LAS VEGAS -- With all of the encouragement and warnings of being left behind, it's probably safe to say that the credit union industry is getting the message that engaging in some form of social media is essential to keep up with members.
"Whoever has the data wins. It has come down to that," said John Fish, global director of strategy and innovation at AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company. "It's now about how do I listen and learn."
Fish said it is a perfect storm for CUs to embrace social media on many levels. The grass roots movement against banks encouraging customers to move their money is one example of that timing. This is the optimal time for the industry to prove the benefits of membership and advocacy, he said. And, it's not just about appealing to Generation Y. The fastest growing Facebook users are 55-to-65-year old females.
"Banks can never own the space 'we the people, for the people, by the people,'" Fish said. "The challenge is can [credit unions] be authenticated?"
Fish showed several visuals of CU sites that have Facebook pages and suggested posts be more than announcing a new product or service. By posing a question, more members are likely to share their unique experiences. Having a "community manager" monitoring posts who is "smart enough to be a listener and engage or influence when they can" is an important role. And while credit unions may not have the large branch networks like some banks, they can still provide mobile technology to fill in the gap, he suggested.
"Just having posts won't work. You need to have conversations. What you're posting needs to be relevant," Fish said.
Companies such as USAA Bank, Best Buy, Starbucks Coca-Cola and Marmite, a maker of a yeast extract snack, are successfully using social media sites to not only build loyal followers but produce new revenue streams. At the other end of the spectrum, Bank of America, Domino's and United Airlines have failed in some instances to use sites like YouTube to respond to backlashes posted by customers about shoddy customer service, Fish said.
"At the end of the day, it's about message in, message out. Who are the members we need to go after and what will be of value for them."