We’re All Talking But Is Anybody Listening?

Original articles

Original articles

Credit unions are writing blog posts, posting videos, tweeting tweets, updating statuses and generally blasting out messages any way possible through all these "free" social media channels. We're all talking, but is anybody listening? Or more specifically, is anybody interacting?

It used to be that we counted success on the Web by the number of hits, then we moved on to average time on your site, unique visitors or video views. But now it seems that everybody is striving for interactions. These days, people are obsessed with:

  • How many comments per blog post?
  • How many retweets or mentions on Twitter?
  • How many comments or likes on Facebook?

This shift makes sense in our modern age of conversation. According to Wikipedia, "a common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value."

If you were to take the pulse of all the credit union social media activity, you'd quickly find there is not a lot of social interaction for the co-creation of value going on. In fact, Jeffry Pilcher from the Financial Brand recently researched numerous blogs at credit unions and banks and discovered that many seem to be accumulating digital dust bunnies in the comment area. Even most long-standing blogs received less than one comment per post.

My take on the situation is that blog comments, retweets, mentions and likes are hard to come by. You have to put something extremely creative, humorous, controversial or emotional out there to summon a reaction. Not typically words associated with credit union content! According to Josh Bernoff from Forrester Research, 70 percent of people who participate in social media are simply spectators—those that watch videos, listen to podcasts or read blogs.

Very few people actually interact. It's intimidating to put yourself out there on the Internet and have people judge your writing and thinking! This is why most people simply lurk.

For these reasons, I highly suggest incorporating lightweight ways for your visitors or followers to interact in your social media initiatives. Opinion polls, ratings or public voting on contests are all great places to start.

The Power of Voting

At Currency Marketing, we have incorporated contesting and public voting into all our social media marketing programs. We've found no better way to drive traffic, word-of-mouth buzz and online interaction. Those participating in your contests become your promoters, pushing your brand and messages into circles you could never reach.

Here are a few scenarios to consider when designing your voting system. 

  • Limited voting. One vote per e-mail or IP address. This tends to the most fair.
  • Unlimited voting. No limits on the number of times voters can vote. This tends to drive the most traffic.
  • Limited multiple voting. One vote per day or week to encourage repeat visits.
  • Number of "retweets" on Twitter or "likes" on Facebook. This gets your message into the large social networks.

Regardless of the vote type, you can assume a small percentage of people participating in your contests will try to game the system, so it's very important to build safeguards into your voting system to thwart off the hackers. You should include the ability to track IP addresses and sense machine voting. You may even consider requiring your voters to confirm their vote by e-mail.

Voting is a lightweight way to encourage interaction and drive traffic. We've also seen contest voting as a great way to drive comments and build that "social interaction for the co-creation of value" that we're all looking for.

We Want YOUR Vote

Our six Next Top Credit Union Exec finalists have been putting their hearts and souls into blog posts and videos since June and now they are coming together at CUES' CEO/Executive Team Network on Nov. 8 to present the progress of their projects to all the attendees.

The winner, who will be named Nov. 10, will be determined by:

  • 50 percent on-site judges,
  • 25 percent attendee votes and
  • 25 percent online votes.

Online votes is where you come in. Please visit www.nexttopcreditunionexec.com/vote on Tues., Nov. 9. We will be accepting one vote per legitimate e-mail address from bright and early in the morning until 5 p.m. Eastern. Check out the final presentations and have your say in who takes home the title of Next Top Credit Union Exec. You can even leave a comment on the blog if you're so daring.


Tim McAlpine lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. He is the President and Creative Director of Currency Marketing, an integrated marketing agency specializing in helping credit unions attract the next generation of members. Tim is best known as the creator of Young & Free and CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec, and co-creator of the CU Water Cooler.