From the research I've done, very few credit unions are participating in and taking advantage of all of the Web 2.0 tools available to them. For a Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0 click here.
Sure, most every credit union has a website and online banking, but does your credit union communicate with your members in an open, two-way conversation? Are you aware that your members are talking about your service or lack thereof online for everyone to read? I doubt it. Credit unions need to get smart and savvy and pay attention to the new Web reality. Here's a quote from the cover article from last's month's issue of Wired Magazine.
Get naked and rule the world
Smart companies are sharing secrets with rivals, blogging about products in their pipeline, even admitting to their failures. The name of this new game is RADICAL TRANSPARENCY, and it's sweeping boardrooms across the nation. Even those Office drones at Dunder Mifflin get it. So strip down and learn how to have it all by baring it all.
Here are some examples of credit unions opening up
This is a phenomenal social network site with absolutely no marketing speak. All credit unions should be studying this example—it is truly authentic and perfectly aligned with Vancity's brand. This is the model of the future.
The link given is CEO Dave Mowat's blog. With Dave's recent announcement that he is leaving for ATB in Alberta, this was a great forum to allow his members to speak out about his decision. From what I can tell, this appears to be the only CEO blog in the Canadian credit union system. If I am wrong, please leave a comment with a link to others. I feel other CEOs need to be consistently blogging.
Forum Credit Union, located in Indianapolis, IN has set up an interesting forum for teens. They ask a question each month like, "what summer job would you like to have?" and "what is your favourite winter activity?"
Today's youth are so savvy with computers and technology; they are tapped into MySpace, Facebook, Digg and other social networks. Kids' expectations of blogs, forums and social networks is extremely high, so if you do try to engage them, you better not go only half way.
The Forum Aware Teen blog is fairly new and a little light and fluffy which might explain why the questions get less than 10 answers each, but it's a start.
I believe that all credit unions need to be talking to the up-and-coming youth. Their bank competitors definitely are.
Verity Credit Union, headquartered in Seattle, WA totally gets it. A dozen staff members contribute regularly and the topics are fresh and well-written.
They engage members and are really trying to improve communication by talking about tough topics. You can tell that this blog is not going through multiple edits and public relations polish. It is active and there is great dialogue gong on.
This is a great example to follow. It is what a credit union blog should look and feel like. The grammar experts out there might find the occasional typo that I spotted offensive, but I think it actually adds to the authenticity.
Well done Verity!
+ Service One Credit Union Brown Knows CU Blog
I am not sure if the name of this blog was intentionally meant to be funny or not, but the name of Valerie Brown's CEO blog has a double meaning that she might not be aware of! Growing up, I knew a different definition for brown nose! (click here).
Joking aside, this is a good example of a CEO regularly writing to members. However it's disappointing that you cannot leave comments. To her defense there is an e-mail option.
There is an expectation in the blogosphere (here's another Wikipedia definition for you) that a blog should be a two-way conversation. When a blog doesn't have a comment mechanism that posts automatically, it makes you feel like the author is afraid of what might be said.
A closing word from the wise
Ron Shevlin, a VP from Epsilon, a leading interactive marketing firm in the US has a clever blog that often touches on the banking and credit union world. Here is a wonderful diagram of how your credit union should be communicating online!
What are you waiting for? Open and start engaging your members and potential members online!