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Corey Perlman believes consumers do business with people, not brands. Therefore, the social media expert and consultant suggests credit unions give consumers a look behind the curtain by using their community, culture, members, and employees to foster social media engagement.
“The more authentic we are in our social, the more engagement we get,” says Perlman, who addressed the CUNA Digital Marketing School Tuesday. “The first word is ‘social.’ These posts are not advertisements or billboards. We’re looking to create connection and engagement.”
That fits with the credit union movement’s mission of “people helping people,” as Perlman frequently cites credit unions as an industry that benefits from authentic social media.
“What I love about credit unions is people want to talk to their community,” which helps the community see the value and people behind the brand, he says. “The local feel in the community is the biggest differentiator between credit unions and banks, and social media is a tool for that.”
Showcasing that differentiator means going beyond a business-centered approach on social media and recognizing that being human is good for the business, he explains.
Perlman says the main benefits of being authentically social are that credit unions can:
Achieving these benefits requires leadership buy-in and the ability for employees to act as ambassadors. Perlman champions seven authentically social principles:
1. Prioritize your platforms. Don’t be a jack of all social media sites and a master of none. Examine your prospective member demographic, determine the sites your member base frequents, create accounts on those platforms, and post engaging content. He says most credit unions focus on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
2. Be more like the wise owl, less like the squawking parrot. Instead of continually squawking products and promotions, be more like a wise owl that whispers valuable comments that add value to members’ lives.
Perlman’s “three Es” of wise owl posts: educate (financial well-being), entertain (humanize the brand), and encourage (indirectly sell your value). To ensure you’re covering these bases, create a content calendar while keeping room open for spontaneous posts.
3. Show, don’t tell. Perlman says motion moves the needle on social media, and credit unions should create movement with elements like videos and slideshows. He also suggests participating in the features social media companies are promoting the most—such as Instagram carousels and reels—because they bring images to life, create experiences, and help gain traction within the algorithm.
Not every video has to be perfect, he says. “People don’t care necessarily how professional it looks. They care more about the content you’re creating.”
4. Talk more about your baristas, less about your coffee. Social media is less about your credit union and more about the people behind it, Perlman says. “Humanize your brand. Members, perspective members, and employees want to see you have a great culture.”
5. Make others the hero in your digital story. Turn your spotlight toward members, the community, and local businesses.
6. Recognize that doing good is good for business. Credit unions are built on helping people. Showcase that good on social media and let people know you appreciate their support.
7. Turn members into your digital salesforce. Perlman believes a verbal testimonial should never go unpublished. If a member or small business owner reaches out to thank your credit union, let them know the best way to say thanks is by posting on social media and tagging the business.
“If people can feel him and see him while he’s sharing it, there’s way more credibility in that testimonial,” Perlman says, adding that timing is everything. “If someone is excited about something, now’s the time to ask.”