MEDFORD, Ore.-The Financial Brand is advising credit unions to steer away from Google+, the social networking site launched by the search giant in 2011 to compete with Facebook.

The Financial Brand's "2013 State of Retail Bank Marketing" report found that 18.3% of all banks and CUs currently use the site, with 7.6% (1 in every 13) planning to join this year. The company said its study found notes 64% of CUs that once had active G+ accounts have abandoned them.

"In fact, you really have to look hard to find a credit union that is still active on Google+ today," it said.

Fewer than 30 CUs are active on Google+, the research found, , and more than half of credit union "+1s" (similar to a "Like" on Facebook) come courtesy of Navy FCU.

The Financial Brand called Google+ "a death sentence" and "by far the lamest major social media network around today. Even MySpace is better." It cited a poor user experience, abulky and complex interface, and said that ultimately it offers no real advantage over Facebook.


'Huge Waste of Time'

"The Financial Brand has frequently asserted that social media (at least for many) financial institutions can be a huge waste of time, particularly for those who refuse to contend with the harsh realities they face," the site said. "While there may be specific and limited applications for some financial institutions on some major social channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Google+ is without question a total bust."

The company continues to recommend that FIs pick one or two social channels and drop the others, in large part because each site takes time to update and maintain while offering limited return.

"The best a bank or credit union can hope for is to excel in only one social media channel, with perhaps mediocre success in a second," it said. Only a few FIs worldwide will be the exception to this rule, it stressed, and those exceptions tend to be household brand names, such as the top 200 global banks.

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