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Credit Unions Get Their Groove On with Harlem Shake

Credit Unions Get Their Groove On with Harlem Shake

After hearing about how Wells Fargo employees were chastised for performing the Harlem Shake in their office, which was inconsistent "with the corporate image the bank is trying to project," Credit Unions Online wanted to see how credit unions felt about this whimsical and downright funky form of social media expression.

What we found is that credit unions don’t have a problem with shaking their booty and getting down on camera as we uncovered a number of credit unions that not only allowed but also embraced the Harlem Shake…and more.

Senior Management Encourages A Fun Image

Best Advantage Credit Union ($60.3 million, Sherwood, WI) President and CEO Tammy Williams said that not only did senior management support shooting this video, they all participated as well.

“Everyone participates,” she says. “Senior management fully supports the initiatives of our social media and we also have teamwork and fun and two of our core values, so items like Harlem Shake aides to both of those.”

Williams adds that the credit union uses opportunities like the Harlem Shake to build camaraderie and teamwork. “The taping of the videos are done in conjunction with our team meetings and we use it as our teamwork exercise. Again, we value teamwork and fun so it is a great way to live both of the core values. We have a strong creative and innovative culture and our ability to react to change, my crew expects change from me constantly, allows us to introduce videos or products or whatever the case in order to remain relevant and be first to market with it.”

At Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union ($1 billion, Lowell, MA), the CEO was front and center in this credit union’s version. “Senior management was fine with the idea, even our CEO participated in the video, in fact he is the one slow dancing,” says Michelle Silveira, senior vice president/chief marketing officer. “Once the idea was shared with our employees, the video was filmed two days later. It came together very quickly.”

The Harlem Shake video at Texas Trust Credit Union ($738 million, Mansfield, TX) consisted primarily of marketing department folks, but the video was performed with senior management blessing.

“Our video was a small group of marketing folks,” explains Amber Danford, senior vice president of marketing and business development. “Their jobs are to be creative and show a fun environment. This was a quick video, limited time used to create it and easy to put out there on our You Tube channel and our Facebook page. As the senior vice president, I reviewed it and quickly gave my approval. This video is the only sanctioned Texas Trust Harlem Shake video that is posted on behalf of Texas Trust. Our entire credit union team are brand ambassadors and understand the importance of the Texas Trust brand. Therefore, a standard protocol is followed regarding anything communicated to our members, communities or through social networks.”

Freedom of Expression Is the Credit Union Way

Many credit union executives have mentioned that they don’t subscribe to the ivory tower philosophy often found at most banks and want to be real and relatable to their members.

“Strategically, we've been using Facebook as a tool to reach out to our membership in a way that is relatable to them and social media allows for us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and for consumers to see our personality,” Williams explains.

In fact Best Advantage is no stranger to video regalement. In the past the credit union shot Dance Party Fridays, which prompted credit unions across the country to contact Best Advantage. “When we stopped them, to change it up a bit, we had members comment that they missed them,” Williams recalls.

Silveira agrees that the project was a great way to spotlight the credit union difference. “We decided to do the video because of the momentum it was receiving on you tube. It was a fun, easy way to showcase a different side of the employees and show that a credit union can be cool too.”

Members Love It!

The public must love to see their banker loosen the tie as NBC11 Atlanta reports that over 140,000 people have viewed the rogue Wells Fargo version of the Harlem Shake.

While not clocking in at the same view magnitude, credit unions are reveling in the attention the video has snagged. “We received about 600 views, several 'How Fun!' or ' Way to Go Texas Trust' comments,” Danford says. “It is above average in viewership, but not our highest viewed video. Texas Trust's goal in its social media strategy is to engage our members through relevant, fun content that the whole family can relate to. This is just one example of it.”

Jeanne D’Arc shared its video on the credit union’s Facebook page and received over 1,000 hits. “Members were sharing it with their family and friends,” Silveira says. “It showcased the employees as real people having some fun. We also included our mascots, Cash & Violet, who are part of our M3 Savings Club for children 12 and under.”

Williams says that she’s just thrilled that the videos are allowing her employees to communicate the spirit of Best Advantage Credit Union.

“We've been doing videos for the past year and it has been a positive response. Interesting that you ask about how this video communicates fun and family...this week on Facebook we asked ‘If you could describe BACU in one word, what would it be?’ Among the answers were fun and family!”

Check out the Harlem Shake videos, courtesy of YouTube:

Find a nearby credit union and see how they have fun.

By Gina Ragusa
Published April 5, 2013
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