Think small world web, not world wide web.

I wrote the title of this post in a comment I made on Open Source CU after reading an interesting article by Jeffry Pilcher of Weber Marketing. Jeffry's article chronicled two recent social media failures by Coca Cola and Wal-mart and warned credit unions to think twice before jumping into their own social media experiments. Jeffry's article joins a long list of blog posts that are warning credit unions to think before they leap.

Good advice, but I also think that too much fear and constant warning will keep too many credit unions out of the social media space. And that's sad, because I really believe credit unions have an awesome opportunity to create meaningful connections online and further the credit union difference.

This is what I said. "A niche, a purpose, relevancy, freshness and a small-geographic footprint are key for credit unions. In the real world and online. Rather than the World Wide Web, think Small World Web. You simply can’t be a Facebook or a YouTube, but I believe you can do something special in your own backyard."

I'll expand here, because I want their to be more than two successful credit union social media case studies everyone points to. Verity Credit Union's Our Voice blog and the Vancity Change Everything community are both great, but we need to start pointing to other successes. Poor Shari Storm and William Azaroff can't carry the weight of an entire industry! So here's my advice.

  1. Niche: Your blog should further your brand's position and speak to a select group of people. There has to be some people who read your blog and say 'huh?' While others make it a must-read in their RSS reader. How about a blog dedicated to senior citizens, youth or another underserved member segment?
  2. Purpose: Believe in something and show your credit union's passion. If the content is too light and fluffy, you're audience will fall asleep and not return. Don't be afraid to be controversial and polarize. Nothing starts interesting dialogue like people disagreeing!
  3. Freshness: Don't just regurgitate your newsletter content. Speak from your heart about things that matter to your members. And don't be afraid to have some fun. Also, don't be discouraged if the comments are few and far between. It takes time to stimulate your audience to actually participate. Most importantly, post something new at least once per week, ideally more. Recruit a group of bloggers from within your credit union employees and if you are daring invite a few members to blog as well.
  4. Small geographic footprint: The Web is too big. Keep things small. This is the most important advice I can give you. State clearly where you operate and who you serve. If your topics get too broad, you'll lose your relevancy.

Out of curiosity, I ran Change Everything and Our Voices through the above advice and I'd give Change Everything an A and Our Voices a B. No wonder, they are all we can talk about!

Tim