o Wayne Westland FCU is using a new website and Facebook presence in combination with the RateMatch service from a New York CUSO.
o The developers say the strategy will add hard value to social media time by directly linking existing and potential new members to each other and to favorable loan offers and useful information.
o The RateMatch service also can be used internally as well as through social media and the website.
Monetizing social media-getting some business out of all that face time on Facebook, in particular-has been something that credit unions have been looking to do ever since the new communications channels became a fact of life.
A New York CUSO and its software partner have teamed up in an effort to make that happen. and it's now gone into action at a suburban Detroit credit union.
Wayne Westland FCU is using its Facebook page, along with its home page at www.wwfcu.org, to push access to RateMatch, a service that compares auto, mortgage and home equity loans on credit reports with those of participating credit unions, shows the member how he or she can save money, and sends the information to the credit unions.
The service also provides rate comparisons for potential new loan applicants, as well as free credit reports and tips on how to secure lower loan rates and higher credit scores.
RateMatch is the brainchild of Syphr LLC and Chris Langley, president of the CUSO and its owner, the $60 million Eastern New York FCU in Napanoch, N.Y.
Langley is working with credit union marketing technologist Jason Green of Code Green LLC in Rockville, Md., to create Facebook and Web-based applications they say will help credit unions tighten their relationship with members through lower rates and useful, timely information delivered through popular new channels.
"What we found in talking to credit unions in addition to our own experience is that the toughest thing is getting consumers to engage. That's what started us down the path of this development process, and we worked closely with Jason to build out the functionality to where it is today," Langley said.
For the $66 million Wayne Westland FCU, the collaboration also involved CU Innovative Marketing, a local firm that built the credit union's new website and helps market its services in a total presence the credit union's CEO is confident will help the 10,600-member institution expand its reach.
"It won't be just our members using this, we hope. Pretty much anyone who goes to our site can use it, too, and that's really going to attract a lot of growth," said Thelma Dasho, Wayne Westland's chief executive officer.
"All these applications are very cost efficient for us at this point and they're putting us right where we need to be. I see nothing but great things coming out of it now," Dasho said. "We've got a beautiful website now, I believe, and put a lot of money into it and now we want everyone to use it. But for that to happen, we've got to give them the tools to do it."
Leveraging Facebook is one of those tools. In addition to RateMatch, Wayne Westland also regularly posts links through its "Youth Connection" to the Brass Show, a site that features financial information geared toward Gen Y and younger, all part of the credit union's strategy to attract and retain younger members.
Another tactic is making the power of RateMatch's rate-comparison tools available across the enterprise. "It can be used by any member or member service representative for nearly any loan purpose, including evaluating loans and helping to bring them back into the credit union," said Aaron Howard, director of marketing for CU Innovative Marketing. "And it's all part of a strong Internet marketing presence that Wayne Westland can use to get new members and new loans."
Driving eyeballs to the website and getting them talking about their experience through interactive applications on Facebook are both pieces of the ongoing process of making online marketing and functionality pay, Langley said, and the development process will continue.
"Syphr and Code Green are developing applications that are matched to members' credit and lifestyle," he said. "We believe apps tied to members' credit, identity and finances saves them time and money, which ultimately added value to credit unions that implement them." Green of Code Green said the work done toward making social media pay for Wayne Westland should be a harbinger of things to come for making the wildly popular Facebook site pay real dividends for credit unions, starting with putting loan offers in front of consumers at the very moment they're thinking of borrowing money. And getting people talking.
"Right now one of the main things changing hands on Facebook, if you will, is tips about how to raise imaginary farm animals. You can imagine the power of this when reality is applied to this space, when Sally Lou says, 'Hey, I just saved $100 a month by going to Wayne Westland,'" Green said.
"Now that's an actual useful, valuable thing and certainly is a way to monetize social media," he said.