Simplifying Social Media

by Bevin Wallace

How to lighten your social media workload with a content strategy

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

Does your head spin when you consider the number of social media channels your credit union could be using? Is your credit union not leveraging social media, because it would just take too much time? While there are still some doubts among credit unions in regard to the tangible ROI of social media, the fact remains that more than half of the U.S. population is active on Facebook and nearly 40 million of us are active Twitter users. Chances are your members are already talking about you, and you are losing out by not being part of the conversation.

Managing social media efforts will no doubt take time, but taking an integrated, strategic approach to the process can make it much simpler. While filling Facebook statuses, Tweets and empty blog pages sounds intimidating, following the tips below will make managing those platforms easier than you think. The key is re-purposing content and finding ways to leverage it across all the channels.

Where to Start

Develop your timing: When you begin laying out your simplified social media plan, it is important to decide the frequency with which you will post on each channel. Below are the minimum levels of activity your credit union should aim for.

Map it out: An important step in starting or even continuing social media on the right foot is creating a document that charts out what you will post on your channels and when. We recommend an Excel spreadsheet, Google Doc, etc. that allows you to compile themes across channels, starting on a monthly basis and narrowing down to daily. (Download a sample marketing calendar in Excel format.)

Important items to also include in this document are:

  • internal events, such as new branch openings;
  • external events, such as attendance at a community fair or sporting event;
  • planned marketing campaigns; and
  • new product/service launches.

Incorporating milestones and events offers you the opportunity to “theme” each month. Not only does this make mapping your content easier, but it ensures your social media efforts are supporting your credit union’s other promotional plans. Every piece of information you distribute does not have to coordinate with the theme, but it does help provide a guideline for content.

For instance, a month that includes several conferences lends itself to: 1) a blog post about how your credit union gets the most out of industry events, 2) Facebook posts of photos and updates from the events, and 3) re-tweets of material from show attendees.

The Next Steps

Creating content: The key to building social media content on a “time budget” is to avoid reinventing the wheel. Your credit union probably has a wealth of material that could be re-purposed for social media channels. Once you have your monthly themes mapped out, review this existing collateral to see what can be tweaked to create blog posts, Tweets and status updates. Keep in mind that blog posts vary widely in length, but to maintain your goal of simplicity stick to a 300-500 word article.

Likely targets for re-purposing:

  • recent press releases,
  • newsletter articles,
  • marketing campaigns,
  • positive member feedback, and
  • presentations at events.

The goal here is to get more mileage from these tools. Specific uses can include:

  • turning a press release about the credit union’s 2012 growth into a blog from the CEO telling members how well their institution is doing;
  • modifying a conference presentation about the credit union’s mobile banking program into a blog post to show members how their institution is ahead of the technology curve;
  • using a nice note from a happy member as a springboard to describe what the credit union does on a daily basis to provide superb member service;
  • housing press releases on your credit union website, then Tweeting a link, posting to Facebook and updating your LinkedIn profile; and
  • similarly sharing videos of presentations, a picture of the member’s positive note, or a link to the credit union’s appearance in a local newspaper story.

Integrating the channels: No man is an island, and the same applies to your social media channels. By syncing topics across all channels, you not only reduce the amount of content that must be developed, but this tactic presents an organized, strategic image. Keep in mind, however, that the platforms should not mirror each other. Integrating does not mean having your Facebook page set up to automatically share your Twitter posts. This defeats the purpose of members following all your channels.

A best practice for integrating channels is to use posts to encourage followers on one site to visit you on the others. The possibilities here are nearly endless:

  • Promote new blog articles through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to increase readership.
  • Tweet about an in-branch event and refer followers to photos from the day on Facebook.
  • Create a giveaway on Twitter and use Facebook to spread the word.

Finish Line

Having a social media presence is becoming more and more important in the financial industry. For many credit unions, a full-fledged social media program is not possible due to a lack of resources. The tips above are meant to help create a short and sweet version so all credit unions can be a part of the conversation with their members.

Bevin Wallace is a senior account agent for William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent financial services and technology public relations firm. Follow William Mills Agency on Twitter and check out the agency’s FinTech Marketing blog.