Some “Whys” and “Hows” of Credit Union Blogging

Partnering blogging, a technology that emphasizes conversation, and connection with people with a movement that wants and needs to connect with members could lead to great things.

 
 

Blogs are a new “buzzword,” but they have potential to be much more – especially for credit unions. Aligning a technology that emphasizes conversation and connection with people with a movement that wants and needs to connect with members could lead to great things. Two credit union experts address the fundamental question-why blog?

Ginny Brady is the Vice Chairwoman of the board at UFirst Credit Union ($18M assets in Plattsburgh, NY). UFirst is undergoing a branch redesign. She thought that by turning to blogging, the membership could get a voice in this process by learning what’s going on with the project and what goes on at the board of their credit union. On January 1, 2007 she launched the Boardcast blog.

Doug True, SVP Lending and Technology at FORUM Credit Union ($979M assets in Fishers, IN) and President of FORUM Solutions has been working with blogs for a few years. His current blog, True Story, is a way to spread the word about what’s going on at his credit union to members as well as industry peers and to share his knowledge about the industry.

How Do You Set Up One of These Blog Things?
According to Ginny, the Boardcast is her first foray into the blogging world as a blogger rather than a reader. Therefore, ease of setup was top of mind. When it came to setup, she decided on Type Pad, a blogging tool that comes with a free 30-day trial and costs $150 for a year of use, including all online hosting. Type Pad provides a lot of ready-made objects to put on your blog that will let you, for example, poll your audience. Type Pad also features the ability to let multiple people at an organization write entries, which can keep the conversation going when you yourself have little time to write.

How Will Our ‘Numbers’ People Measure Results?
Type Pad features the ability to track who is coming to your site. There are two ways to track site visits-through comments posted and through the built-in technology that counts page visits. Though the blog is in its infancy, Ginny can see that readership on her blog is growing. During the first two weeks of January there were 110 visits to the site. From mid-January to mid-February visits had increased to 554. Remember that this is a site that has only been operating for six weeks!

Doug True is a more seasoned blogger but he, too, faces a similar interest in tracking readership. Comments come with time, but, according to Doug, it was getting a bit discouraging that they weren’t always there. This prompted a search for a tracking tool, and he discovered Google Analytics, a free tracking tool for blogs that can even pinpoint readers by geographic location and maps. This tool has helped him realize that readership is steadily growing.

But Doesn’t Cyberspace Have Sketchy People? How Do We Avoid Them?
One commonality about blogs is that they’re diverse and versatile, but they all allow authors to control comments to varying degrees. Some, like Ginny, choose to put a disclaimer on their site that says the author has the right to monitor comments. Others, like Doug, direct people to a part of their site to fill in their name and email before commenting, which should block spam since spammers are using automated machines. In addition, sites like Type Pad and Blogger.com provide customization so when you set up your blog you can decide how to monitor comments to control spam.

Ginny and Doug’s experiences in blogging are just a few of those out there. Though both started their credit union blogs for different reasons they re-emphasize the most important point of all -when it comes to credit unions and the new technology of blogging, it just makes sense to try it out as a way to reach your members and peers, and new technology makes this an economical and more convenient time than ever to do so.

Author’s Note: One suggested book that addresses all of the above issues is Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, experts in the business blogging realm.

Let’s get together and learn more about blogging! Join blogging gurus for a discussion as we tackle “Blogging Basics”, a webinar brought to you by Callahan and Associates.

 

 

 

Feb. 26, 2007


Comments

 
 
 
  • Excellent question under comment #1. The payback for me is that I have met numerous people through my blog that I likely wouldn't have met. Some of these new friends actually turned in to business partners that are in fact helping us with solutions to better serve both our credit union members and our partner credit unions at FORUM Solutions. I do get discouraged at times through the lack of comments. However, I have been informally encouraged to keep the conversation going. Plus, according to Google Analytics I am getting more than 100 visitors per day with 46% of them being returning visitors. The True Story blog has served as a conduit to network - that is my peronal payback.
    Doug True
     
     
     
  • Thanks for your question, anonymous. I would direct you to the latest posting at Verity's blog, http://veritycu.blogspot.com/ , which mentions more of the "soft returns" of blogging. Otherwise, stay tuned for an answer to that question from Verity!
    Paris Ward
     
     
     
  • What is the payback? What does blogging provide to the membership as a whole? I also noticed that Doug has fewer than 15 total comments across all his posts. What does that say when very very few are interested enough to engage in the discussion? I too think that there may be value in blogs, but they must be 2-way, active and serve as more than a virtual soapbox. Verity CU has been blogging for over 2 years now. Can they call out any specific benefits and payback to its membership?
    Anonymous
     
     
     
  • Going back to Comment #1, Shari Storm, head of Verity's blog, has a great response on Verity's blog at veritycu.blogspot.com. I encourage everyone to check that out!
    Paris Ward
     
     
     
  • Great responses. Thanks! I agree that the intangible paybacks can sometimes be valuable and worth the effort alone. I also believe that credit unions need to be attentive to costs, payback and brand implications when undertaking social networks. Social networks are indeed hot and can be of great value, but like anything, they have to be well executed and directly relevant to the business relationships and goals.
    Anonymous