So your credit union now uses social media in an attempt to bring in much-coveted younger members. You’ve set up a branded page on Facebook. You’re tweeting about your latest product promotions on Twitter. You might even have a strong following by now.
But what does this really mean for your credit union and its business goals? Do the results thus far justify the resources you’ve allocated to social media?
The unfortunate answer at this stage of the game: probably not. It takes time, commitment, and effort to make social media a valuable piece of your marketing mix.
Before you can gauge the effectiveness of your social media efforts, it would be helpful to know what success looks like. These experts and credit union marketers offer some guidance:
Critical to the success of your social media efforts is a simple practice: Move beyond promoting your own products and interact with other communities and posts, says Nancy Dibert, owner of Epic Marketing. In other words, be “social.”
It’s like being at a community networking event, but in a different venue. Actively participating in other forums, groups, and blogs will keep you current on strategies others are using, she says.
Dibert employs a specific strategy as she helps clients set up social media programs. “We grow membership for our clients via Twitter by following others first,” she says. “We use proprietary software that allows us to monitor the stream within a zip code or range of zip codes. And we monitor these people to see if they tweet something financial.
“Then we’re able to reach out to them,” she continues. This allows the credit union to contact people who are looking for loans or who might be frustrated with their current financial institutions.
Engaging in communities and following influencers is key to Twitter success, she says. Twitter has performed better for one-to-one engagement with individual members, whereas Facebook allows for better engagement with select employee groups.
The Summit Federal Credit Union, Rochester, N.Y., lives by the “social” approach. The $650 million asset credit union uses social media predominantly to be relevant to members. One of the credit union’s main objectives is to add younger members. And to reach this market, the credit union believes it must use social media to be seen as fun, energetic, and relevant.
To achieve this and capture young potential members’ attention, The Summit Federal is creating a series of humorous posts, comments, and videos to send members via social media.
“We make it entertaining,” explains Randy Saltzman, vice president of marketing and business relationships. “We don’t sell. We do things that are engaging, and we use a cross-platform approach.”
“It’s trial and error,” adds Mike Vadala, president/CEO. “From a management perspective, you have to be able to give your staff some rope, be willing to take a little risk, and live with unpredictability.
“Ultimately, our goal is to be the source of something that 100,000 people want to share with others,” he adds. “But to achieve that, you have to do something no one has done before. It has to be really fun, engaging, touching, and big.”
Be prepared for negative posts, cautions Laura Seymour, The Summit Federal’s social media expert. “People have more guts to complain online. Be prepared with a policy, and respond within 24 hours. We usually respond within two hours.”
NEXT: Clear goals