We often get asked a lot of questions about social media. What is it? How can I use it? Is there a real benefit to my credit union? Our thought is that any tool you can use to talk to your members is something worth using. That’s why we have things like web sites, mailing lists, email lists, etc. It’s about time we added social media to the credit union communication bag of tricks. We will henceforth be posting periodically on all things social media-related. Tips, tricks, useful tools, best practices, etc. First, however, I’d like to introduce you to our “Social Media Manifesto.” In it, we will discuss why social media is a natural fit for credit unions and why you need to get off the sidelines and into the game when it comes to engaging your members.
What is Social Media?
If you’re still asking yourself this question, you may need to sit down and take a deep breath because there’s a lot of reading you’ll need to be doing. Perhaps start here. What you should get out of this is that social media is a tool or medium used to build and engage communities.
Why Do Businesses Care About Social Media?
Communities and brands overlap. Think of all the different communities that are associated with brands. Jeep clubs, Corvette clubs, dining clubs, country club memberships, gym memberships, Netflix users, Xbox Live. There is a community built around just about everything. Obviously, some things are more conducive to community-building than others: people who love Cheerios, for example, are a much more loosely defined community than, say, Detroit Lions season ticket holders. Social media merely leverages the power of technology to start a conversation, and businesses and brands benefit from talking to their customer communities.
Credit Unions and Social Media
Luckily, credit unions are already intrinsically a community-based entity. Whether we operate in the SEG world or as a community charter or something else entirely, we’ve got a clearly defined group of people we serve – our membership. The very nature of credit unions as financial cooperatives makes them inseparable from notions of community. Our members aren’t simply customers; they are owners who have a voice at the table and a stake in our institutions. Credit unions have a long history of engaging with their members through personal interaction, annual meetings, newsletters, and community involvement. Social media is simply another avenue to communicate with and build these membership communities.
Credit unions don’t need to radically change the game to utilize social media – simply do the things we’ve been doing (or should have been doing) for years! Talk about our local communities, promote volunteerism, provide valuable and timely information to members. Facebook is probably the most important social media tool we should be using. It is an opt-in community that not only allows us to broadcast our message and engage our members, but also post things like photos and videos. In the not-too-distant future, Facebook could potentially replace newsletters entirely. Why send out a monthly or quarterly mailer when all the relevant information can be found on the credit union Facebook page or web site?
Today, credit unions can use social media to engage their membership like never before. Our communities are already clearly defined. Our mission has not fundamentally changed since financial cooperatives were first conceived. The tools at our disposal, however, have radically changed the level of dialogue we can have with our communities. We would be remiss if we did not continue the dialogue we have with our members as these communication channels evolve.
How Do I Get Started?
We can help! We can assist you with setting up Facebook, timeline covers, assigning administrators, developing your page and integrating with your web site. You probably already have employees who are very familiar with the Facebook interface (many of whom might even use it at work already!). We can’t run the show for you entirely – we’d be doing you and your members a disservice. Social media is a bridge that connects you directly to your members; why put a third party in the middle of that relationship? Facebook is not necessarily a “if you build it, they will come” sort of service. It will require some level of promotion – via your web site, lobby, word of mouth, statement inserts/onserts, etc. Have a “Grand Opening” for your Facebook page and utilize a full-court press of marketing collateral to launch this new and exciting dialogue with your members. If you’re ready to take the plunge, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email and ask how we can help make your journey into social media a successful one.