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Social media brings positive exposure as well as damaging feedback from unhappy customers. How have credit unions avoided digital backlash?


Technology not only provides businesses better access to their consumers, but consumers better access to businesses and one another. The immediacy and give and take dynamic of social media means it is not as easily controlled and managed as a typical PR campaign, something many businesses are finding out the hard way.

Like word-of-mouth advertising, in the hands of satisfied customer’s, social media is your best friend. In the hands of disgruntled ones, it can be an Achilles’ heel, as easily highlighting your weaknesses as it does your strengths.

For example, Facebook currently hosts several groups rallying against the nation’s largest bank, and even the bank’s official Facebook page is riddled with negative feedback. “Social-networking sites are becoming another venue for consumers to complain,” says USAToday. “And complain is exactly what they're doing.”

One customer wrote on a bank’s Twitter page: “Stop making your living off my late fees! You fine me more than you loan me!" In a world where bank bashing has gone viral and high-tech, how are credit unions largely avoiding such negative exposure?

“Poor customer advocacy explains why social media is threatening for big banks,” says Brett King in the Huffington Post. Credit unions have an established history of doing right by the member for decades, back when “twitter” was simply the sound that birds made. Today, social media makes these values clearer and more perceptible to a larger number of consumers.

Forrester's 2010 Customer Advocacy report shows credit unions consistently rank highest in terms of customer satisfaction for financial institutions. Roughly 70% of members say credit unions puts their [members] interests first.

“Community banks and credit unions exist largely to serve a specifically aligned group of community members” says King. “The very sense of community that binds the individuals who support such financial institutions is also a core element in the success of social media.”

Credit unions don’t try to reign over their social media campaigns with a heavy hand the way other institutions might, simply because there’s no need to. They know their members and they know how to listen, online and in-person, which helps eliminate potential social media blowback before it begins.


Dec. 29, 2010


  • It occurs to me that we should all practice the rules of verbal communication. Why not try these in 2011? Rule #1: Is it kind? Rule #2: Is it true? Rule #3: Is it necessary? Of course when trying to make a point or remain relevant and visible, Rule #3 will be broadly interpreted and that's OK. But come on. Rules #1 and 2 are cement.