Sunday, March 22, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Tim McAlpine (55 of 45)

So Tim McAlpine, is the first person in this series that I don't actually know. But he came highly recommended from mutual friend, Morris Partee, which was good enough for me. By way of background, Tim, is a self-proclaimed credit union fanboy. He is from Canada and his company, Currency Marketing, works exclusively with credit unions throughout North America. Tim and Currency are best known for Young & Free, a fully managed Generation Y marketing program licensed to one credit union in each US state and Canadian province. It combines a product launch with a spokesperson search wrapped in an integrated traditional and social media marketing strategy.

The original program for Servus Credit Union in Alberta, Canada ( launched in 2007 and won the 2008 Forrester Groundswell Award in the Talking Category besting the likes of American Express, GM, Intel, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Rubbermaid to name a few. The Young & Free program has since spread to Texas ( and South Carolina ( and is helping to make credit unions relevant to a new generation of potential members. Tim has just launched a central social network at to better connect this growing group of youth-centered credit unions. You are welcome to join and become part of your region's group.

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you're good at it.
I am hell-bent on helping credit unions spread their cooperative, good-news message to the next generation of members and I am good at it because I believe in helping people who are helping people—in this age of government bank bail-outs, it's good to know there is a legitimate and thriving alternative.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I am a reformed push marketer who was turned onto social media after starting my own professional blog in 2006. Although that's pretty late to the game, I quickly realized what I had been missing and turned our agency's focus from traditional marketing and branding to helping credit unions get involved with social media. I was amazed at how quickly I connected with other like-minded people and I have been hooked ever since.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of "social," which company would it be and why?
Facebook. It seems to be just hitting its stride. The development team continues to push new features and refine the experience. Plus, the membership continues to grow at an alarming rate. I also like that Facebook is willing to try new revenue and advertising schemes and are able to admit when they are wrong and react quickly. And unlike Twitter, Facebook is a business and readily admits that it is looking to turn a profit.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Barack Obama. To us Canadians, US politics is a spectator sport! Our federal election campaigns last about two months and have very little fanfare. The character that Barack showed over the past two grueling years is phenomenal. His campaign showcased the power of social media and community activation in a way that the world had never seen before. His desire to change the status quo and revolutionize the way that the public interacts with government is an unbelievably lofty goal and one that I believe will change the world for the better.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
Only if there were coupons to get free toothpaste. I'm not real passionate about my toothpaste choices or toothpaste's impact on the world. If I did join, it would probably end up being just one more password that I would forget.

Freeform – here's where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
I am excited to see where all of this is leading. Although RSS, social networking and blogging are about a decade old, it all still feels really fresh and new. Now that the business world has finally woken up to the fact that something is going on, it will be interesting to watch how the social web changes and matures over the next decade. In some regards, it feels like the innocense and initial excitement is gone, but I suspose that happens with everything as it goes mainstream and corporations get involved. Let's just hope that the future is not just one big sponsored conversation!

Tim can be found at @currencytim on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Tim is a true social media pioneer, and a tremendous asset to the CU movement. Glad that you didn't forget to check him out and interview him! (I think I recommended Tim to you about ten years ago in internet time.)
    -Morriss Partee