It's :) Vs. :( When It Comes To Comments About CUs

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People continue to blog about credit unions.

Even though most credit unions themselves don't blog, a myriad of members feel free to rant and rave in web logs (blogs) about their credit unions. (For more information about blogs, see related article, page 1.)

Members' comments are often laid bare on blogs for the world to read. These candid and publicly posted journals paint mixed impressions of credit unions and their employees.

"Many credit unions don't realize that, through blogs, conversations are going on about them right in the public domain for all to search and see," asserted Trey Reeme, executive vice president at Trabian Technology, a business application and development company in Plano, Texas.

Take, for instance, the blog posts at:

* The Bad Service page of a blog called Live Journal, where "fiery mermaid" complains that a CU's "weird high-tech facility" with video tellers "broke the camel's back" coming on the heels of a "funky debit card and increased checking fees."

* Mommy Needs Coffee, where a writer and stay-at-home Mom rants "our credit union sucks" in regards to holiday closings; and

* A blog with the theme, "Stuff that may or may not interest you," where a reader answers back with "banks suck" as he raves about the free banking at his CU.

In response, some credit unions are using online search engines to keep tabs on the compliments and complaints.

Chuck Bruen, the CEO of Hollywood-based First Entertainment CU and credit union blog guru, advises all CUs to create a free "Google Alert," an automatic, web-based service that will search blog and news sites by CU name and can help a company "monitor competitors" and "safeguard (its) reputation," according to GoogleAlert.com.

"I search other blogs to see if I can find postings about Verity Credit Union," confirmed Shari Storm, vice president-marketing at the $330-million CU in Seattle.

"If you have a blogger or an employee railing against you, you should know about it," she asserted. "But I haven't stumbled across any postings, good or bad, about Verity yet."

More often, a blog search reveals Verity CU's own blog-and free advertising for the credit union, Storm said. "After a Google search, people stumble upon our credit union more easily."

Credit union vendors are also interested in the blog buzz. "Through RSS news feeds and search engines like Google Blog Search, I search for new posts containing the words 'credit union,' " said Trabian's Reeme.

"If I come across a negative member post on a personal blog, I see it as an opportunity for a credit union to explain, 'Thanks for bringing these concerns to our attention. Here's what we're doing to address each one,' " he said.

However, instead of responding to the millions of potential posts at each blog on the web, Reeme encourages credit unions to sponsor their own blogs and blog "on their own terms.

"A traditional website doesn't allow for a conversation," Reeme continued. "Blogs do."

"If a visitor leaves a negative comment on your blog, you have an opportunity to post a comment in reply that could change their opinion of you for the better. And the rest of the world gets to see your response."

CUJ Resources

For info on this story:

* First Entertainment CU at www.firstent.org

* Verity CU at www.veritycu.com

* Trabian Technology at www.trabian.com

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