Andrea Parrish’s first big social media hit was personal in nature. Back in 2010, she and her fiancé, Peter Geyer, decided to pay for their wedding with the proceeds from recycling aluminum cans.
Their efforts went viral. (Just do a Google search for Andrea Parrish + wedding + aluminum cans.)
“When the BBC calls and asks for your Twitter account, you don’t say you don’t have one,” she says. “You say, ‘I’ll figure that out and get the information right over to you.’ So, I kind of got thrown into the fire of digital marketing. I didn’t have an option to figure it out. I just did it.”
Indeed, she embraced it. Parrish now serves as digital brand manager at $2.9 billion asset STCU in Spokane, Wash. That title understates her influence.
“Andrea has been my personal rock star when it comes to CUNA Digital Marketing School,” says Ariel Bilskey, director of blended learning at CUNA. “She shares her knowledge openly with other credit union marketers.”
Sharing knowledge is something that Parrish takes to heart. “I would much prefer that people do their social media and their digital marketing well and find success, rather than throwing a bunch of money at something that may or may not help,” she says.
“Part of that comes from my upbringing. Both my parents were small-business owners,” Parrish says. “My mom ran a catering business, and my dad moved houses for a living, so I understand how wasteful it is to spend a ton of money on something that doesn’t work.”
She says she loves social media for its ability to connect people—and she seeks a connection beyond “pictures of people’s food and talking about their kids.”
Listen to a CUNA News Podcast with Andrea Parrish.
“Don’t get me wrong; food and kids are awesome, but social media also has the ability to connect people who otherwise wouldn’t have been connected,” she explains. “It just takes something to get that conversation going.”
So, Parrish asks questions. She’s been asking a different question on social media every weekday since 2013. She has a database of more than 1,600 questions. She even has a tattoo that reads, “Love the questions themselves.”
“When you ask a question, it doesn’t have to be the perfect question, it’s just important that you’re inviting conversation,” she explains. “That’s how people connect and empathize with others. I think that’s pretty darn awesome, and one of the best things about social media.”