Many small businesses, including credit unions, are quickly discovering that successful social media marketing takes more than knowing how to send a tweet. It entails devising a plan that fits into an overall strategy.
That was the topic of discussion at the third SMB Social Media Makeover Forum, held Sep. 20 at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business and organized by the Atlanta-based social media consulting firm LISTEN Interactive.
The $227.4 million Partner Colorado Credit Union in Arvada, Colo. was one of two small businesses chosen to receive social media marketing advice from experts who work for big brands before a live audience at the event. Joining Partner Colorado CU on stage for a social media consultation was House Lights Media, a Denver-based independent film distribution company.
Prior to participating in the event, the credit union had a website and Facebook and Twitter accounts but no specific strategy for fostering communication through social media, according Kathy Sianis, vice president of retail services and marketing for Partner Colorado CU. The credit union also had around 25,000 members, yet only 41 followers, she added.
During their live discussion, which took place with representatives from Frontier Airlines and RE/MAX, Partner Colorado CU learned that its first step to social media marketing success should be convincing its entire staff to embrace social media.
“We learned that you have to sell it internally before you can expect it to sell externally,” Sianis said. “We need to get all of our employees entrenched in it, so that when they talk to members, they’ll ask them if they’re on Facebook and if they’re following us.”
Partner Colorado CU also learned the value of using social media as a place for members to express their thoughts and opinions, Sianis said. Since the forum, she said the credit union has been holding meetings to discuss social media plans going forward and revamping its Facebook page with photos and relevant information.
Dan Greenfield, president for LISTEN Interactive, said around 80 professionals from large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations and credit unions attended the event, which included a lot of interaction and covered a wide territory.
“We pulled together large brands and shared ideas on what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “It was very community-driven.”
Conversations between professionals spawned some key social media marketing takeaways for attendees, Greenfield said. These included creating a pilot program and using just a few social marketing tools to start out with, tying social media content to a business calendar of events and holidays, and allowing customers to tell your online story for you through posts and photos.
Sianis emphasized that there is no instant fix for a business that lacks a successful social media marketing plan.
“The forum was great for sharing ideas,” she said.