Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are You Experienced?

The head of the pack, as the marathon starts. Second annual Salt Lake City Marathon. Photo by Trent Nelson; 4.23.2005

The race is on. Nearly every credit union, bank, and business is chasing after a new demographic. We all see the importance of capturing the attention of the 70 million members of generation Y. Just like the Boston Marathon, this isn’t a race to enter unprepared.

The way generation Y thinks about business, communication, and life in general is completely different than even the Gen-X-ers who preceded them. This is leaving many business leaders scratching their heads, wondering how to reach this new group of individuals.

The world of web 2.0 is a daunting thing from the outside. It is nearly impossible to describe to somebody who has never used Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia what exactly they are. Like the Matrix, nobody can be told what it is. You have to see it for yourself.

matrix morpheus red blue pill_44

So, what does it take to enter this new space? In a single word: experience.

To truly understand how the world of the social internet works you have to experience it. As daunting as the space might look from the outside, its much simpler to get involved than you might think.

Most social sites require little more than an email address to get started. The best way to find out what this whole web 2.0 thing is all about is to sign up on something like Facebook or Twitter. Enter the conversation. Explore menus, applications, and groups. Watch how things go down. It’s really not as scary as it seems.

The thing with social networks is that from the outside they seem incomprehensibly large. Once you enter the space and start to see how it functions though, it becomes apparent that what you once saw as a massive collection of people is really divided up into countless, smaller social circles.

It’s almost like walking into the lunch room at high school as the new kid. At first it seems daunting. It looks like a giant mass of people with no order, structure, or division. Once you sit down, talk to people, and find the people you want to talk to, the social circles start to become apparent. No longer is the lunch room a giant mass of people, but a collection of smaller, coherent circles.

The best advice I can give to a credit union looking to enter the world of web 2.0 is, get involved personally. Enter the space as an individual. Post pictures you have, search out old schoolmates and friends who might already be there. Find the familiar faces and get used to how the space works. Start a conversation. The great thing about social networking is that, on a personal level, there really isn’t a “wrong way” to go about things. So go ahead...take the red pill, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

As a side note, one of our board members, Lee Cabana, has recently set up his own Facebook account. Check him out and say hi!


Mike Templeton said...

You provide some great advice to those looking to dabble in the social media space. The best part about diving in is that it essentially describes how all of the regular users (that's us) were introduced as well.

So I agree with you wholeheartedly. Pick your poison and take the plunge.

Just remember that if a CU or FI is to make the most out of social media, they'll need to put together some realistic goals and expectations for the space, just like with any other marketing effort.

For more on the topic of CUs and Facebook, see my post from earlier today:

Anonymous said...

I have to say it's not Gen Y getting involved in commenting on the web. In the CU world, we have to be tuned into wherever members can comment. On the Hannaford breach, I saw a member thanking their CU on a newspaper's blog about the story. Is this CU aware of this very happy member, reissuing their new debit card?

Good information.

Andy said...


You are right, to move a financial institution into the space it takes a lot more than just putting up a facebook page. It takes a campaign with goals and measurements (at least as much as you can measure a social media approach). As an individual though, its much easier to get involved and experience the space so you can get a feel for the environment before you try to initiate something larger for the institution.


Its true that there is a percentage of older (by older I mean 25+) people who are involved in the social aspect of the web. Its great to see people have the ability to share experiences, thanks, and concerns in a public forum.

Setting up something like Google Alerts can help you track whats being said about your credit union. Could you link me to the newspaper site? I'd love to take a look at it. Social networks and blogs give us a huge opportunity to search out and join conversations that pertain to the credit union.