Shifting Social Media from “If” to “How”

Guest post written by Steve Richman, sales trainer and national spokesperson for Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

Social media has been embraced by consumers — your members and potential members. Your employees are engaged in social media activities, whether they are active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and other sites or active bloggers themselves. In fact, social media has become more mainstream, with growing participation in all age groups and income levels. The question for credit unions has changed from “Should we or shouldn’t we?” to “How do we?” Here are three steps to consider, whether you’re already using social media or are just getting started.

1. Identify a Senior Leader Champion.

The first step in making social media work for your credit union is to have a senior leader to champion the idea. This initiative is not going to bubble up from within the organization — it needs a champion from high atop the hierarchy. That champion needs to create a team to institute a social media initiative. The team should include an attorney. If the attorney is involved in the creation process, with a directive from senior management to make it work, you can pave  the way to easier implementation.

2. Distribute the Social Media Policy.

Developing a practical social media policy is a must — with emphasis on  “practical.” Rather than writing a social media policy that tells employees what not to do, complete with threats of termination for inappropriate usage, you should include what would be considered acceptable posts. Show employees the types of comments you deem proper and effective, and train your employees on the social media policy as a part of the distribution plan. One way to ease the entry into social media is to create a weekly post of content that is both legally permissible and relevant to the member. Distribute this post to team members so they can use it in their own LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter feeds.

3. What If Someone “Goes Negative”?

Once you have an organization that embraces and understands social media, there is still an element that is outside your control — the consumer. How do you deal with negative comments that people, not your employees, make on social media sites? A plan to deal with negative situations should be a part of your social media policy and training.

If a consumer posts something that has no actual content (for example, “You stink.”), simply delete the post. However, if someone posts a complaint (for example, “Your underwriting is horrible.”), you must respond and move the conversation out of the social media realm. For instance, you could write “Thank you for your concern. In an effort to respect your privacy, please contact me at … so that I may help resolve this situation.” After the issue has been resolved, go back to the original post and write a comment stating that you are glad that you were able to work with the member to address his or her concern. These actually are opportunities to show what makes you stand apart from your competitors. If you successfully resolve a member’s complaint, he or she may return the favor and provide a positive comment on his or her own on your social media sites. And learning of a problem sooner can help you address any internal issues or processes that may have contributed to the member’s unhappiness.

Genworth Financial is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Private Mortgage Insurance.

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One thought on “Shifting Social Media from “If” to “How”

  1. The points above are right on target–especially the first one about senior leadership and engagement. When it comes to social media, credit unions must keep in mind the two “S”s of social media: strategy and staff. Strategy (such as who you are targeting and what your goals are) should drive your social media efforts. Also keep staff in mind: there is a great deal of time involved when doing social media correctly (it won’t just happen magically; who’s going to do it?). By keeping strategy and staff in mind, your social media efforts will be much more effective.

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