The question I’m asked most is, “Where is the credit union industry going with social media?”
I’m not a fortune teller or soothsayer, but I think the industry is still a few years away from seeing the full potential of social media. It’s been a slow social media adoption process, but it’s getting better.
I think this quote from a recent interview with Dave Fleet, senior vice president at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, gives a nice view of where social media is headed in general: “Social media as an experiment is coming to an end.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve spent more than a year building social media platforms and engagement at CUNA Mutual Group. Here’s what I’ve learned about the people and organizations in credit union land: you want to do social media, but you’re just not sure what works.
For many of you, I’ve become a social media therapist, guidance counselor and even a friend. And, today I want to show you that the work we all have been doing on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, etc. – is paying off.
Recently, our marketing research team surveyed 160 credit unions about their current and future plans to use social media. Yes, Facebook is wildly popular with credit unions; 94% currently invest time and money into it for their marketing strategies. Twitter comes in second at 58%. Take a look at this bit of information from the survey:
- 77% of credit unions are developing or enhancing their social media strategies for 2013.
- 2013 new social media investments are moving toward mobile apps, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.
What does this mean? In 2012, there wasn’t enough data to determine social media investments for mobile apps and Google+. Now in 2013, according to the survey, 74% of credit unions are devoting time, money and people to the development of mobile apps. We’ve gone from nothing to 74%? That’s amazing. And 24% plan on spending time and money to build their Google+ presence. This wild jump in adoption rates should scream to you that the industry is ready to take social media marketing seriously.
As with all ventures into new social media waters, there comes a new set of challenges for credit unions such as updated operating systems, proper gadgets like HD Webcams or smartphones able to access all of the tools of the platform. But two challenges remain the top issues for credit unions and social media. According to the survey, 83% of credit unions said insufficient staff and time are the biggest barriers to getting more value out of social media. It’s a tough issue, but from my experience, these reasons come from a flawed beginning to a social media strategy.
From my years of experience building and executing social media strategies, the biggest problem I’ve run into is people and organizations setting up a Facebook account or Twitter feed just because “everyone else is doing it.” When you set up a social media account, you have to think about it as a future tool, not just a thing to use today. Asking questions like, “how can we use this three years from now?,” can help guide how and why you execute a social media strategy.
The entire credit union industry needs to realize that social media is not going away. For example, let’s look at these numbers from the survey of intermediate users, which are those credit unions using social media for the past one to three years:
A majority of credit unions are intermediate users and they are the primary investors in future social media use.
95% of intermediate users use Facebook, 55% use Twitter and 41% use LinkedIn.
Now, look at the social media evolution when we see the numbers from our advanced users or those credit unions using social media for three years or more. One hundred percent are using Facebook, 83% Twitter and 70% YouTube. These numbers show us the longer you use social media, the more willing and able you are to branch out into new social media platforms to connect with members.
How are those advanced users using social media to market themselves?
- 97% use social media to provide credit union news, alerts, education and information.
- 97% use social media to build credit union awareness.
- 93% use social media to promote credit union events.
- 73% use social media to communicate with members, provide feedback and respond to comments.
That 73% finding is probably the most important because customer service and marketing are bleeding into one place – social media.
Let me make one last point from our social media survey. One percent of credit unions surveyed are not planning to use social media in 2013. While that may seem strange, think about you and your credit union two or three years ago. Were you even in the social media game? I’m sure that percentage was a lot higher than 1% in 2010. So I’m actually thrilled with these results.
From my vantage point, I believe credit unions are on the brink of something fantastic with social media in 2013. Think about the technological advances we’ve seen with mobile and video capabilities in social media in 2012.
So to the question, “Where is the credit union industry going with social media?” My honest answer is, next is education. Then, finally a comfort level with social media in the industry.