Statistically, your credit union won't start a blog for the love. How about the money?

Blogging by the numbers

It is estimated that there are more than 150 million active blogs worldwide. Technorati, a free blog ranking and aggregation service, reports that over 75,000 new blogs are started each day. Technorati tracks about 1.2 million new blog posts each day which equates to about 50,000 new blog posts per hour.

We can officially say, this blogging thing is not a fad.

Blogging and credit unions

I believe that credit unions should have a social media strategy and if they have something worthwhile to say, credit unions should be blogging. As community-based, member-owned organizations, credit unions are in a unique position to have open conversations that matter. There is a real opportunity to form deeper relationships with members and potential members.

Apparently the Canadian credit union system does not yet agree with me. In Canada, less than 1% of the 500+ credit unions are blogging. These are the only active blogs that I can find:

The US credit union system has a similar opinion on the subject. In the United States, less than 0.2% of the 8,000+ credit unions are blogging. Here is the list from the comprehensive Open Source CU blogroll.

I am sure I have missed a few, but you get the point—very few credit unions are blogging. Both the Canadian pioneer in the credit union social media space, William Azaroff from Vancity and his US counterpart, Shari Storm from Verity, regularly speak to large groups on the subject of credit unions, social media and blogging.

William and Shari are very quick to point out that blogging has been transformative for their credit unions. Ironically, both of them are in New York this week at the Net.Fin@nce conference educating a group of bankers on the power of blogging!

So why aren't more credit unions blogging?

Blogging for the love

It can't be the newness. At 150 million blogs and growing, blogging has clearly crossed the niche line.

It can't be the barriers to entry. You can pop over to CU blogs, WordPress, Typepad or Blogger right now and be up and running immediately. For free or nearly free. Yes, you will need a champion and content, but I bet there are a number of eager employees in your midst.

It could be the fear of the unknown. What will we say? What if no one subscribes or visits? What if no one comments? What if someone is critical? What happens if it peters out?

Most likely, it is the difficulty to prove return on investment that has stopped most credit unions from entering the blog-o-sphere. The commenters on my guest post on Open Source CU seem to think so.

Blogging for the money

What if your credit union could actually acquire new members and sell products and services by blogging?

There is an unwritten rule that social media shouldn't be used to sell. The experts warn that people will see right through your pitch. Blogging is for connecting. Blogging is for building your reputation. Blogging is not for hawking your wares.

Hogwash. A blog can be the centre-piece of your credit union's marketing and communications initiatives. Through blogging, your credit union can conversationally discuss new products and services and create meaningful relationships at the same time.

Of the credit union blogs listed above, only two have an obvious product marketing focus—Carolina Postal Credit Union's I Love My Hoopty blog and Common Wealth Credit Union's Young & Free Alberta blog. I don't know about the results of the Hoopty campaign, but I do know that the Young & Free initiative has been wildly successful at both connecting and selling.

When I first started blogging, I questioned the value for credit unions. As a marketer through and through, I looked at this altruistic medium and wondered if there was an opportunity to combine communication with sales.

There is.

I'll bet there would be a lot more credit unions blogging if the leadership and marketing department understood how they could use this new medium to better connect with members and to sell more products and services.

The alternative is to bury your head in the sand and send out yet another direct mail piece that yields a 1% response rate.

Am I wrong or am I right?

Tim