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Li To World's CUs: Social Media Use Is All About Relationships
Click to view larger image "Social media is going to exist whether credit unions choose to be there or not, making engagement the only way to sway negative comments," social media and technologies expert Charlene Li told the World Council of Credit Unions' 2013 World Credit Union Conference Tuesday. Social media engagement for business begins with strategic planning, she said.
OTTAWA, Canada (7/18/13)--A successful social media business strategy requires more than just the latest technologies, according to Charlene Li, social media and technologies expert and Tuesday's general session speaker at the World Council of Credit Unions' 2013 World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Growing numbers of credit unions and financial institutions have experimented in social technologies, but few have incorporated them into long-term social business plans that strategically engage their members and employees.

"It's really about how you form a relationship," said Li, founder of Altimeter Group and best-selling author of Groundswell and Open Leadership. "Credit unions have a very special relationship with their members that is very unique and heartfelt in their communities. You see people in your branches, online, on your websites and on mobile phones. Soon you will see these people on your social media channels as well."

Click to view larger image "Business is social. Social is relationships," Charlene Li, social media and technologies expert, told a packed general session room at the World Credit Union Conference Tuesday in Ottawa, Canada.
With today's global media penetration at more than 50% and growing across every demographic, credit unions have an opportunity to reach and form relationships with their entire member base. Organizations must create a social strategy that connects back to their business goals, or they are destined to fail, Li said.

"If you don't know why you're using these, you should probably stop and really sit back and think, 'What is it I'm doing with my credit union? Why do I have these technologies? How do they tie back to our business goals?'" Li said.

Before any organization begins strategizing a social media plan, it must embark on what Li calls a "journey" through consecutive phases, starting with planning. By laying a foundation for the future, credit unions can evolve to reach convergence--when their social efforts align with their business objectives. Li recommended credit unions start by defining and prioritizing their top three to four long-term business goals over the next couple years, then decide how social media can help achieve them.

Click to view larger image During the audience question and answer in Tuesday's general session, Ben Janzen, stewardship in action adviser for Mennonite Savings and CU (Canada), asked Charlene Li, social media and technologies expert, for advice on how credit unions can maximize their social media efforts during business hours.  (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"Tools and technologies will come and go," Li said. "Your strategy has to stand the test of time."

More than 180 conference attendees spent the evening visiting one of seven credit unions throughout Ottawa. The sold-out tours included visits to Alterna Savings and CU Ltd., Buduchnist CU Ltd., Caisse populaire Rideau-Vision d'Ottawa, Frontline Financial CU, Meridian CU, Ottawa Women's CU and Your CU.

The 2013 World Credit Union Conference ended Wednesday. Wednesday's events included a closing general session presentation by Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action author Simon Sinek, World Council's annual awards ceremony and a closing night reception at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
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