Monday, April 30, 2012

Why you should NOT fear the transparency of social media

In conversations with several credit union marketing professionals, there seem to be two main reasons why they aren't investing as much time or as many resources in social media as they probably should be.
  1. They don't see how it is relevant to the financial services industry.
  2. They fear the transparency of it, and how it gives customers an open forum to discuss anything - including negative topics.
I will try to tackle the first issue later this month, because it is an industry-wide struggle without an easy answer. But the transparency of social media is still a very hot-topic issue that needs to be addressed.

Facing criticism is difficult for anyone. But especially among banks or credit unions - places people trust with their money - because stability and assurance are non-negotiable must-have qualities. It makes sense that the assumption would be that an angry member could do irreparable damage to the reputation of a financial institution by posting about a customer relations mishap repeatedly on Facebook or Twitter. And if not managed properly, it might well could.

But if managed well, it will do the opposite.

Today's consumers crave transparency from the brands they trust. Why? Because transparency is authenticity. Authenticity is real; it is honest. People trust honest. If you are doing good business, your members are going to be ambassadors of your brand. They will recognize that mistakes happen, no one is perfect. And in many cases, they will defend your brand by expressing their own positive experiences. Beyond that - they will appreciate that you took public criticism, especially if in response to it you apologize sincerely and gracefully take action to correct the problem.

Also, the fact of the matter is, whether you are on social media or not, your members most definitely are. And they are probably still talking about you. By being involved in the conversation, you can help manage it. And by not being involved, it sends the message that perhaps you have something to hide.

And, not fearing transparency has the added bonus of allowing you to use social media as the most inexpensive way to get immediate feedback on products and services you provide. That means you can make adjustments quicker, and keep your members happier.

Have a look at this case study about the Boulevard Brewing Company, and their launch of a chocolate ale.

Boulevard Brewing Company: A Social Media Case Study in Leadership, Transparency and Doing the Right Thing

 How have you interacted with customers/members on your social media channels? Any negative or positive experiences? Let us know in the comments below!
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