Tips for Managing Your Credit Union’s Online Brand

Picture of words with brand recognitionThis article was contributed by Shelly-Ann Wilson Henry, Corporate Communications Manager for CSCU. Through NWCUA’s Strategic Link partnership, CSCU has provided Northwest credit unions with insight, ideas, and the know-how required to compete in the rapidly evolving payments industry.

Today, the consensus is that it is integral for you to have a strong online presence if you want to build a strong brand. With so much information being consumed online, it is almost impossible to build a brand without incorporating social media, a blog, and a website into your content marketing strategy.

You may be thinking “I have a website where members can log in and manage their accounts through online banking, and potential members can get information on my great rates, products, and services. What more do I need?” But today, much more is needed.

In fact, many of your existing clients, and your potential clients, searched for your credit union and were first introduced to your brand online.

Many fear of the risk of exposing their brands to the online space. However, not being involved in the online space means you’ll have no awareness or power to respond if your brand is being portrayed negatively there.

There seems to be a formula for communicating whenever there is a breach, but it is just as important to have a plan to handle online crises in order to maintain the reputation of your brand.

Following are a few helpful tips for handling crises for your brand online, particularly on social media:

  • Always respond: Respond to all comments whether they are positive or negative, and do so in a timely manner. Thank the writer for their feedback. If the comment is negative, offer to handle the issue offline after thanking and apologizing to them. Remember that he/she gave you an opportunity to resolve the situation rather than taking their business to your competitor. Also, by handling the issue offline, you are minimizing a public display of comments going back and forth.
  • Follow up with a resolution: If you make a promise to resolve the situation you must follow through. Be sure to get the right people involved so the issue can be resolved effectively and immediately. The last thing you want is a crisis that goes unresolved indefinitely or falls through the cracks.
  • Apologize publicly using the same channel: How you respond to the crisis is far more important than the crisis itself. Acknowledging and apologizing publicly, as well as stating how the incident was or will be handled gives you an opportunity to reiterate what your brand represents. Use this opportunity to focus on your members, what is important to them and how you solve their pain points. This is not a time for invaluable advertising.
  • Maintain, maintain, maintain: Having a person or system dedicated to managing and monitoring your online presence is key. Without proper maintenance of your sites/platforms you will not be able to catch the crises early and nip them in the bud.
  • Make the necessary internal changes: Oftentimes the silver lining behind crises is that you get to improve an internal function that was not optimal. Maybe you did not have a social media or crisis communication policy in place or maybe you did not have someone whose primary focus was on managing your online presence. Whatever it is, use the experience to identify the weak area and make improvements.

Of course, being able to respond, diffuse negativity, and take advantage of a possible opportunity for your credit union to shine requires having someone or a system dedicated to monitoring and managing your online presence. If you decide to be online, you must commit to being an active participant; meaning posting value-added content consistently and interacting with your audience. Your consistent presence and activity helps to build your reputation, which comes in handy during crises, as loyal fans often “run” to your defense and help to balance the negativity.

Questions about our Strategic Link partnership with CSCU, and how they can help grow your credit union? Contact Jason Smith, Vice President, Strategic Resources, at jsmith@nwcua.org.