About three years ago, I wrote another article for CUES called: Balance Key to Successful PR Campaigns. In it I explained how a public relations campaign needs three important components to really be successful. Well, fast forward to today, and I would actually add a fourth component: social media. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap Chat, Instagram and many others are giving credit unions another avenue to use for branding.
Despite this wellspring of opportunity in social media, it seems that some companies in the financial space have been dragging their feet when it comes to doing anything with social media. Management may think that social media is just for business to consumer efforts; however, that is not entirely true. The social media space is very real and takes its marketing very seriously. Credit unions can miss the opportunity to attract new members, solidify their brand with existing members and build confidence among their business partners when they don’t take advantage of social media.
It is true that not all social media is for every company. That does not mean it should all be ruled out. A common social media misconception is that you have to constantly be on it to have any kind of strong presence or effect. While that is partially correct, credit unions can still harness the power of several platforms to achieve results. Let’s look at four popular and “emerging” social media platforms that can help companies in the financial business enhance their brands.
This platform attracts more structured, business-related interactions. People use LinkedIn to research companies, research management, network and sometimes find a job. Most businesses also will use this platform for specific campaigns. Credit unions can use the spotlight feature on LinkedIn to showcase current promotions (such as a special back to school loan or holiday savings account) to encourage activity from members. You can “pin” items on your LinkedIn home page to garner interest in a particular product as well. And don’t forget to post blogs written by employees and share other information that might be of interest to members, including financial tips, local happenings and more. To make this process easy to manage, you can assign specific days for specific departments to post or curate the information. This rotation will show ongoing activity without taxing one person or group.
This is one of the newer social media platforms but already has 150 million users, according to Bloomberg Business and the company says it reaches 41 percent of ALL 18 to 34 year olds in the country every day, and they watch about 10 billion videos a day. Further studies show that more than half the new users of the platform are over 25 years old. While they might be using it to keep up with their kids or post pictures with animated filters of dogs and the like, the bottom line is that they are using it. Providing a quick little ad or a sponsored product, such as the geofilter (much like the city or location you are in) or lenses (like the flower crown for your selfies) could go a long way in showing a credit union’s willingness to stay in touch with its members of all ages.
“The Gram” as some people call it, is another platform that focuses more on pictures and video than words. This is a great medium to show a brief view of someone talking about a new product or a picture of marketing material about a new service. Much like Snap Chat, using Instagram shows a desire and an understanding of the need to connect with users on multiple platforms. According to Pew Research Center, a growing number of people are using Instagram as a source for news. In fact, 58 percent of the users 18 to 29 years old use the platform for news, as well as 28 percent of the 30 to 49 age group, 12 percent of the 50 to 64 year old group and two percent of the 65 and older group. These numbers were from May 2016 and just three years ago the platform was not a consideration for news. Credit unions should definitely consider using the platform to engage members.
Instagram (and Snap Chat) are also great ways to show a lighter, more human side of your credit union. Share pictures or videos of employees doing community service, volunteering at a local event or even just bringing coffee or treats in to share with coworkers.
Although it has been around since 2006 and has had some disappointing revenues and internal issues, Twitter is still one of the top social media platforms with 310 million active users a month. At times, the platform may seem to e all about political mud-slinging and body-bragging images these days; however, according to SocialTimes, about 25 percent of the users are journalists, making it a solid means of getting some media attention for your credit union.
These social media platforms should be considered viable options in any effort to expand a credit union’s brand. Whatever platform you use, developing an editorial calendar will be important for success, by not overwhelming anyone and giving more employees the opportunity to participate. It will be interesting to reread this article in 2019 to see how far we have come. I guess I better learn quickly as my one and a half year old daughter is already well versed in turning on a phone and swiping, thanks to my teenage goddaughters!