In 2010, as Mississippi’s Young and Free “spokester”—a job she competed for via social media—Sarah Dale Harmon drove up and down Mississippi in a bright purple car visiting credit unions.
Meeting people who operate service-oriented, cooperative credit unions helped her decide on her career path. After her stint with the Young and Free youth marketing campaign, she attended the Credit Union Development Education program in 2011, and later was hired as marketing specialist at $132 million asset Magnolia Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Miss.
“Credit unions have products and services created for the sole purpose of helping people,” notes Harmon. "That’s something I can feel good about. I don’t have to ‘sell’ anything to members—I just have to be honest with them.”
Since joining Magnolia Federal, Harmon has overhauled its Facebook/Twitter pages and added other social media networks such as Vine, Pinterest, Blogger, and Instagram.
“Social media is an inexpensive way to promote our products and services, communicate with our members, and increase our presence in the community,” she says.
Harmon makes Magnolia Federal’s Facebook page attractive by updating it daily, giving away prizes on Trivia Tuesday, and posting articles, tips, and pictures of staff out in the community.
“Sarah Dale’s social media results are astounding,” says Lanet McCrary, vice president of marketing and business development. "The ‘Likes’ on our Facebook page increased from just over 200 in October 2012 to more than 3,600 today.”
Magnolia Federal had reached approximately 26,000 people through Facebook as of May 2013—a figure that grows monthly, with most of those contacts residing within its field of membership.
Magnolia’s statistics are impressive. In the first half of this year, membership increased 7.6%, checking accounts and online banking grew by approximately 10%, and mobile banking was up more than 21%.
In addition to handling all digital marketing, Harmon also serves as Magnolia’s “Adopt-a-School” liaison, recently working with a school located in the community surrounding the credit union’s newest branch.
“Sarah Dale has amazing social media skills and the ability to reach our local youth,” says McCrary. “We aren’t a huge credit union,” adds Harmon, “but with a little initiative and smart use of our advertising dollars, we’ve really had some success.”