CCUL Headlines: Industry Insight

How to build a social media policy

Wednesday, February 19, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michael Ogden (CUNA Mutual Group)
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Too many social media policies in credit unions are born in the aftermath of a social media gaffe, as in, "We should have had a rule about letting Larry post our Facebook updates after midnight.”

To put the social media policy’s place in your organization into perspective, compare it to your lending operation. Your lending policy documents the basic parameters for risk tolerance, loan types, reporting structure, compliance process, etc. On that foundation, you build lending strategies—indirect auto loan alliances, monthly direct mail campaigns and the like—which are carried out in the day-to-day performance of your branch managers and lending staff.

Your social media program can follow the same structure, more or less. Every credit union is different, but consider addressing these basic elements in your social media policy:

1. Ownership/authority

Someone must take overall responsibility for your credit union’s social media activities. But in the social media sphere, that’s not as simple as it sounds. Effective social media is timely. It’s not a broadcast, it’s a conversation—and if you’re not an active participant, you probably won’t engage your target audience.

Another danger for the social media tortoise: a rapid spread of misinformation while you’re carefully writing responses by committee and/or waiting for the green light from the executive suite. The upshot is, choose and train social media communicators you can trust, and avoid management approval bottlenecks.

Establish your point person(s) who will post and monitor material on each of your social media platforms, and backups to keep the conversation going during vacations.

2. Metrics

How will you measure success? As with many types of public relations and marketing, measuring the full impact of social media isn’t possible. With some coaching in web analytics, however, you can set certain benchmarks that will help guide your strategy.

3. Tone

Social media is a conversation—right?—so be conversational if you want to be relevant. And be in tune with the platform. A credit union Facebook page might be like business casual; Khakis and docksiders. Twitter? Shorts and flip-flops. Although tone is certainly a strategy, it also belongs in the policy, so everyone involved understands that posts, tweets, videos, etc., will probably depart from the more formal business communication style of older media.

4. Compliance

Your policy should establish when compliance is required, especially for any content relating to specific products. This material can be construed as advertising that requires disclosures. Contests are popular social media tools, but many are subject to specific rules. So your communicators should have an excellent working relationship with your compliance expert.

5. Continuous monitoring and follow-through

Detail how often your social media accounts should be monitored. Responding to comments from outside your credit union is critical, especially (but not only!) when they’re negative. Show that you’re plugged in.

It’s also important to cross-check information you receive and disseminate through social media.

Encourage all employees to respond promptly when your social media person routes them a request for service or information. Immediate, accurate responses build a sense of community among social media users.

You’ll have little choice but to review and adjust your social media policy at least annually, because chances are your audience will be using different media and technologies in different ways a year from now. Electrons are whacky like that.

Michael Ogden is the media relations manager for CUNA Mutual Group, and the main tweeter for @cunamutualgroup. Reach him at


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