlord is tough enough, but then there's dealing with your own kids as tenants and college students. 

My take? If you've got the means, you should go for it. Your student needs a place to stay, you need a write-off or two, the economy needs a pop in first-time home sales - everyone wins! If the money's cheap, make it happen. Just be very specific about your expectations to your young person before you hand over the keys. 

My take as far as credit unions go? How about a lending-bundle? Programs like Student Choice are making student loans from CUs more convenient to find and programs like CU Realty are giving you great mortgage rates and even cash back. A borrower that's smart enough to smell the opportunity is a borrower you want. 

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below. 

May 27, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a MBA? Why You Shouldn't Freak Out Over Student Loans


by Ron Daly

I knew it wouldn't be long before I had to say something folks wouldn't agree with. 

There's a new proposal suggested by the Obama administration that would extend student loans directly from the Government instead of pushing the 97% guaranteed loans through banks and CUs. Of course, I always like to look at things from a Taxpayer's point of view. And how good is it to hear the Government is trying to save $94 Billion over the next ten years? Considering the billions and billions spent on bailouts, it's a welcome relief to hear that they've found one area where they can save some money.

Of course, the proposal is under fire from financial institutions and trade groups, who argue that this will mean less lending (read the CU Journal article here). 

Or will it? 

Continue reading "Brother, Can You Spare a MBA? Why You Shouldn't Freak Out Over Student Loans" »