Credit union social media and the fear of dialogue, death and prison

I am enjoying the CUES Experience in Minneapolis. Its extremely well organized. It is big, but not too big and the vibe is really cool, particularly for me, because I have been able to catch up with so many of the great folks that I have met through blogging.

Arkadi Kuhlmann, chairman, president and CEO of ING Direct kicked things off yesterday with a dynamic keynote and then I took in Ron Shevlin's and William Azaroff's sessions before and after lunch. I finished the day by co-presenting with Morriss Partee from EverythingCU.com.

The track I followed had a definite 'social media and credit unions' theme.

Ron discussed in detail his belief that today's marketer needs a new competency in sense and respond marketing. Ron did a great job and I learned a lot. I will get a podcast out that highlights some of Ron's key thoughts. Ron's session was definitely not focussed on social media, but he did touch on some practical dos and don't if your credit union decides to start a blog.

Audience question: "How do we deal with negative comments?"

William gave a brilliant talk on how Vancity shows up in the real world and online and how the Vancity brand is in 100% alignment with its members' and potential members' core beliefs. William is a masterful presenter and delivers extremely practical advice. Again, I will get a podcast out that highlights some of William's social media best practices.

Audience question: "What if a member of Change Everything stalks another member of Change Everything in the real world and murders that person?"

And then finally, I co-presented 'Building Relationships with Social Media' with Morriss. Morriss did a great job by kicking off the session with general advice on how credit unions can get involved and then I finished the session by demostrating how the Young & Free Alberta program is connecting both on- and off-line. Other than some audio issues, I was happy with my presentation. Again, I'll turn this into a podcast.

Audience question: "What if Larissa gets arrested?"

I know these questions where thrown out there as worst-case scenarios. But these three questions drive home the what-if-scenario paralysis that I see inflicting today's credit union movement. The fear of the unknown is limiting innovation. William's response summed it up best for me:

"That could happen with two people meeting in a branch. If we had that heavy of risk assessment it would keep us from doing any kind of business. You have to lead by trying something different and being a pioneer and just trying something that feels right. We make sure that we aren't breaking rules, but we don't spend any time worrying about things like that. If you worry about everything, your ideas will get watered down to a point of limiting collaboration and communication."

There is a place for best practices and risk management, but sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and be a leader. If you fail, try again. Otherwise, you might as well lock yourself in a closet—at least your members won't get shot and your employees won't be thrown in jail!

Tim