I spend a lot of time in strategic planning sessions, and growth is almost always the dominant focus. A majority of our nation’s credit unions are considered small, with less than $50 million, and the sad reality is that most in this group are having a difficult time with membership, loan, and revenue growth.
Consequently, a focus on revenue growth leads to product sales and, for smaller credit unions, a conversation about Facebook and other social media options.
During a recent interview with social media guru Jessica Butterfield, my 22-year-old daughter, worker, student and world traveler, I was reminded again what consumers want from Facebook’s social media business pages. It’s very simple, and relevant to credit unions:
“Small businesses have to post information that I find useful. If they do, I will probably read it and share it with my friends,” Jessica said, citing the example of a local chiropractic business that periodically posts useful health tips. She always reads their posts and frequently shares them with her 766 friends. With some passion, Jessica then went on about her plan to “unfriend” a particular small business acquaintance whose every post is a hard sale.
Lessons from a social media guru
Jessica’s Facebook advice, and the collective wisdom of social media gurus like her, are extremely useful to credit unions:
- Keep content interesting and useful.
- Keep the content relevant to the target market.
- Don’t hard-sell.
- Post consistently, but don’t overwhelm.
A best practice that proves the point
First Kingsport Credit Union, a $29-million credit union located in Kingsport, Tenn., has a clear understanding of who they are and whom they serve. On Facebook, the credit union has an impressive 620 “likes,” which may not sound like much, but represents 19% of their 3,254 members.
Still not impressed? The $50 billion Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va., has attracted just 17% of its membership to its social media presence.
How does FKCU do it? Through the endorsement and promotion of things members care about, such as its local veterans group, a race car at the local speedway, country music concerts, and weekly Friday freebees that include must-haves like the FKCU cowbell. Couldn’t we all use a little more cowbell in our lives?
Truly, they have learned how to put the social in their social media strategy. Most importantly, FKCU President/CEO Beverly Boling has leveraged the credit union’s Facebook presence to gather approximately 3,500 email addresses that the credit union now uses for targeted promotional messages. Its Friday freebees draw hundreds into the credit union’s office every week. Why does all of this matter? Its 2012 return on assets was 1.07%, loan growth was 17.41%, and membership growth was 2.9%. Now who wouldn’t want to report those numbers to their board?
Social media matters for credit unions
If you are a credit union leader who thinks your members are not using social media, it’s time for a reality check. Research how your members or potential members are using social media, and identify the best way to engage the most people. Your target audience is on social media; the key is finding out which platforms they use the most, and making your credit union social on them.
There are many credit union leaders who truly believe in the power of social media, but simply are not utilizing social media platforms to their full potential. If you are a credit union who is not actively engaging effectively on social media, then it is time to start. Social media can be a major contributor to awareness, member service, growth and profitability if you utilize it effectively.
Does your credit union need more cowbell?
Your social media presence should be true to your organization’s personality and brand. It should reflect your members’ and community’s lifestyle. Tell your story, share real stories about members you’ve helped and why what you do matters. Be specific. It has to be more than “top-notch, friendly service.” Share information that is relevant and useful to ensure it gets read and shared. Be consistent and never hard-sell. Remember, people don’t buy what you do or what you have, they buy why you do it.
Scott Butterfield is the principal at Your Credit Union Partner.
253-507-2443 or firstname.lastname@example.org