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How internal social media platforms are transforming credit unions

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Step aside, Facebook and Twitter, there’s a new social platform out there – and it’s only available at Coastal Federal Credit Union.

Employees of the Raleigh, N.C.-based institution utilize Kazoo, an internal social media platform that the credit union initially launched in 2015 under the name “You Earned It.” According to Joe Mecca, VP of communications, the product needed a few tweaks. Along with renaming it, the program – which focuses on employee recognition – was expanded to include not just management, but all employees, as well as call center staffers representing the CU in the CO-OP Member Center

“Prior to using Kazoo, it was a very disjointed effort, without a lot of visibility,” he explained. “Now, recognition is centralized, trackable and very visible. It also opens up awarding recognition to anyone.”

The $3.2 billion-asset credit union isn’t the only institution taking proactive measures when it comes to an internal social media network, explained Andrea DiGiacomo, chief operating officer at the Baltimore-based consulting firm Think Stack.

“We have seen organizations leveraging newer in-house intranets, such as Microsoft’s Yammer, which allow employees to communicate in a less formal way. This also allows employees to share ideas and feedback,” she said. “Many credit unions are also starting to use programs such as Slack or [Microsoft’s] Teams to add chat functionality.”

With 2650,000 members and 23 branches, Coastal CU has a total of 638 employees, including call center staff, using Kazoo. The Kazoo website can be accessed from anywhere and is also available via iOS and Android apps, explained Mecca.

Some of the service’s most popular features include recognizing employee birthdays, employment anniversaries and “high fives,” which are tantamount to a Facebook “like.” And while employees are not required to use Kazoo, Mecca said staff are encouraged to do so. Managers, however, are expected to recognize employees’ achievements using Kazoo.

“The most popular activity is giving high fives — probably because it’s incredibly easy to do,” said Mecca. “An employee might only post a couple recognitions in a month and comment on a few more, but it’s very easy to scroll through the timeline and high five as many posts as they want.”

More than 1,300 recognitions were received in the last year, along with more than 6,600 high fives and 2,700 comments. Mecca reported that 97% of all current employees have logged into Kazoo, with 53% giving some sort of recognition and 74% on the receiving end of those good wishes.

The cost of high fives

Mecca estimated that Kazoo will cost Coastal about $51,000 this year. While ROI is difficult to determine because it was launched in conjunction with a variety of other employee programs, he said, the response from employees has been promising.

“We’ve seen high levels of employee engagement and we keep winning best-places-to-work awards,” said Mecca. “And, we’re seeing a high level of usage of the platform.”

Coastal placed 12th overall in last year’s Best CUs rankings, coming in at No. 5 for institutions with assets over $1 billion.

In DiGiacomo’s estimation, internal social media platforms have far-reaching benefits, especially for younger employees or those new to an organization.

“We have seen this increase communication across the organization and the feelings of community and comradery amongst employees,” she said. “This also allows ideas to be shared, which in turn can further motivate the millennial employees.”

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