One thing I consistently hear from credit unions is they just can't keep up with social media sites which then makes them hesitant to leverage social media at all. And for those not engaging in that space fairly often, it's a fair assessment. There seems to always be some new big thing that seems to then fade away fairly quickly (Second Life? Friendster? Will MySpace soon be on that list?). However, blogs have become as ubiquitous as websites, email or chat rooms.
Ten years ago, blogs took off in popularity and are now a mainstay on the Internet. There are over 100 million blogs out there and chances are that you know several people that blog regularly. CUNA staff is even blogging now. And of course, so is Credit Union Times...
Why do some credit unions blog? Why should they?
Here are some compelling reasons that I've found:
Replace your printed newsletter - In 2010, why slave away at formatting and printing hard copies of a newsletter? A blog saves money and time, ensures your information is more up-to-date (ie: events can be posted right away rather than in the next newsletter months away), is eco-friendly, and is generally easier. Your members can even subscribe to blog updates via email once you set up your RSS feed for email notification through a free service like Feedburner.
Converse with your members - Social media is about transparency, honesty, and conversations. Give them an easy place to talk with you and vice versa. See Members CU's "Ask Jack" blog for a good example of this.
Give a window into your world - This also ties in with the last point. I know there are many interesting and fun people out there in credit union land. Let them blog and help personalize your staff. Verity CU does this well with "Our Voices."
Dispense financial advice - reinforce your brand. Use video and be interesting. Seems like a no-brainer for nonprofit financial institutions to also position themselves as trustworthy and resourceful. South Carolina FCU's "Simple Cents" blog is a great example of this.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Google loves blogs and not every member or potential member visits your website directly. Many visit Google and naturally you want your information to come up near the top. Use keywords wisely. This is so important that some CUs blog just for the SEO benefit and the other benefits are a plus.
Blog internally - Beef up your intranet with a blog where employees can comment on stories. This can be used for internal news & announcements, member stories, employee highlights & other morale builders.
Not that I'm prescribing these-naturally it all depends on your culture, business needs, membership, and so on. Also keep in mind that like any social media effort, you need a strategy first-who's going to post? On what? When? Who's moderating comments?
Remember there is nothing sadder than a blog on your site that hasn't been updated in months. Cue the digital tumbleweeds.
Christopher Morris is Manager of Communications & Web Resources for CUNA Councils. He blogs regularly at the newly created CUNAverse at http://cunaverse.com.