Facebook has transformed the way we communicate, share information and do business in modern day culture from connecting with friends and family to networking with social and professional groups to advertising and promoting companies or businesses, and much more. And, as we learned in Part 1 of this article, credit unions, like other businesses and organizations, have taken to the Facebook craze and are redefining member communication with this social networking tool.
Credit Unions and Facebook: “People Helping People” in the Age of Social Networking
As Facebook becomes a mainstream method for financial co-ops to communicate and spread the credit union word, members are responding to credit union-generated Facebook pages and credit unions are devoting resources to dedicated Facebook efforts.
Altura Credit Union (Riverside, CA) has just under 3,000 fans and gets daily responses from their followers in good numbers. According to Carlos Loza, Marketing Analyst, regular giveaways, surveys and polls help to keep the credit union’s Facebook page alive and active.
Loza feels that Facebook has given Altura’s membership an additional tool with which to be informed and ask questions of their credit union. “They like that they can get an answer to their questions almost instantly, and it keeps our members up to date with all the current news from Altura,” he says.
Since they like being connected to their membership whenever possible, the Facebook page is checked and updated Monday through Friday, sometimes numerous times a day, and usually within minutes. “There are occasions when we get a post or comment over the weekend or after hours, and so may not get to it until the following business day -- member satisfaction is our primary concern and Facebook is just another tool we use to achieve that,” contends Loza.
With 1,354 "likes" to date, Consumers Credit Union (Waukegan, IL) is itching to grow these Facebook numbers and continues to enhance their presence through the social media platform by searching for new and innovative ways to increase visibility. According to Hal Coxon, VP Sales & Marketing, the credit union currently dedicates about 5 hours per week to their Facebook effort and believes there is a certain level of "expectation" from members that they'll be able to "find them" in this channel. “Social media has had several iterations and changes since online became interactive around 20 years ago -- with that in mind, the real challenge will be keeping up with the shifting tides as social media continues to grow and evolve,” notes Coxon.
Today, Freedom Credit Union (Warminster, PA) has 244 fans on their page, receiving an average of one or two likes or comments on a daily basis. While satisfied with this response because they believe it to be an organic response from people truly interested in what’s going on at Freedom, the credit union is always looking for ways to strengthen their Facebook presence.
“Engaging Freedom members via Facebook is constantly on our minds,” says Krista Barry, Marketing Coordinator, “from making sure that our Member emails contain social networking buttons, to planning newsletter articles or website items to promote the page, or asking Sweepstakes winners if it’s okay to post about their prize on Facebook.” In the future, Freedom hopes to continue expanding their reach to Members and potential Members using their Facebook page and exploring the opportunities that Facebook presents to the credit union and its members.
With 2,608 fans who typically respond by liking or commenting on posts, asking questions or by expressing how much they like the credit union, Genisys Credit Union (Auburn Hills, MI) has been extremely satisfied with the response to their Facebook effort. “It's also exciting to see the level of growth and engagement increase too -- it's really about making sure that our members know they have an additional outlet to use to communicate with us,” says Nicole Bowen, Marketing Representative.
The credit union typically posts 2-3 times per day and constantly monitors their Facebook page, responding to member posts as soon as possible. “For more extensive or personal inquiries, we move the communication outside of Facebook so we can work with the member one-on-one and keep their personal information private,” explains Bowen.
Bowen feels the information that members can easily access on their Facebook page saves them time and also helps their online members, who live far away, to stay on top of campaigns and product offerings.
Lancaster Red Rose Credit Union (Lancaster, PA) has 1,918 fans that enjoy the credit union’s updates and posts on various topics. Abby Kiebach, Chief Executive Officer, feels that Facebook is a great way to reach many people at once and if credit unions make their posts interesting enough, the fan base grows quickly by word of mouth. Kiebach uses a free service from Hoot Suite that allows the user to schedule updates all at once. “I select the topic of the day, break it down into 10 – 12 updates, and then program Hoot Suite to update every hour with a new paragraph -- Hoot Suite will update our Facebook, MySpace, Linked In and Twitter accounts all at once,” she explains.
Navy Federal Credit Union (Merrifield, VA) is proud to report that they have 33,000 organically grown (word of mouth) fans. Jennifer Sadler, Corporate Communications/Public Relations, says that members appreciate the fact that they listen and "talk" with them in social media channels, often thanking them for doing so. With 20 positions dedicated to their Facebook effort alone, the credit union monitors and engages on their page 24/7 and responds to members within 2-3 minutes of receiving posts. “We love hearing from our members and being part of their life experiences!” contends Sadler.
Unitus Community Credit Union (Portland, OR) currently has just over 1,700 ‘Likes’. The credit union is slowly seeing Facebook become an extension for member service and account related questions. “Our process is to follow up with these members as quickly as possible and then keep them in the loop via conversation posts -- many people are simply happy that we respond to them,” says Ryan Jones, Digital Marketing Specialist. “We also see a lot of members simply posting about how much they love their credit union and commenting on various posts, photos, events, etc.”
In his position, Jones is responsible for maintaining Unitus’ social and online presence, typically posting to Facebook 2-3+ times a days that correlates to an average of 1-2 hours a day dedicated to Facebook. “We have a response procedure built into our social media plan that involves members of our Marketing and Members Services teams -- we constantly monitor our Facebook page throughout the workday and on weekends…after all social media doesn’t end at 5 p.m. on a Friday,” explains Jones. The credit union always has a set of eyes looking at their Facebook page and if a conversation needs to happen they typically like to respond within 1-2 hours or sooner.
See how your credit union is reaching out to you and other members via Facebook by scoping them out on facebook.com and becoming a fan. Not a credit union member? Then find one and join today.By Cyndi Cohen