The social web as community platform.

Vancity, like many mission-driven organizations, is involved with lots of community activities and events. We ask our members to vote for organizations to donate money to and for our Board of Directors, as well as asking them to engage in a variety of community events that we’re involved with or sponsor.

Now that has been operating for almost a year and has well over 1,000 registered users, it’s big enough we can use this community platform to engage people in the issues we are involved with. Let me make it clear that we won’t use it to promote our product or services, our rates or promotions, nor our main credit union or banking functions. But we can use it to engage people in the myriad of community activities we’re involved with, activities that our members say they want to know more about.

Now, every mission-driven organization doesn’t need their own social networking site to do this. Vancity’s Online Community Moderator, Kate recently used Facebook as well as to launch our Bike Share Program. The details, as well as how to get involved are listed at, but she used Facebook as a way to get the word out about the kickoff event. You can see our Facebook event here.

I would argue that Facebook represents an important, free opportunity for credit unions to leverage, and expand the knowledge of what they’re doing in the community among their members and prospects. Not as a place to directly acquire new members (although that may be a happy outcome), but as a place to engage your community (whether members or not) around your mission. It’s an advantage credit unions have over banks because they’re inherently more community-oriented and therefore have more credibility in a place where people gather online.

When I first happily got sucked into the world of Facebook, I noticed that there were already two Vancity groups, one for employees and one for investors. These weren’t created by Vancity intentionally, but the community wanted a place to discuss issues about us. We can either be passive and watch these conversations about us take place, or we can engage back and inform these discussions, not direct them, but get involved and see what we can learn by doing so. As long as the people involved understand and respect Facebook and aren’t there just to obviously shift the focus to a sales and service approach, we should find ample opportunity there.

Oh, and next time you’re on Facebook, please say hello.

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