In today’s world you can’t open a website or look at a print ad without seeing a symbol for Facebook, Twitter, or some other kind of social media site. Social Media is everywhere including the financial industry. Communication styles are changing, newspaper or television is no longer the only place to get accurate, current information. According to Socialbakers.com as of December 2011 there were over 845 million people using Facebook and one in every two people in America has a Facebook account.
However, effective social media does utilize strategy. Content is important. In an ovecommunicated and noisy world, meaningful content – instead of the standard fare of rates specials and marketing taglines – might be your most important differentiator. According to the Filene Research Institute you should be posting on average three times a day. Making more or less posts in a day were less successful. The right balance between frequency of posts and content is essential to gaining fans and maintaining them.
Some credit unions avoid social media because their staff is lean and they don’t have the expertise to fully manage it. There are plenty of outside consultants in this industry. Best Advantage Credit Union, a 7200 member shop, needed help and reached out 5-person marketing consultancy Chatter Yak. Best Advantage’s key employees went through a bootcamp that focused on content, frequency, options for scheduling posts and a variety of other topics. After the bootcamp, and after refining their content and frequency of posting, Best Advantage saw a 53% increase in Fans in less than 3 months! Outside consultants are a great way to help get things off the ground.
One of the biggest hurdles credit unions still face is participation from management and a focused team. Making sure all members of the team share the same vision and create an action plan, can create a more unified voice and help share effort needed to maintain a growing presence and online community of advocates. Social media is, just like the name implies, a social and inherent group-driven activity. Your team can include the coordinator, the motivator, content developer and idea generator. To gain full team support, Best Advantage Credit Union met to fully explain what it really means to the credit union and educate them on the types of social media and the power it has. This team member buy-in may take several meetings to understand how it can impact sales, revenue, and member satisfaction; however the time and investment taken to earn the buy-in is crucial.
Make sure to share your successes with your team as you go. Talk regularly about positive comments, impressive reactions from your team, unexpected displays of creativity from your members, and progress towards your bottom-line goal. And talk critically about how to improve each of those things as your outreach moves forward.
Social media is growing rapidly and changing just as fast. Staying up to date, educated, and strategic in your approach is key for long term success. Remember to be adaptable. It’s okay to start rough, and be wrong. But it’s not okay to stay wrong.
Don Emmer has been with Best Advantage Credit Union since 2007. He started out as a teller, and then moved to a member specialist, to now working as a Financial Architect. His goals are endless in this industry and he hopes to continue to grow personally and professionally. www.bacu.com
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots group of young people working in credit unions and cooperatives. Founded in 2010, they connect and enable those fighting for the future of socially-responsible finance. For more info, or to join, visit them at www.trust.coop.