Credit unions should have it made. As cooperatives with defined fields of membership and members with common experiences, social media should be a natural extension of built-in affinity.
That theory is nice, but our latest report on social media expands on what many credit unions are discovering: that deep member engagement with social media comes only after a lot of work.
And, there’s still a lot of work to do. Nearly 40% of the credit unions studied are “Prospectors” who stake a social media claim but never do much with it; more than half are “Flirts” who approach social media sporadically. Only 10% are “Settlers” who stick around to finish what they started.
Filene Research Fellow and University of Arizona Professor Hope Jensen Schau used surveys and online content analysis of 157 credit unions, and qualitative interviews with leaders from many of them to describe and help to solve two pressing credit union challenges:
1. Integrating legacy marketing/member service relationships with social media.
2. Addressing the often missed credit union opportunity of data gathering and analysis.
The first challenge entails educating credit union decision makers on the role and purpose of social media and how it interconnects with credit unions’ overall strategic branding decisions.
The second challenge entails the development of appropriate metrics against which social media strategies can be evaluated. The research outlines how credit unions should become more adaptable Settlers, create a social media strategy, encourage and support an actual brand community. We also have a program helping credit unions do this.
While using Facebook or Twitter might have been buzzworthy in 2009, today’s members are not impressed with mere presence. Key takeaways from this report for credit unions include:
Prospectors and MacGyvers needed. Only 10% of credit unions act as Settlers that stake a social media claim and then consistently work that claim. Even fewer (7%) become MacGyvers, able to use a variety of tools to accomplish their social media goals.
Ongoing demographic challenge. Credit unions report that their social media efforts are aimed at young adults but that most of their interactions come from older existing members. Social media will not bring in prospects by itself; it requires effective targeting and a relevant message.
Leverage each platform’s strength. Facebook is used by credit unions and is seen as the most effective social media channel. Merging a richer, more static Facebook presence with more staccato-like updates will help keep your members grounded in your main page. Your Facebook page will become the nexus connecting your members to your other channels and, more importantly, to your own website.
Embrace and encourage member-generated content. Engagement leads to loyalty. In this study, members who created content were more tightly embedded in their credit union community.