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Tips for establishing a social networking policy
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/1/11)--The opportunity to “connect” with more members and non-members than ever before make social networking an enticing platform for credit unions looking to extend their presence. An article from the Texas Credit Union League offers tips for crafting a social networking policy. “There’s no doubt that social media is a game-changing initiative that brings with it an unrivaled ability to provide timely information to literally hundreds of millions of users,” Steve Gibbs, assistant vice president of shared compliance resources with Credit Union Resources Inc., told the league (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 25). “But all the technology and connections made possible in today’s landscape won’t matter tomorrow if your credit union is operating without establishing some guidelines and a social networking policy to protect your institution and, more importantly, your members,” he added. About 81% of respondents viewed social media as a prime learning tool for employees, according to a recent study from CARA® Consulting’s 2010 survey, “How Informal Learning is Transforming the Workplace: A Pulse Survey on Social Media’s Impact on Informal Workplace Learning.” And 98% confirmed that social media have changed how users learn and access information, the league said. “Ignoring the impact of social media can be a mistake, but joining Facebook or YouTube just to join them and start putting information out there for visitors is almost always a bigger one,” Gibbs added. “It should be a top priority for your institution to develop a social media policy if you are planning on bringing your organization into the online communities.” But where do you begin in establishing an effective policy? Gibbs advocates assessing the organization’s current status (size, time invested, etc.) and what risks may be involved (everything from the defaming reputational risks to legal and regulatory risks). After that, it is a matter of balancing a credit union’s social media output, along with employees’ use of social media and what content they share that may relate back to a credit union. “It’s not about ‘policing’ content your staff shares, but it is about designating an efficient social media contact for your team, someone who is active and proficient in utilizing social media and someone who is easy to get a hold of in the event your members or online community has questions,” Gibbs said. Other essential areas of concern for your policy should address technological safeguards, universal messages to be communicated in a significant development and other related functions. “The bottom line is that technology is changing the way we communicate and if we are not embracing these new platforms, we’re going to be missing out on educating our staff, members and communities,” Gibbs said. “But in doing so, we also need to be prepared to monitor and maintain our activities; otherwise our messages may end up doing more harm than good.”

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