Credit unions are slowly navigating their way to connect with members online.
With all the doubt surrounding the merits of financial institutions on Facebook, SECU of Maryland may have found a way to make it work.
The Linthicum, Md.-based credit union has taken to Facebook as a financial education delivery tool. It has been positioned as a resource where consumers can find the financial answers they want and need.
"Our purpose on Facebook is to give people a forum to ask questions and enhance their financial literacy," said Rod Staatz, SECU president/CEO. "We want to expand SECU’s value as a source for viable and valuable financial information. With consumers in the 18-35 age range who have strongly indicated that they prefer to interact online, the goal is to engage and educate–not push products."
One of the greatest challenges beyond the debate of the merits of being on such social networks has been how credit unions can strike the right social media balance. "Clearly, social media represents an opportunity for us to engage our members in a conversation about general financial topics in a way that previously was unavailable," said Staatz.
In New York, Actors Federal Credit Union has taken another approach and opened its home page to let members share their experiences with the credit union through "You Said It!"
"This is something we’ve been talking about and working on for a while," said Steven Sobotta, director of marketing at Actors FCU. "It was important to us that it be a dynamic and interactive–not just a static–testimonial page, so we made it as easy as possible for members to post their experiences and upload their color headshot."
In addition to the You Said It! section on the website, the marketing department provided quick-response code cards to all the branches for frontline staff and loan officers to hand out to members.
"What’s so exciting is that members can scan the You Said It! cards on their smartphones, and they can just enter their comment and upload their pictures right from their phone. It all goes back to being interactive: we want to know what our members think, so even if we get a negative comment that’s an opportunity for growth. Ultimately good customer service is not just about what we do right but how quickly we respond and fix problems."
In Sacramento, Calif., The Golden 1 Credit Union has also been working on building a more meaningful dialogue on Facebook.
"Facebook is set up for interactive communication, that’s the expectation of the users and so we opened it up because that two-way communication is the whole idea behind Facebook," said Donna Bland, president/CEO of The Golden 1. "Members ask questions, get responses and one of the greatest values in this type of communication has been our ability to clarify issues like letting members know we do have a Droid application coming out soon."
She added that the exchanges with friends and fans have helped personalize the credit union.
The Golden 1’s Facebook page also lets members know about local events, seminars and even serves as a recruiting tool for new talent as it has a careers section with a link back to open positions on its website.