Credit Unions Joining the Facebook Revolution: Part 1
By Cyndi Cohen Credit Unions Online
Businesses of all sorts have joined the Facebook revolution and credit unions are no exception. With their need and desire to attract new members, especially young ones, it only makes sense that credit unions around the country have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and taken advantage of all it has to offer as a universal means of member (and prospective member) communication.
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Credit unions have found Facebook to be a low-cost method for doing any or all of the following: Establishing their brand; attracting members; promoting products and services; promoting special incentives, deals, and events; posting pictures; educating members by posting links to financial literacy resources; and promoting the overall credit union movement.
Altura Credit Union (Riverside, CA) utilizes Facebook as a social media channel to communicate and interact with current and potential Members. According to Carlos Loza, Marketing Analyst, the credit union launched its Facebook page about four years ago, but how they use it has evolved. “We really ramped up its use as a serious communication tool in February 2011 with a more focused plan.”
Social media was really beginning to take off in 2008, and Altura saw Facebook as a new way to interact with its Members as well as potential members, particularly those in younger generations. “In this technological era, more and more people depend on the Internet to gather their information, and Facebook is part of that,” says Loza. Loza feels that there’s also more of an intimacy with Facebook than just interacting with Altura’s website or receiving Altura-generated emails. “The tone is more conversational and the format is obviously more interactive.”
Altura uses Facebook to interact with its followers on a regular basis, mixing messages about upcoming events, contests and product promotions with fun items such as asking how followers are planning to spend a holiday weekend, or cheering on a local team. They also run contests specifically for Facebook followers, post photos of contest winners and branch events, and tell members about certain products and promotions.
Consumers Credit Union (Waukegan, IL) started using Facebook in 2008 to gain a Social Media presence while aligning themselves with the progression of modern communication and interaction, and to provide credit union members and followers a more "personal" platform to connect with their credit union.
Hal Coxon, VP Sales & Marketing, says that in addition to periodic interactive promotions that are open to members and non-members, Consumers Credit Union uses Facebook as a communication tool, with regular content updates on community outreach, community events (even when they may not be a participant), as well as activities and special events at the credit union. “One of the regular ‘features’ of our Facebook page is brief profiles of staff beginning with managers and ultimately drilling down to our front-line team -- the purpose was to ‘personalize’ or ‘put a face on’ the credit union,” explains Coxon. They also provide links to more mainstream items, such as press releases, security alerts, and more.
Freedom Credit Union (Warminster, PA) posted their first Facebook message on December 30, 2009. According to Krista Barry, Marketing Coordinator. The credit union began seeing the popularity of Facebook rise at an extraordinary rate, especially among young people, and knew they had to look into the possibilities of joining the site. “At the same time, we also were taking a look at further promoting Freedom to young people -- joining Facebook became a natural fit to reach a younger audience and one of our first Facebook posts was actually regarding a youth referral incentive promotion.”
The purpose of Freedom’s Facebook updates has evolved over the last two and a half years and continues to do so based on the feedback they receive from their “fans.” At first, the credit union was doing a weekly update based on a product or promotion that they wanted to build awareness for their fans.
However, leading up to Bank Transfer Day in November 2011, they started to post articles on how to switch financial institutions, the benefits of Credit Union membership and information about their $5/Month Debit Card campaign. “During this time, we received a great deal of positive activity from the fans of our page, including an upsurge in likes, comments and shares,” explains Barry. Since then, they have slowly but steadily broadened their approach to Facebook by posting pictures of events, sharing holiday closings, and Sweepstakes winners. “In the future, we hope to continue using Facebook as a more comprehensive channel to communicate with our Members and potential Members,” she contends.
At Genisys Credit Union (Auburn Hills, MI) they began using Facebook in July 2009 to provide their members with another channel to interact and connect with them. Nicole Bowen, Marketing Representative, says that members can now ask questions, provide feedback and participate in contests even if they do not live near a branch.
“We try to provide members and the community with a balance of helpful information including product specials, financial tips, discounts, press releases, photos, contests and community event opportunities so that they can stay up to date with the credit union and their finances,” explains Bowen.
Facebook has been a great tool for Genisys to use to help enhance their marketing efforts. “By overlapping our Facebook contests with our other marketing channels, we've been able to run very successful and consistent campaigns for the past 3 years -- alternating the types of contests we run and information we provide allows us to appeal to all of our fans,” says Bowen.
Abby Kiebach, Chief Executive Officer of Lancaster Red Rose Credit Union (Lancaster, PA) says that her credit union started utilizing Facebook as a communication tool because she loves the outreach opportunities it provides. “LRRCU is committed to financial awareness to all age groups and Facebook provides an outlet for very low-cost advertising,” she says.
The credit union shares information about monthly loan and savings specials, and educational events as well as awareness articles broken down into many updates. “CUNA, NCUA, and the PA Department of Banking have terrific resources to educate consumers on better banking,” contends Kiebach.
Navy Federal Credit Union (Merrifield, VA) launched their corporate Facebook page during the first quarter of 2011 as a way to complement their already existing Twitter accounts, one for Navy Federal News and Information and the other for Member Help. According to Jennifer Sadler, Corporate Communications/Public Relations, the purpose of the Facebook page was to have more conversations with their members and allow them to see the human side of their brand. “We wanted to get a sense of what was on their mind and how we were doing as their credit union in meeting their financial needs,” she explains.
The credit union is focused on generating good conversations with members and getting their opinions about certain topics. “We also like to share the wide variety of events that our world-wide branch offices participate in and how we are helping our military and their families with their everyday personal finance decisions,” says Sadler.
Unitus Community Credit Union (Portland, OR) launched their Facebook page in late-2010 as one of their social media channels. Ryan Jones, Digital Marketing Specialist, feels that social media is a great way to communicate and connect with members, and that there are a lot of ways to go about it. “In our specific setting we wanted to promote and emphasize Unitus’ efforts that we make in the communities we serve and help educate our members and non-members alike on various financial topics,” he explains.
Unitus CU uses a variety of communications on Facebook, which include but aren’t limited to member inquiries, timely articles in the news that directly affect credit unions or the banking world in general, and promotions. Many Unitus members will turn to Facebook to get the answers they need. These may come in the form of a question about their account, a service issue they’re experiencing, or a general question about an upcoming event. “We have a system in place where members of the Marketing and the Member Services staff work together to resolve any member questions as quickly as possible,” says Jones. In terms of promotions on Facebook, the credit union only mentions those products that directly benefit the member. For example, they currently have a balance transfer promo on the page in an effort to help members reduce their high-rate credit card debt.
Unitus also likes to use Facebook to post info about a variety of financial education seminars they host, photos documenting community events which members seem to enjoy, and announcements including new products, events, videos, service notifications, and more. “Recently we launched an internet radio program called ‘Navigating Your Money’ and made the announcement on Facebook -- we will post individual episode announcements as they come out and are currently working on a tab and app where visitors will be able to download each episode of the show right through Facebook,” explains Jones.
An additional unique item that Unitus posts about on Facebook is jobs. “One of the things I don’t see a lot of credit unions doing, but might want to think about, is posting current job openings -- not only is this a great way to help promote job growth and fill those positions, but it’s also a good way for potential job candidates to get a feel for what the credit union is all about,” says Jones.
To find out whether your credit union has joined the Facebook revolution, visit facebook.com and type the credit union’s name in the search engine there. Chances are they have! Not a credit union member? Find one and join today.