July 3, 2014
CUES’ Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.
Building long-term relationships with members is one of the fundamental values driving the credit union movement. Consistent member communication is crucial to building a loyal member base. Although the channels and methods have evolved, maintaining an open dialogue is key to providing the superior level of service your members expect.
Corporate blogs can be a powerful communication tool to help credit unions build brand awareness within the communities they serve, deepen relationships with existing members, while attracting new members, and promoting new products and services. Microsoft is often credited for launching the first corporate blog in 2002 and, seemingly overnight, nearly every other major corporation followed suit. Blogs enable credit unions to engage members regularly and attract a new generation of members.
Technology has made it possible for credit unions of any size to quickly and easily launch a corporate blog. The challenge is successfully maintaining the blog with pertinent content to attract readers and functions as a tool to help grow your institution. When launching a corporate blog, knowing what your audience wants and delivering compelling content are critical to ensuring your credit union’s blog is a success.
Connect With Your Audience
The goal of your blog isn’t simply to increase your visitor count, but rather to build a loyal readership. Defining your target audience is one of the most important steps. Investing time to define the target demographic audience will give you a better sense of what topics will be of interest and the type of information your audience is seeking. Understanding your audience is much more than simply knowing their age and occupation. Consider their hobbies, community involvement, concerns and future goals when creating a viable audience profile.
Successful bloggers engage their audience in a variety of ways and view this as an ongoing process. This can be achieved by regularly asking for feedback, posting an email inbox on the blog page to solicit opinions, distributing an online survey and allowing for reader comments. Take advantage of face-to-face opportunities with members to seek input and ideas. Keep in mind the blog’s goal is to create a dialogue between the credit union and readers. It’s important to listen and respond to feedback with timely responses. This further builds the connection between you and your readers. Comments can be moderated, but they should not be disabled.
Create Compelling Content
Providing quality content is vital to making certain your credit union’s blog is an effective communication tool. Each post should be written with the member in mind. Analyze it and ask what value it provides to the member: Is this topic timely and of interest? Is it likely to spark additional conversation? Asking questions at the end of blog posts helps engage readers and provides valuable feedback that can possibly lead to future entries. Using questions as headlines for blog entries is another strategy to help attract readers, and demonstrate the credit union knows what issues and concerns are important to its members and its community.
Unfortunately, the majority of corporate blogs focus primarily on selling products and services. While a blog is a great channel to promote your credit union’s offerings, blogging is more about creating a meaningful conversation and sharing personal experiences, ideas and opinions, in addition to company news and upcoming events. Allow the blog to have a personality, avoid formulaic posts and maintain a conversational tone. Limit blog posts to a few short paragraphs, and use bullet points or lists as well as compelling subheads to keep the reader’s attention. If the credit union wants to tackle a topic that requires more detail, break it down into a series of posts. The most successful corporate blogs keep their entries short and simple.
Distribution Time & Frequency
Finally, the frequency and timing of blog entries is directly linked to the success or failure of your credit union’s blog, especially if one of the goals is new member acquisition. A recent HubSpot study revealed that when companies increased their blog entries from an average of five per month to an average of eight per month, the amount of new customer leads nearly doubled. These efforts can be further amplified by using social media to promote new blog entries. Twitter is an excellent tool to build links to your credit union’s blog. Use tags and keywords to make your posts more searchable and boost search engine optimization efforts.
A variety of publishing tools and micro blogging sites are available to make the process of launching a corporate blog quite simple. Taking the time to identify your target audience, engage readers, tailor the content and maintain a consistent flow of information is critical to ensuring your blog is effective and a success. When strategically executed, blogs can be a powerful tool to grow your credit union and strengthen member relations.
Anna Stanley is an account supervisor at William Mills Agency, the nation's largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or its blog.
Photo credit: Dollarphotoclub.com/ travelwitness