Fear And Understanding In Social Media

Callahan & Associates dispels five misconceptions that keep credit unions from achieving a successful social presence online.


When it comes to engaging and cost-effective social media strategies, how do you separate the foursquare from the nightmare, the LinkedIn from the leave out? No one said social media was easy, but success starts with the proper mindset.

Callahan & Associates’ marketing team recently held a webinar highlighting five common misconceptions that sap enthusiasm or effectiveness from budding social media programs. You can address these to begin tailoring a strategy that truly works for you and your instituion.

1. Social Media Is Just A Fad

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that social media use has grown dramatically over the past six years. About 65% of adults have tried social media and 43% of are using it daily.

“The numbers are still growing, just not always as dramatically,” says Alexandra Gekas, marketing specialist for the D.C.-based credit union consulting firm. “It depends on the channel.” New platforms like Pinterest, which allows users to organize their favorite online finds, keep social media evolving, so your strategy and presence should evolve, too.

2. It Only Reaches Younger Members

This ain’t your grandma’s social media. Or maybe it is.

“The 30-49 age group saw 9% annual growth in social media use through 2011 and the 65+ group saw 7%,” Gekas says, citing data from the Pew Research Center, based in D.C. “There’s a number of different generations stepping up and becoming more active there.”

3. It Takes Too Much Time

“This myth can be true, but only if you let it,” says Elizabeth Morash, customer engagement coordinator for Callahan & Associates. “Streamline the process by having a social media plan. Ask who are your members, what content do they care about, what times are they on social media, what platforms do they use, and what is your ultimate goal?”

Time saving tools like Hootsuite or Seesmic let you break down what’s going down in multiple social media channels each day. These type of sites also let you schedule posts to produce and distribute content when it’s convenient.

4. It Presents Too Many Risks To My Brand

“Your brand is on the Internet and on social media, whether or not you put it there,” Morash says. “If you’re on social media, then you can see what is being said about you on sites like CreditKarma or Yelp, and effectively respond to it.”

Determining which channels you should be monitoring can be difficult. Ask members to list the social networks they use most, whether it’s during their application process, when they’re online, or during other points of contact.

Keep any online responses civil and positive by expanding the company’s professional conduct policy to your social media channels. “If someone’s posting some thing that is wrong, address it respectfully and provide evidence to your point. If someone is right, apologize and move quickly to remedy the situation,” Morash says.

5. Effective Social Media Happens Quickly

“It takes time to build a conversation and the following you need to get engagement,” Gekas says.

Outreach on Twitter will not flow naturally without pushing until you have around a 1,000 followers, according to Jennifery Abernethy, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guilde to Social Media Marketing." “It’s OK to be putting that extra effort in until you get there,” Morash says.

Monitoring and measuring engagement and reach shows the progress of your efforts, and they're easier than ever to track. Bitly, Tweriod, and socialmention.com are some of the free services that can help.

Are you on Twitter? Because we are. Follow CreditUnions.com and Callahan & Associates.


Feb. 2, 2012


  • These are some good pointers about how to implement and use social media. One I would add is: Have a designated social media pilot (whether a VP, director, or manager) who ultimately "owns" the social media channel and to whom staff can go to with questions and suggestions.

    On a related note, I'm often asked what mistakes I've made in CU marketing and I usually answer "Trying to do too much too quickly with social media." It's okay to start small and develop a social media strategy over time. LIke the article says, though, social media is here to stay so, if you're not already, it's time to get on board.
    Todd Nelson
  • I'm still a little fuzzy about what the benefits of social media are to credit unions, even if the 5 "misconceptions" outlined above can be overcome.
    Jeffry Pilcher | The Finanical Brand