Capitalizing on Facebook’s New Timeline

By Stephen Sprayberry

Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

As always, trends come and go, and as each of these articles is published, the world is being flooded with new information and trends that can be applied to the PR techniques credit unions utilize every day.

In a recent column, we discussed the need for relevant content in making the most of your social media assets. We’ll use this column to focus in on Facebook specifically and look beyond your content to help you get the most out of this communications channel.

By this point, its safe to say that the importance of credit unions leveraging Facebook (and other social media outlets) as a tool to remain up-to-date and fresh in the eyes of members has been driven home over and over again, but as the social media industry continues barreling down the tracks, new features and capabilities have emerged to distinguish certain outlets as more valuable to the success of a credit union’s PR efforts in comparison to others.

Recently, Facebook redesigned its format and customization techniques in a way that can revolutionize the presence of credit unions on the social media channel and provide further opportunities to connect with new and existing members via Facebook’s Timeline. While the new look and feel of Facebook is a rather drastic change in comparison to the original layout, the newly added features of Timeline are well worth the time and effort needed to effectively make use of them on your credit union’s profile.

Here are a few need-to-know tips and tricks you can quickly and easily put into action to increase your Facebook presence with the new Timeline platform.

Visually Express Yourself
The overarching theme of the new Facebook Timeline is all about making your profile visually pleasing to those who visit it. At this point, you might be thinking, “What in the world do I have to offer that would be visually pleasing to people visiting my profile?” The answer: plenty.

Timeline’s new format provides credit unions the opportunity for strategic self expression to not only re-emphasize the service offerings and underlying company beliefs they abide by, but also the ability to do so in a way that will create a lasting emotional bond with members. A few suggestions for credit unions to consider are:

  • Make use of the new cover photo feature to display an image that encompasses the full spectrum of beliefs and principles of the credit union in relation to your products and services, but especially your dedication to members.
  • Post videos from credit union employees that offer tips or suggestions for members such as “How to Save for Your First Home” or “Ways to Budget Your Money During the Holiday Season.”
  • Upload photos that show the credit union’s involvement with members in the branch or photos of outside activities employees (and members) are involved with in the community.

One thing for credit unions to keep in mind when posting photos to their Facebook page is avoid anything related to sales promotions or marketing campaigns in your photos. Not only might this come across as an annoyance to customers, but also Facebook’s Terms of Use strictly forbid utilizing this feature of Timeline as advertisement.

Highlight (or Pin) What You’re Proud Of
As a continuation of Timeline’s focus on being visually appealing to users, Facebook has introduced a new feature, which allows users to choose specific posts to be showcased at the top of their page for up to one week.

The new “Pin to Top” function is a perfect way for credit unions to ensure the items they’re most proud of are prominently displayed where everyone will see them. Not only does this function drastically increase the visibility of specific posts, but it also broadens the potential for members visiting the page to interact and provide their own thoughts on the post.

For instance, a wall post from a member expressing their personal delight over a new employee or service offering would be a perfect item to “Pin to Top” and see what kind of buzz generates from other members voicing their opinions on the given topic.

Another technique Timeline offers is the “Highlight” feature, which extends a post across both columns of the page to visually show its importance. Credit unions should employ this feature to detail company milestones, such as branch openings, new products and services, historical company dates, etc.

The addition of these significant company milestones somewhat humanizes the credit union and can generate major interaction from members as they recant their memories and thoughts in relation to each highlighted event.

Avoid Clutter and Strike Up a Conversation
While the visual appeal of Timeline lends a significant amount of potential for credit unions to provide interesting content for members, the new two column layout for profile pages can quickly become cluttered and disorganized if not carefully monitored.

As members begin posting their own thoughts and suggestions on the credit union’s wall, back and forth conversations between the designated Facebook manager and the member can further clutter the page with an extensive thread of back and forth conversation. But, there is a new feature previously unavailable to Facebook’s business profiles that can be employed to help credit unions avoid this clutter.

Through Timeline, credit unions can now send and receive private messages between members and the Facebook manager representing the credit union as a whole. Taking the conversation from the wall to a private outlet prevents any added content from clogging up the timeline and allows for deeper conversation and interaction with customers. Utilizing this technique can also be extremely helpful in allowing the credit union to directly address pressing member inquiries that may be best handled in a private, one-on-one environment.

The Bottom Line
While Facebook’s new Timeline format has received some backlash from users for being too confusing and too much of a change from the previous design, the new techniques and features it provides are a major plus, especially for businesses. For credit unions (and all businesses in general), the key to making best use of the Timeline is to consistently keep up with the content being posted online on your behalf and from your members. Highlight and pin items you want members to see and monitor inquiries from members that need to be addressed privately. Do this and your Facebook will be sleek, organized and the best form of free advertisement you could ask for.

Stephen Sprayberry is an account coordinator at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent financial services and technology public relations firm. I invite you to follow William Mills Agency on Twitter as well as check out our FinTech Marketing blog.