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Social Media Chatter Provides Clues To Why Consumers Join Credit Unions

Social Media Chatter Provides Clues To Why Consumers Join Credit Unions By Gina Ragusa
Published June 14, 2013
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After tracking over 230,000 social media conversations last year, social media analytic group, Crimson Hexagon found that approximately 17% of conversations centered on how credit unions provided better service than other financial institutions.

Crimson Hexagon global market development manager Jehan Hamedi told credit union executives during the Credit Union Direct Lending Conference that paying attention to social media can help take the public’s pulse. “If used in the right way, social media can be the largest source of unsolicited consumer opinions,” he said.

The group also noted that at least 15% of the social media conversations tracked consumers discussing how credit unions were a positive influence on credit building and boosting credit scores. Other findings through online discussions include:

  • 14% said credit unions had more competitive interest rates.
  • 13% of tracked consumers said they switched over to a credit union because of bank fees.
  • 9% said they liked being part of a credit union because it made them feel more like being part of a community.
  • Approximately 12% wanted to part ways with one of the big banks due to checking account fees and issues with customer service.

Hamedi added that 77% of tracked consumers had a positive response following their big bank’s release of mobile banking, however the “love” dropped shortly to only a 60% positive reaction. The release, “only built them short-term goodwill,” he commented.

Because more consumers are seeking a credit union, Hamedi suggested that credit unions should tap into the power of social media to reach out to prospective members. Analyzing social media conversations can provide cues and ideas on how to best convey the message.

Remember Bank Transfer Day?

Piggybacking on the Occupy frustration and mounting consumer anxiety about being taken financially assaulted by one of the big bail out banks, social media-driven Bank Transfer Day prompted 600,000 plus consumers to pull the plug on their big bank account and join a credit union.

On October 9, 2011 independent business owner Kristen Christian created a Facebook page asking friends to transfer their accounts from a big bank to a credit union on November 5. Her friend network expanded beyond her initial reach, going viral and touching the masses who felt similarly about the big banking world.

As a result, mega banks like Bank of America took a hit to their bottom line, further demonstrating the power of social media. "It was a meaningful movement of people from big banks into small community banks and credit unions, but it wasn't a huge number by any stretch," said Jim Van Dyke, founder of Javelin, to Reuters. He added, "It was quite a feat. I don't think we'll see it repeated any time soon."

However, Bill Cheney, CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) wrote in the Huffington Post last November that Bank Transfer Day has continued to thrive beyond those initial months. “When you look at the numbers, it's hard to conclude otherwise. The most recent figures on the number of people belonging to credit unions are those for mid-year 2012. Looking at the one-year ending June 30, 2012 -- a period that encompasses the months leading up to and after Bank Transfer Day--we've seen the biggest increase in new credit union members in more than a decade -- a net of nearly 2.2 million new members.”

Cheney notes that sites like www.aSmarterChoice.org has exploded, experiencing a traffic increase from 2,000 visits a week to 70,000 immediately before Bank Transfer Day. He says that a year later the site still receives higher numbers ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 visits a week.

He adds, “We're finding these new members talk about their experiences via word of mouth and through their social media circles, perpetuating this long stretch of new-member growth.”

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