Part 2: "Our credit union doesn't allow Facebook or YouTube"


In part 1, I presented the two main reasons why companies block employees from participating in social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube while at work: security and time wasting. In this follow-up, I'll give you three reasons for your credit union to consider throwing caution (and productivity) to the wind by openly embracing the social web.

Reason 1: Employee retention

Many employees, especially the Gen X and Y set, actively participate on social networking sites. In-mail (messaging services within these sites) is replacing e-mail as a primary means of keeping in touch with friends, colleagues and family. This new breed of employee resents being blocked from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

This is from the Government Technology Magazine:

"While Web 2.0 sites clearly pose a threat to corporate network security, making them off limits to employees may not be the best solution," said Sheinbaum. "Many companies understand that being able to access social networking and Web services sites during work hours is important to overall Employee 2.0 satisfaction and may also benefit their business."

This is from a News.com article entitled Can social networking co-exist with the workplace?

There is no question that companies that have embraced the Internet have benefited over those that have ignored the changes overtaking the business world.
Social networking sites truly do provide robust features that provide a richer means of online communications. Rather than ban employees from using the medium, managers should think ahead how to turn it to their advantage. Careful thought should be given when considering the use of any networking features that could be detrimental to an enterprise. From there, policies can be crafted on a company-by-company basis to guide employees and gain their buy-in.

Reason 2: Connecting with your credit union community

There are 69 million registered Facebook users. This is a huge group of engaged users. In my neck of the woods, there are more than 700,000 members of the Vancouver network alone! For a credit union looking to connect with members and potential members, there are definitely opportunities for your credit union and for your employees to have a presence on the social web.

This is from the Cutter Consortium article on social networking:

On the one hand, the blocking of social media sites continues apace. On the other hand, the adoption of social media in enterprises is on the rise.
Jeremy Burton, president and CEO of Serena Software in San Mateo, California, USA, supports bringing social networks to work. Socializing is good for your business, and your employees could help your business via social media to gain customers' trust and to improve research, product design and development, and innovation. If your customers indicate a strong preference for a certain social-media service, it makes sense to give your company a semi-official presence there, run by real humans, for informal customer service and true public relations.
"No matter what, people will find ways to socialize and share during work hours," Burton says. He encourages businesses to exploit this socializing to their business advantage by arguing, "If your employees are going to 'do it' anyway, why not encourage them to channel their social-media impulses in smart, safe ways that can potentially help your business?"

There are a number of examples of credit unions connecting with members and potential members with Facebook pages. Here are a few that I am a fan of:

There are also a number of examples of credit unions creating community and dialogue within the social web with their own online communities and blogs.

Reason 3: Marketing and sales

There is an unwritten rule that the social web is all about connecting and building community. This makes it tough for the number crunchers to calculate ROI, but what if you could sell products and services?

This is from Evolving Solutions:

"Whether you're selling widgets, or selling software, or working at a restaurant, Facebook is a great social platform that allows anyone who works for an employer to let all their friends know who they work for and maybe what they're selling," points out Nadeau.
"So, if (companies) use it in their favour then it can be a very useful tool."
For example, a restaurant owner could have its staff create and join a Facebook page devoted to people who are a fan of a popular appetizer the restaurant serves, friends of those staffers may see the page and be interested in going to the restaurant to try it, said Nadeau.
Facebook is also a quick and easy way for staff to stay connected with colleagues and customers, and has the potential to help people build up their business contact lists, adds Spinks.
Regardless of strategies and policies around Facebook and Internet use in general it is pretty much a given that office workers will use the Internet daily for non-work-related reasons.

Here are some examples of credit unions utilizing the social web to actually sell products and services.

What do you think?

I have presented you an overview of the two major reasons to block and the three major reasons not to block social networking sites. This brings us back to the two intertwined questions that need to be considered:

  1. Should we allow our credit union employees to participate on the social web while at work?
  2. Should our credit union have a presence on the social web?

The answers will vary from credit union to credit union, but I believe the answer needs to be yes to both questions or no to both questions. If you decide to block employee access to the social web, but also have a credit union presence on the social web, you are sending contradicting messages and your credit union will be unable to create the employee buy-in needed to generate the success you are seeking.

On the other hand, if you grant employees access but decide not to have a credit union presence on the social web, you will constantly be questioning the value of this "time wasting" and will resent your employees.

Personally, I would answer yes to both. But then again, I have a handful of employees, not hundreds!

Tim