After you read through your Facebook newsfeed today, did you remember any specific messages from businesses that you follow? If so, take careful note of how those messages were crafted and what they said. It will be valuable information after you read this. 

If you don’t remember any specifics, welcome to the challenge encountered by nearly every company and non-person entity using social media. How do you engage people in conversations on Facebook and Twitter? For credit unions, the challenge often is more acute because financial institutions are seen as service providers and not purveyors of any products that particularly excite people. 

But fear not. There are tactics you can employ to maximize your social media presence and actions you should avoid when you’re representing your credit union in the social media sphere. Of course, you’ll need to consult your legal and compliance teams to determine what you can and cannot do in the social media realm. 

The Give And Take of Social Media 

Social media demands two-way communication. That’s one of the most important points to remember for your social media strategy. You must acknowledge or respond in a timely manner to messages and comments posted to your credit union’s social media pages, even if the comments you receive aren’t particularly positive. You wouldn’t ignore someone if they came into your branch office, so don’t ignore them online. To respond effectively, make sure a point person is assigned to monitor social media channels. This could be an in-house resource or an interactive agency that thoroughly understands social media. 

Did someone say social media strategy? Make sure you have one before you write one word for social media, and make sure it is fully integrated with your overall marketing plan. Create a plan, starting with a content calendar so you can regularly schedule posts. The content calendar will keep you focused on creating fresh content all the time, a necessity to keeping followers engaged and remaining relevant to them. But don’t post every day or followers will tune you out. Four posts a week of good content is plenty. 

Also, mix up your content so you don’t lose your audience with too much shop talk. A good rule of thumb is 80% non-brand content and 20% brand content. The point here is to avoid excessive self-promotion that becomes white noise to your followers. But there is ample room to discuss the cooperative nature of credit unions and to use social media to help explain the differences in approach and member services between credit unions and banks, for example. 

Social media should be part of your active marketing plan, not a separate entity and certainly not an afterthought. While part of your motivation to enter social media may be because “everybody’s doing it,” you are doomed to failure if you launch with no strategy.  

How to Say What You Mean 

Now that you know what you’re going to say, let’s talk about how you’ll say it. Remember that less is more. Keep your posts concise and informative and always look for images and links that will attract attention to your posts and enhance their value. 

Have some fun with your posts. Facebook is informal by nature. Be funny, be relatable, be positive and helpful, all while maintaining the integrity of your credit union’s brand. And don’t forget to show the human side of your credit union by posting employee news and creating community event photo albums on a regular basis. Facebook succeeds because it connects people, so showcase the people who help your credit union thrive.  

Generate More Interaction With Followers 

As you become more active in social media, you may notice that your followers aren’t participating as much as you’d like. There are a few ways to look at this. 

Maybe you want to come up with creative giveaways, promotions or discounts that are valuable to your audience. People love free things that are easy to get. Bear in mind that Facebook has specific rules about how to conduct contests and offer promotions. 

Or, consider using the Facebook Promoted Posts feature, which enables you to pay a small fee per post to land at the top of your followers’ feed. This could be a smart choice for promoting certain content that might otherwise get lost in the newsfeed shuffle. 

It’s also possible that you don’t know your audience as well as you should. Facebook’s analytics reveal a lot about your followers, such as gender and geographic location. Tailor your content to them so that it’s local and appropriate. Through analytics, you also can determine the time of day and day of the week when you receive the most interaction, so you can plan the timing of future posts accordingly. 

On the flip side of these points, your posts are more about giving than receiving. Just because your audience didn’t “like” or comment on a post, doesn’t mean it didn’t resonate with them and help contribute to their brand impression. 

Michelle Kay Brown is director of marketing at ZAG Interactive
Contact 860-633-4818 or mbrown@zaginteractive.com