Dear Credit Union: If You’re Going To Blog…

At the risk of overstepping the boundaries of my expertise (whatever that might be), I’d like to offer a few recommendations to the growing list of credit unions jumping on the blogging bandwagon. If you’re going to blog:

1) Sign the entries. An entry on Comala CU’s site starts off by saying “you’re not going to believe what was in my inbox last week.” My first reaction: Who are you? CEO? Marketing person? Somebody else? CUs should follow Verity’s lead and list all the contributors, and have the person who wrote a particular entry sign it. I guarantee you that your readers want to know who posted the entry.

2) Use pictures of your bloggers. If you’re really bold, include pictures of the bloggers. A study done a few years ago (please don’t make me go hunt all over the Net trying to find it) found that real pictures of the people who work at a company (not stupid stock photos) raised site visitors’ perceived trust of the firm. It will make your blog’s visitors feel like they’re really communicating with someone real, even if they’ve never met the person.

3) Post your comments policy. Whether or not you moderate comments, let people know on the main page. TEUCU does a great job of this on its site. Its posted policy clearly lets people know what to expect when they post a comment about when they’ll see it on the site.

4) Categorize your posts. Piedmont CU’s blog is pretty new, but Dan Veasey has already done a nice job of categorizing the entries so a site visitor can find something from the archives if the category strikes a chord. The benefit of doing this right from the start is that it should give the CU’s bloggers a beacon for what topics to write about.

5) No commercials. It’s not what’s your blog for, and you don’t need them. Especially “ads” for online banking or other online services. I don’t have data to support this contention, but I bet a lot of your blog’s readers already bank online. And I bet they read the blog to connect with you — not get sold to.

6) Don’t use Blogger. Three reasons (and two are purely personal): 1) Some Blogger sites pop up a window for comments which I find annoying. I’ve lost long comments on some sites futzing around with the word verification. 2) The look isn’t very professional. 3) Most importantly, I don’t think the stats that Blogger provides are as good as WordPress or Typepad.

UPDATE: First off — wanted to thank Morriss over at Everything CU.com for the heads up on Comala. Second, I came across this post at the Marketing Council Cookies site, written by Trey Reeme on the same topic. Didn’t see this until the other day, or I would have linked to it. Sorry Trey and Morriss.

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14 thoughts on “Dear Credit Union: If You’re Going To Blog…

  1. Ron, thanks for the compliment.

    I would agree with you about blogger. I am new to blogging but I wish I had done a little more experimentation prior to launching our blog on blogger. I really liked the features on wordpress better but at the time I was starting up, it seemed that the wordpress site was taking an abnormally long time to load. Blogger was quick and I chose performance over features. In hindsight, it was likely a problem on our local network causing the delay. A new router appears to have cleared up that and a few other problems.

    I am very surprised to see how many cu’s out there have recently started a blog. I found most of them (including your site) only after starting the Piedmont CU blog. My only experience prior to that was a few posts on everythingcu.com and reading a little on opensourcecu.com.

    Good post, sound advice, even if it’s not your expertise.

  2. Asterisk to number 5: If you use Blogger, turn off word verification but turn on comment moderation.

    If you turn on comment moderation, don’t let comments sit in oblivion. Finally, if you use Blogger, you can customize the design with a little know-how.

    Brent’s brother’s band’s website is a great example of Blogger, tricked-out. http://cadenzamusic.blogspot.com/

  3. Heh, did I say number 5? Ooops. Meant 6.

    Am at Urban Market in Dallas, with a Red Stripe in front of me. You can chalk it up to that. Hooray, Beer!

  4. Excellent list Ron!
    I would add two which you hint at anyway:
    1) do not mention products unless its just to highlight an innovation
    2) re your #1 – posts should be personal and not ghost written – signature must be real.

    PS .. sorry Trey, as good an example as that is, click on comment, and the problems begin.

  5. Ron–
    More to-the-point insights! And Colin’s right..click comments and that’s where the fun ends. The home page looks awesome, but you lose it in the comments. I’m not running a large blog by any means, but I even ended up moving to WordPress for more flexibility.

    And Dan, I’d switch to FeedBurner ASAP for a little more control over your feed. Especially if you might ever want to move blogs. It’ll make the conversion a little easier!

  6. Content and interaction > the picture frame in which it’s presented.

    When it comes to ensuring a branded experience, you have to ask yourself how much of the branded experience comes from a few images and how much comes from the dialogue that the commenter is participating in.

    Ideally, Blogger wouldn’t jump to another page for comments. I think the Cadenza site is much better than most though, and it wouldn’t frustrate me to see a branded FI blog done similar. I’d think, “Wow, somebody put some time into that design – and how to get the most out of a free service.”

  7. One other point about Blogger: I don’t know if they’ve changed things since late last year, but posting and editng entries was burdensome with its rebuilding/reindexing approach. WordPress is so much easier.

  8. Ron: I’ll bet your readers would love to see a short list of your favorite or most noteworthy or most popular (in terms of Technorati ranks?) CU blogs. I know I would!

    Trey: LOL! I’ve been guilty of commenting to blogs from a bar as well. NOT a good idea.

  9. Jeff — do you really think so? the reason I’m skeptical is that, first off, the people who are commenting here represent the CU blogs that I read. Not sure I’d be telling them anything they didn’t already know (or that Trabian hasn’t pointed them to on the open source CU site).

    Robbie — did you mean “Dan”, not “Ron”?

    Dan — oh geez. I used to joke (ok, only half joke) that the four words I most feared hearing from a client was “we took your advice”. nothing sent a chill down my spine like hearing those words. I was always expecting it to be followed with “and you’ll be hearing from our lawyers”

  10. …and if you click on my name above, it doesn’t work. That’s what happens when “remember me” was entered incorrectly.

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