Are You Linked? Credit Unions Look to Human Resources for Social Media Policies

By: John Floyd, chairman and CEO, JMFA

As consumers rely more on social media to stay informed, get connected, and interact with the marketplace, credit unions have an opportunity to reach more audiences through more avenues than ever before possible—and reach them fast.

From internal employee communications to external marketing of new products, social networking sites disseminate your messages quickly, with immediate feedback.

The number of users today is staggering. More than 1 billion on Facebook. Some 500 million on Twitter. And 200 million and growing on LinkedIn. Not to mention sites like Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, and Blogs, all of which continue to attract increased traffic.

Keep in mind, however, when you open up these new channels of communication and interaction with internal and external audiences, you also open the door to security, compliance and reputational risks—unless you have a firm policy in place to control social media usage and conduct.

A social media policy—one that clearly outlines how your institution and its employees should be represented in the virtual community—is imperative today. Your policy should be specific, with clear rules on when and how employees may use social media. It should do everything possible to protect network security, the privacy of your members and staff, and the credit union’s reputational integrity.

For reputational purposes, it’s a good idea to implement guidelines on how to address discourteous or disrespectful comments from internal personnel or social media followers, and what course to take in the event information needs to be removed from a site.

Make sure all employees understand your organization’s definition of social media, as well as how they should conduct themselves when representing or discussing the credit union on a selected network. Schedule training opportunities where a designated social media contact can go over the usage policy and ensure your staff understands the importance of adhering to this organization-wide code of conduct—and the consequences of violating those policies. Your social media plan should include periodic follow-up training to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest compliance guidelines and risks, to avoid any regulatory or reputational consequences.

While no case law currently exists for dealing with employee use or abuse of social network sites, you can create a positive flow of content and interaction, and protect your financial institution, by establishing responsible use policies from the outset.


Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of aggregation to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2013 and beyond: 206.340.4789,

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