There’s something new happening in the world of social media.  It’s an interesting idea and one that seems to be catching on, at least in some circles.

But the key question is whether it is a new direction that will take hold, or a passing fad that will disappear before it really gets any traction.

Here’s what is happening.

New websites are popping up that are essentially mini-Facebook sites targeted to groups with common areas of interest.  In some cases these are entirely new sites created by thought leaders who are seeking to provide a place where like-minded individuals can connect with others who share their interests.  In other cases they are existing websites with a membership base adding a new feature to their services, i.e., a social networking function.

At first glance, this sounds like an interesting and potentially valuable approach for credit unions to consider.  Your members have a common interest and they may be interested in the opportunity to connect with others who share that interest without having to deal with the inherent noise of an open community, i.e., Facebook.

On the other hand, the prospect of having yet another place to check in each day and another set of conversations to participate in may be too daunting to engage them.  That was my initial reaction to seeing this new development–the last thing I need or want is one more stream coming into my already overcrowded information flow.

That is what leads me to ask the question:  Is this emerging social media trend a mistake or an opportunity to build stronger relationships with your members?

The best answer at the moment is probably that it depends.

It depends on your members and what they want.  It depends upon your team and its ability to manage such an initiative in addition to what they are already doing.  And it depends upon the goals you have defined for your social media efforts.

If your objective is to build a place that serves your credit union members and provides them with access to ‘members only’ information while enabling them to engage with other members online, then this approach might have real value for your credit union.

But if your objective is to connect with your members where they already are without adding more work for them, then this may not be something you want to consider at this point.

ACTION ADVICE: Monitor this development and its evolution across the coming months.  Chances are there will be much more written about it as it unfolds, and there will be valuable lessons to be learned from those who are currently walking this path.  If you know of one of these, consider signing up and monitoring it to see firsthand what it happening so you can evaluate the potential of the approach for your credit union.

It’s Your Turn…What do you think about this emerging trend?  Do you think that having a social media function on your website would help or hurt your relationship with your members?  Please take a moment and share your thoughts…