Missed Social Media Opportunities

Credit unions have been clammoring to get involved with social media, many times without a cohesive strategy behind the action.  The Financial Brand ran an article about why social media doesn’t have any ROI a while back. The basic gist: have a reason to get into social media.

Neighborhood Watch Sign

Some companies have ample opportunity to get involved in social media, and for some reason or another, have yet to do so. Take your good ol’ Neighborhood Watch. While it is officially called USA on Watch, you will most likely recognize the sign you’ve seen many times on telephone poles and buildings in your area. To quote from the USA on Watch website:

Our nation is built on the strength of our citizens. Every day, we encounter situations calling upon us to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Not only does the Neighborhood Watch Program allow citizens to help in the fight against crime, it is also an opportunity for communities to bond through service.

The Neighborhood Watch is the perfect example of an organization that could leverage technology and social media to make it stay relevant. Think of the technology you have in your possesion right now that could be “the eyes and ears of law enforcement”. The Neighborhood Watch has some great opportunities to take advantage of the explosion of location-aware technologies. Consider the following examples:

  • Your local neighborhood watch has a Twitter account. One of the neighborhood watch participants tweets the details about a car break-in and the exact location is automatically included in the tweet.
  • You are walking your dog when you notice a stray in the neighborhood. You snap a picture with it from cell phone and sent it off to Twitter, GPS locations included on the picture itself and your tweet.
  • The neighborhood watch website overlays GIS data from the city (here’s an example in Portland, OR) that combines publicly available sex offender data and crime data to make a snapshot of your neighborhood.

Those are what some may call the “low hanging fruit” for USA on Watch. Many more things can be done using some of the free tools available. This may include using the Twitter API to combine local tweets in real time with Google MaPS and Google Earth that have been tagged a certain way or contain certain keywords. It could also build the ever-popular iPhone application to enable people to join their local neighborhood watch and send out updates to the application when a crime occurs or an Amber Alert is issued.

Goodwill Industries presents another wonderful opportunity to engage in social media to further fulfill their mission. It appears Goodwill has taken too long to create an iPhone app, as a private developer has already beat them to it. iDonatedIt also is stepping on Goodwill’s toes by tracking customer’s donations on their iPhone or iTouch. Goodwill should take a cue from the airline industry and develop their own iPhone and/or Blackberry application that lets customers not only find their store locations, but also enables the customer to receive their receipt via email or a message to their iPhone app.

The wonderful thing about some of the new social media tools available to marketers, technology geeks, and grandmas, is the ability for these tools to make interacting with their favorite and preferred stores or brands much easier. Forget about using Twitter to blast your latest rates or talk about going green with e-statements. Your members want banking to be easy. If you or your team can think of a way to make credit unioning easier for your members using social media, you’re on to something. Create a business plan around your idea and sell it to upper management. By making your social media strategy actionable with a clear goal in mind, you will position your credit union to be the envy of all of your competitors.