Seeking Social Media Success? Be the ‘Community Hub’

CUs have a great opportunity to build relationships with those disillusioned by banks, says social media guru Chris Brogan.

April 25, 2012

Chris Brogan’s advice for harnessing the power of social media boils down to two simple words: Be helpful.

Too often, he says, companies “push to talk and advertise instead of learning how to listen and build stronger ties to the community,” says Brogan, president of Human Business Works and co-author of the best-selling Trust Agents. “People spend too much time worrying about their reputation and not enough time being helpful.”

Brogan, who will address the 2012 America’s Credit Union Conference June 17-20 in San Diego, reveals how credit unions can reap the benefits of becoming trust agents, the next big thing in social media—and his fascination with Ganesh, the Hindu god of removing obstacles.

CU Mag: How can CUs use the power of the Web and social networks to build trust among their members?

Brogan: Credit unions have such a huge opportunity here. To be the community hub is the real goal of a credit union.

You don't want to store people's money. You want a relationship that goes beyond that.

How do you do that? Be part of the community. Don’t make yet another social network inside your website walls. Be where the people are. Connect on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere.

But on top of that, consider using your email newsletter as a connection hub. Do something where you help others in the community learn about the people who you should praise the most: your members.

CU Mag: How can a CU reap the benefits of becoming a trust agent?

Brogan: Banking is in a horrendous state right now. I have a membership at my credit union, and have since the 1980s, but I also have a commercial bank account for my corporation. I loathe that bank.

You have so many opportunities to earn the disillusioned, the miserable, and those who will grow to really support your credit union simply by earning their attention and trust.

How do you do that? Be helpful. It's the same advice. That advice will never change.

And “helpful” does not mean selling people things. It means helpful. If they need a babysitter, help them find one. I'm not even joking.

CU Mag: Which companies harness social and online networks especially well and what can CUs learn from them?

Brogan: Credit unions can learn by doing. Why wait around and observe other industries?

This is always a tricky question to answer. I can name thousands of businesses who are doing this well because they started back in 2007. Now, over five years later, your role is to build a community of energetic people who see you as the “elbow of every deal,” meaning that you help them succeed.

If you must model after someone, pick someone like a hotel. The Colonnade Hotel (@colonnade) in Boston is doing great community work.

CU Mag: What will be the next big thing in social media?

Brogan: Snackable content is already the next big thing. Pinterest is huge already and it just started.

You probably had never really heard or thought much about Instagram until Facebook bought them for a billion dollars. It's huge to consider. 

CU Mag: What book is on your nightstand?

Brogan: I'm reading a book about Ganesh, the Hindu god of removing obstacles.

My girlfriend and I are in a band that mixes several thousand-year-old chants with modern music and beats, so we add rock and dance to really old Sanskrit prayers.

This book is fascinating because the Hindu belief of multiple gods is that mostly these are just parts of us—traits that we humanize but that are parts of us—meaning that we are the remover of obstacles. I'm digging it.

CU Mag: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Brogan: I wanted to be a writer. I meant fiction and comic books.

Now that I've written for several magazines, have become a New York Times bestselling author, and am handing in my fourth book, I guess I hit the mark.

CHRIS BROGAN is president of Human Business Works, a media and education company, and The New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents. His blog is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150. Brogan will address the 2012 America’s Credit Union Conference, which runs June 17-20 in San Diego.