by Elizabeth Arnold
Two years ago, I refused to use Venmo.
Today, I don’t go a week without it. Most weeks actually involve five to six Venmo transactions.
My personal change in thinking reflects what many credit union and bank marketers will find when marketing to millennials and their tech-native successors, Generation Z: convenience is everything.
A recent FIS study found that 72 percent of all banking interactions today are digital, with millennials carrying the majority of that lead. Global Web Index says 68 percent of millennials prefer their mobile phone as their most important piece of technology, with nearly all online millennials owning a smartphone. Millennials want constant on-the-go access.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t fit most millennial stereotypes. I still keep my budget on an Excel spreadsheet and would prefer a personal life without social media. So, when Venmo came on the scene a few years ago, I didn’t want anything to do with it.
What flipped the switch?
Quite frankly, everyone else was using it.
Zelle found that 75 percent of millennials are using P2P—most of which adopted the service initially due to a family or friend recommendation. Of those, 49 percent use P2P at least once a week. Credit Union Times reports that P2P payments are increasing 250 percent.
As a consumer, here are three things Venmo offers that make the app almost essential to the millennial life today, and what your credit union or bank marketing strategy can learn from it.
Why pay friends with cash when you can just tap a button? And, more importantly, why wait for someone else to pay you back when they too can just tap a button? Venmo, similar to other P2P platforms, gives the user freedom to enjoy life in the moment.
Takeaway: Use journey mapping to put your member or customer in the driver’s seat. What do they need? It’s usually not a checking account. That might be the solution to their need, but what they’re really looking for is the freedom to make purchases hassle-free so they can focus on what they value most. Emphasize that in your marketing and social media materials.
Again, P2P apps like Venmo have the unique ability to make payment fun. For example, I take pride in how clever I can make a Venmo caption when paying a friend for taco night. Others have used Venmo to have entire conversations…in emojis. The app has creatively taken a mundane and sometimes awkward interaction (giving and asking for money) and made it fun.
Takeaway: Make your credit union or bank’s mobile app and website fun to use. Offer a joke every time a member or customer logs into their online banking, give points for every action taken on a mobile app, or let users interact with each other. The more fun you can make it, the more millennials and Gen Z will use it.
It’s one thing if everyone is wearing Levis and you’re the only one still in Lees. It’s a whole other matter if everyone is using P2P and you’re still writing checks. Venmo makes socialization easy, and socialization makes Venmo necessary. It’s like the telephone in the 20th century. The more people who got telephones, the more you needed one to communicate. It’s the same with Venmo. The more people have it, the more necessary it becomes.
Takeaway: Study the behaviors of the millennials you’re trying to reach. Use an outside team to conduct demographic research if necessary. What are they doing that you can be part of? Go where they are, and don’t just think physical locations. Invest your social media dollars on the platforms they spend their time (hint: it’s not Facebook).
Your credit union or bank doesn’t have to compete with Venmo. In fact, I’d argue that you can’t. However, those of us in the financial marketing world can learn from their millennial marketing strategy, grow our brands and better position our financial institutions for years of stable growth.
(Republished with permission from On the Mark Strategies.)
by Mark Arnold | Sep 12, 2018
An interesting TV commercial for Woolite detergent caught my eye a few days ago. Yes, laundry detergent caught my eye. What stuck out most about the ad was its concluding line … “Woolite cares as much as it cleans.”
For most consumers, it doesn’t get much more humdrum than laundry detergent. We typically toss the same brand in the shopping basket as we have for years because … well, because we have for years.
Not much thought typically goes into such a seemingly mundane purchase. Unless, of course, such a banal product focuses its message on something that actually matters to consumers (caring about family, the environment, etc.) as much as it does on its cleaning properties.
According to BizReport, 74 percent of consumers want to feel good about the retailers and brands they use. Branding is becoming increasingly emotion-driven.
And let’s be honest. Your credit union or bank’s products and services are largely the same as anyone else’s. As cool as you think they are, they’re really just boring tools to most consumers.
Checking accounts? Zzzzzz. Online banking? Yaaaaaawn. Used car loans? Snooze city. Consumers expect these tools to work, to perform a specific function (much like laundry soap) and typically only pause to notice any difference when they don’t work (like if your detergent suddenly didn’t get out grass stains like it has for years).
The lesson from Woolite here is to lead with benefits, including emotional benefits, rather than with the tedious details of your products and services. Both your advertising ideas and your staff’s conversational approach to members should follow this benefits-first mentality.
Consumers need to know your financial institution cares about them and can relate to the struggles and triumphs of their daily lives. As Teddy Roosevelt said (and John Maxwell famously spread): “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
They also want to know you’re plugged-into the community and active in things that matter to them. In fact, a recent consumer survey from Accenture shows consumers are looking to businesses more than ever to define a social standard that serves their need for a deeper sense of meaning.
For too many years, credit unions and banks have led with product and service features when consumers care more about benefits.
Donald Miller explains in his book, “Story Brand” that consumers don’t care about our feature-focused marketing material because, “that information isn’t helping them eat, drink, find a mate, fall in love, build a tribe or experience a deeper sense of meaning.”
How can your checking account make their lives easier? How can your online banking simplify their financial routine? How can your car loans help them realize the dream of a souped-up dream car, or simply reliable daily family transportation?
This is the sweet spot for your brand, not the 27 bullet points from your brochure that detail the booooooring nuts and bolts of your products and services. (You’d be surprised how often see this issue when we conduct credit union and bank marketing audits.)
From a consumer perspective, it’s very much a “what have you done for me lately?” approach when it comes to relating to what you offer as a financial institution. Or, as Woolite aptly put it, does your brand care as much as it cleans?
Brought to you by: TheKnowledgeAcademy
We can’t all be financial wizards, that is unfortunately and undoubtedly true. But as we navigate through different life stages, the urgency to acknowledge and grasp what numerous financial terms mean becomes ever apparent when making tough financial decisions.
Considering words and phrases in areas such as banking, investment, mortgages and savings are more than likely to feature a lot in an individual’s management of their personal finances – the hope would be for them to have a firm education of commonly used financial jargon. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as shockingly only 16% of Americans have a high level of financial literacy according to research by financial services organisation ‘TIAA: Investing, Advice, Retirement and Banking’.
Interested in the financial competency of everyday Americans, training and qualifications provider TheKnowledgeAcademy.com analysed findings from YouGov, who surveyed 1,135 American adults to see how confident they are with the definitions of a range of financial words and phrases.
The Knowledge Academy found that ‘savings account’ is the financial term that most Americans are confident about at 88%. Thereafter, 76% claim to be assured by what a ‘credit union’ is. In third position, 72% of Americans feel confident enough to know what ‘net worth’ represents.
Interestingly, the main two aspects needed to work out someone’s ‘net worth’ – ‘assets’ (e.g. homes, cars, jewellery etc) minus ‘liabilities’ (e.g. credit card debt, cars loans, mortgages etc) – 70% of US citizens were equally confident about what is entailed within each of their true definitions.
Moreover, despite the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis causing a severe global economic downturn for several years, just 67% of Americans are surprisingly sure what a ‘recession’ really is in terms of an important stage in the economic lifecycle.
On the other end of the scale, more than half of Americans (52%) are unconfident about what ‘Bitcoin’ really is. Perhaps unexpected, given ‘Bitcoins’ prominent position in the cryptocurrency market and its value noticeably rocketing to sky-high levels at the end of last year (2017). Closely by, 49% are unsure about the proper connotation of an ‘index fund’. Further on, 44% of American public lack certainty about what an ‘asset allocation’ is – a strategy which aims to diversify an asset portfolio based on an investor’s investment objectives and risk appetite.
“Every industry is riddled with jargon, none more so then in the tricky world of finance. It can therefore feel like a confusing mind field when dealing with financial terminology," says Joseph Scott, a spokesperson from the TheKnowledgeAcademy.com. "Regardless of the difficultly, various financial terms have a considerable presence and impact in the minor as well as major saving and spending decisions of Americans. Consequently, a lack of knowledge on financial terms will mean Americans not having the awareness and competencies to make the best possible decisions when handling a range of situations relating to savings, investments and property management. For many, acquiring better knowledge on financial terminology will be essential for them to achieve a higher standard and quality of living”.
by Mark Arnold
On the Mark Strategies
Cue the Mission Impossible theme song. One of the blockbuster movies this summer is Mission Impossible: Fallout. If you haven’t seen it yet, get to a theatre near you for an absolute blast of a thrill ride movie.
But enough of the movie review. What does Mission Impossible have to do with a credit union or bank? Actually, quite a lot, especially when it comes to your marketing.
Whether in the classic TV show version or the movie franchise reboot, every Mission Impossible doesn’t just start with a catchy tune. It begins with the classic line, “Your mission….should you choose to accept it….” I get goose bumps every time I hear that line!
For the sake of this post I want to modify that line just a bit to say, “your MARKETING mission….should you choose to accept it….”
Here are three vital marketing missions to undertake at your financial institution:
Just like Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt and his team assume a great deal of risk with each mission, taking on the above assignments in your marketing takes risk as well. But in the end the hardest missions yield the greatest results.
Jen Shefner, Strategic Business Analyst
If you’re considering or are about to enter a digital transformation, its no news to you there are many pieces to the puzzle to consider. In this article, we’ll review how your credit union can come to a common understanding of what a digital transformation is, why now is the time to act, and the 6 digital transformation trends CU Engage is seeing across clients and projects.
The Digital Conundrum
The word “digital” can mean so many different things these days. When asked, financial leaders define “digital” in a variety of ways.
Digital is not:
On the flip side:
Your online/mobile banking platform and vendor can become a launching pad or frustrating barrier for how you conduct a digital business. It’s truly, just one piece of the overall puzzle, but it is an important one. It’s the most common touch point you have with your member. But that’s not all. It’s a member-facing portal that integrates with many of your other systems – including cards, mortgages, account opening, loan origination, etc. The flexibility, integrations and user experience created by your digital banking platform affect the member experiences your users have with those services as well.
Before selecting a new digital banking vendor, we recommend that credit unions set a corporate digital vision and be ready to answer tough questions about your commitment to achieving that vision. Without doing so, the voice of the current culture can limit your transformation.
Why NOW is a strategic time to act
According to the Digital Banking Report, when financial leaders were asked about their top three priorities for 2018, 72% selected: “redesign or enhance the digital experience for consumers.” The next priority at 51% was the “use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and cognitive computing.”
It’s probably not a surprise to you that these were the top priorities reported last year as well. Financial institutions have spent the last few years talking about digital transformation – painting a picture of where we need to go to meet consumer expectations. We want to:
Mobile banking usage is at a volume where leaders must act. Raddon predicts that mobile usage will surpass 60% of consumer households in 2018, and 85% of millennials already use mobile banking monthly.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meeting users’ expectations. In fact, an online poll of 1,600 users conducted by Harris Poll and D3 Banking Technologies found a majority of users were frustrated with digital banking during the past year: 68% of Americans overall and 73% of Millennials felt this way. Furthermore, 32% of Americans are willing to leave their current banking relationship for a better digital experience.
79% of banking operation leaders say their org existence could be threatened if they don’t update technology according to a 2018 Accenture report.
6 Digital Transformation Trends CU Engage is seeing across clients and projects
As we look at the digital banking space, we’re seeing some common trends...
1. Consolidating platforms:
We still have many clients that have been using separate online and mobile vendors or platforms. Consolidation can create better experiences for their members across channels and can lead to potential operational efficiencies.
2. Migrating off legacy UX:
Credit unions on legacy systems can see their user adoption and engagement is lacking and are demanding improved user experiences to meet member expectations. In the past, decisions might have been driven more by vendor price, but credit unions are willing to pay more now because of the indirect value of a better experience.
3. Demanding flexibility:
When we start an evaluation project, we spend a day with executives and operational teams to understand their requirement and goals. Often clients are looking for the presence of a Software Development Kit (SDK), an Application Programming Interface (API) and a partner culture that allows for customization, but many clients today aren’t equipped today with the development staff to immediately act on these requirements.
4. Deeper Integrations:
Integration is one of the key factors that credit unions consider when evaluating vendors. Again, digital banking is a portal that touches many other systems, and the depth and type of integration strongly impacts member experience. More and more credit unions are demanding API integrations over Single-Sign-On integrations.
With this type of integration the user interface is typically created by your digital banking provider or, in some cases, by the credit union themselves. Many credit unions are moving their full-service credit card integrations from Single-Sign-On to API integration.
5. Dreaming of Big Data:
As we saw earlier, the use of big data and analytics is the #2 priority of financial leaders in 2018. As CU Engage works with clients on vendor evaluations, we hear it’s a priority too, but most tend to say they don’t have a data warehouse or data lake yet, but that’s it’s a strategic initiative on their roadmap for 2018 or 2019. Vendors have noticed this as well. In some cases, they have built their own data engines that help bridge the gap.
6. Card Management:
As mentioned earlier, integrations with card processors are a top priority for many credit union’s today. Not only are credit union’s looking to integrate card balances, history, and payments into the mobile experience, but card controls, alerts and reward balances. Travel notices and dispute claims that route automatically to card processors are also an attractive API feature in demand. Card processes often offer these features within their own sites or standalone apps, but we see credit unions wanting to provide members with a single unified experience.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to update your digital banking technology to be more flexible and capable of supporting innovation. Perhaps this is already what’s keeps you up at night, and you can relate to one or more of the above 6 Digital Transformation Trends. Here are some final thoughts to consider when going through a digital evaluation:
Originally posted on CUES Inside Marketing February 2018.
Make it easy for reporters to connect with your organization.
I’ve visited hundreds of credit union websites over the years, conducting research for various projects and reviews. Many of them are excellent. In the last few years, the quality has gone through the roof in a good way with compelling graphics, helpful text and vastly improved layouts and navigation.
But there’s one section that seems to be lacking on most of these websites: a media or press section for reporters and editors.
Why? Well, here you can get a quick history of recent company activity, milestones, new customers/clients, issues and trends or events. It’s a one-stop location for a quick glance at everything your credit union in this case is doing. Editors love this stuff, and I would think your members would, too.
The media section is a smorgasbord of content for anybody looking into your organization. It’s all right there. A good media section will include:
So why don’t more credit unions have a media section? Not sure. But I do know it would be wise for more to create these pages and make it easier for reporters to research the latest activities occurring at your shop. This section increases the possibility of your credit union being included as a resource for a story in the local newspaper, an appearance on the evening news, a news spot on the radio or a resource for a well-known financial blog.
Editors and reporters don’t have a lot of time when producing stories. Deadlines always loom and anything you can do to make their jobs easier and more efficient is a huge win. Believe me, they will remember. It will prompt them to come back to you again and again—especially if you provide them with great, helpful content that benefits their audience. This, in turn, benefits your credit union with increased, educational exposure.
One of the most common themes I hear at credit union conferences nationwide is “we need to be relevant,” “we need to tell our story,” or “we need to share what we do in the community.” And the media is an excellent place to express these messages, which can be received by the masses easily. That’s what you want, right? Media exposure saves a boatload on advertising dollars and gives you additional material to share on social media and create a new conversation.
There are numerous benefits to working with local, regional and national media. I’ve written about this subject many times in the past : Doing so essentially propels you to a trusted leadership position in your area of expertise. So, again, why aren’t credit unions making it easier to connect with reporters?
One editor friend (CUES’ Lisa Hochgraf) told me: “If you’re not in your local media, you’re not in your community.” So true.
If you want to become a trusted and consistent news resource, create an informative and easy-to-use media section with pertinent contact information on your website. And be proactive in letting your local media know about this section so they know where to go when a finance-related story arises and they want a go-to person to get the information they need.
Sounds like a winning scenario to me. What’s stopping you from creating a media section on your website today?
Darren O'Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer
Member First Credit Union, Dublin, Ireland
Originally posted on CUES Inside Marketing, October 2017.
Picture this: You pull in for your morning coffee fix only to find the friendly barista has been replaced by a robot! Think Rosie from the Jetsons. The robot doesn’t care that you’re a loyal customer of five years, that you are lactose intolerant and that you take an extra shot for medicinal purposes, especially on Mondays! Nope. Rosie does two things and that’s it: makes coffee and takes money.
Where is the morning smile, where is the morning chat and where is that little bit of human interaction that along with a kick of caffeine sets you up for the day? It’s not nice. Right? Yet more and more companies are evolving this way and no more so than the financial services industry.
Due to advances in technology, marketing and businesses are becoming mere representations of data and revenue—the numbers. These numbers are important. However, the credit union industry has always recognized that our members are not numbers. And they certainly are not robots! Credit unions and their members should hold dearly their human relationship. In marketing, we have B2B and B2C; for credit union marketing, let’s coin a new term: H2H—human to human.
A Gartner study predicted that this year will be the first time ever that marketers overtake their IT peers in technology spending as they embrace technology and automation in their business. This does raise some questions; for example, is technology resulting in marketers harvesting personal data too fast and rather loosely? (If you’re a fellow European credit union I have four letters for you: GDPR—and that’s certainly a topic for another day.) A related concern for credit unions is if we become laser-focused on the latest tech gadgets, will all these advances be good—both for the science and craft of marketing and for our members?
This might seem like a naïve question for the techies among us; of course it’s a good thing. To that I say: Back up the truck, for a moment. Your focus should not be on the shiny new toy, but rather on members and how best to reach them. And if there’s a new technology that can help my credit union connect better with our members, I will probably explore it. But the priority is not deploying the latest gizmos—they’re just a vehicle to help put our members first.
A recent Oracle EMEA poll found that 48 percent of surveyed brands have implemented automation technologies in sales, marketing and customer service, with another 40 percent planning to do so by 2020. It also revealed that over the next four years, 78 percent of brands expect to provide customer service through virtual reality and 80 percent will use chatbots.
While all these advances are useful, no marketing solution will ever escape the judgment of member satisfaction and word of mouth. We cannot innovate away from the power of influence and social recommendations that encourage us to research and ponder before making a decision. Technology can only enhance rather than substitute our human understanding.
Every day, I see my colleagues, friends, and perfect strangers glued to their phones, laptops and tablets. We are in a constant state of technological control. What did we used to do with the time that we now use to binge watch Netflix or mindlessly scroll through Facebook? We went out, had actual conversations, played sports and generally had a much more fulfilling social life based on human interaction.
This fixation on technology and yearning for real interaction, both within the credit union industry and society at large, is why we need to reevaluate our marketing from a human perspective. Credit unions need to find ways to use these platforms to better connect with our members on a human level. There is no better industry positioned to do this. But we need to create marketing that sparks an emotional connection: We need to be personal, we need to start a conversation, we need be empathic (Rosie certainly can’t do this), we need to be humorous and we need to tell our story.
As my mother always said, “Everything in moderation,” and with that in mind, I believe credit unions should be taking a balanced approach to marketing technology. Understanding data and analytics is not the same as understanding human emotion. View these technology solutions as the campfire around which we share our story and nurture our member relationships.
So by all means, embrace technology, but don’t forget your members are humans. Tell your story and serve your members, and let’s leave Rosie serving the Jetsons for just a little bit longer!
Darren O'Reilly is CMO at Member First Credit Union, Dublin, Ireland.
Originally posted on CUES Inside Marketing, August 2017.
When most people initially think of video production, they think of it as the pinnacle of content generation. You have to have a camera, microphone, lights, etc. It can sometimes be complicated and costly for sure. And though it doesn’t have to be, that's the reason most think of doing video last when generating content. It usually starts with, “Let's write something.” Kind of like what we're doing here.
Don't get me wrong. There is certainly nothing wrong with writing. It's my first love and always will be—and is still very effective. But today, you have to think of how content is consumed. Writing first is the old way of thinking.
With 75 percent of all internet content generated in 2017 being video, it's time to rethink the “writing first” mantra. Video first is quickly becoming the new order.
Think about it. If you produce a video interview, like a member success story for instance, you have all the information you need in the video to write your story: quotes, background info, stats, sources. You can also extract the audio from the video to create a podcast. You have all the content necessary for a multi-channel delivery of your story: video, audio and text.
Look at most of today's top news sites like CNN, ESPN, ABC, CBS or NBC. For each posted story, those sites have a video, a downloadable audio file, a written story below the video, and sometimes a transcript for people who want to read the dialog. (Transcripts are a huge help with SEO, too.)
People consume content in numerous ways today, and you have to deliver it accordingly. There are more and more people who enjoy watching video—especially watching them on the go. There also more and more people downloading podcasts and listening to them while they work out, on the way to work, traveling or just lounging around. And then there are those of us who still enjoy sitting down and reading a good story.
So the next time you're planning to generate some new content, you might want to think “video first,” and then let that information trickle down to include other channels so it hits everybody's tastes.
For those of you who think that you have to hire an expensive film crew to make a video, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have the time and budget for a big production, then by all means go for it. For the rest of us, however, something more accessible and affordable is the right approach.
Today’s smartphones and tablets work wonderfully. Nearly everybody has one today, and we’re all using them to take selfies or make funny videos of family and friends anyway. So why not use it to make your video content? The lens is good, the mic is not bad, and it comes with editing software and plenty of memory nowadays.
Nearly every millennial and Gen Zer are creating fantastic videos from their smartphone or tablet. And they can create them in minutes. Why can’t you? It’s point, shoot, edit and post—and then promote like crazy on your social media channels.
What are you waiting for? Start creating video today and the produce the audio and text from it to meet all your members’ delivery points. Seems very upside down, but it’s an effective way to cover all your bases when generating content that sticks.
As seen on CUES
December 2016 – Vol: 39 No. 12
by Stephanie Schwenn Sebring
10 tips to help you gain the most from your social strategy.
Whether it’s sharing money ideas, a member moment or showcasing your credit union’s role in the community, the innovators are getting it right when it comes to social media.
Their mindset? Not that social is a “valid” communications tool; most everyone’s on board with that. But rather, that social media is a valuable, versatile and personal way to reach members—not used to outwardly sell, but as a way of intimately connecting with the people you serve and community at large.
Here are 10 ways to use social media most effectively.
1. Experiment and Research
“Test what works best for your members,” recommends Mike Lawson, host of CUbroadcast. “I understand many credit unions don’t have the resources to experiment with various social media networks, but this is what the experts do.”
See what works, then try it again a different day, time or in a different format, adds Marne Franklin, digital project manager for CUES Supplier member Your Marketing Company, Greenville, S.C. She reiterates that this type of exploration is consequential for credit unions: “Social lends itself perfectly to try new things, a different approach or pretest bigger campaigns.”
Learn from the experts, and let them do the groundwork for you. “Let them fail, make the mistakes and find the solutions,” continues Lawson. “Research is a huge time saver for CUs with limited resources. A little prep work can go a long way in combatting limited resources. Also, learn about the strategic risks, and use these to experiment, discover and ultimately better connect with your members.”
Strategic risks can include managing possible negative comments; the time producing and responding to social media efforts (being consistent and timely); and defining the right permissions, approvals, access, data classifications and collaboration processes.
2. Use the Right Tools
Popular platforms can help you to better manage your social channels, including Everypost, Buffer, Socialoomph, Hootsuite and Sprout Social. “If you’re an ardent Twitter user and manage multiple accounts, Hootsuite is tops,” adds Lawson. “And since CUs are often short-handed, Buffer is another tool that can save time and increase your productivity, and is especially helpful if you’re on multiple networks.”
Tools can also be used to measure success and member engagement, including clicks, views and shares, offers Franklin. “Hootsuite is one of the best products on the market; personally, I use Sendible. But whatever tools a CU decides upon, the decision should be case-by-case, based on needs, dependent on your budget and number of channels in the mix. Don’t overspend if you don’t need to.”
3. Strive for Consistency
Randy Smith, CUDE, co-founder and publisher of CUES Supplier member CUInsight.com, is adamant about the role consistency plays in a CU’s social strategy. “It’s imperative to success that there be a consistent flow of information. It enables your members to find and learn about you and the people inside your CU,” he explains. “You must know where your members are, and be where your members are.”
Brand voice should also remain constant. “It should match the tone of your website and all other marketing channels,” adds Franklin. “This preserves your brand identity, and creating a planned strategy will help keep your brand consistent on all of your channels.” She also advises against giving account admin rights randomly to individuals within the CU who may or may not understand your strategy, voice or direction.
However, if time is an issue, Smith suggests finding a talented employee who is active on a particular channel to champion it—as long as they understand your strategy and can inject your brand voice. “Strategy still falls on the marketers, but seek help from those who know how to use the channel in their personal lives,” says Smith. “Find employees who are active on social media; they can contribute to the flow of information.”
While not as prevalent as in the past, Smith urges CUs not to restrict employees from having access to social channels while at work. “Everyone should have the ability to communicate with members via social like any other communications channel, such as phone or email.”
4. Go for Engagement
It’s why any savvy business is on social media. “Use it as another layer of vibrant, personal and approachable communication with members,” offers Franklin. “Leverage your personality and involvement in the community. Let engagement be a catalyst for organic growth with post clicks and shares. Increase engagement levels by tagging members in posts, which boosts shares and accelerates your post ranking in members’ news feeds. Encourage staff to share posts as well.”
Ask employees to share the post on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, not just copy it into their status. Sharing helps to build engagement and increases the placement of the post in a user’s newsfeed, and, it enables others to share the post in its original format. It also ensures attribution to you, the CU. Those who share the post can add their own comments or endorsement.
How often should you post?
Resources permitting, Franklin suggests posting five to 10 times a week on Facebook. For Twitter, tweet at least five times a week, but Franklin adds the top guns are tweeting up to four times an hour. “Forty percent of all Twitter accounts are dormant,” she continues. “Don’t start a Twitter account and let it die after just one tweet. That’s worse than not being on (the channel) at all.”
Like all best practices, it’s striking a balance with limited resources. “But don’t worry that your followers will get inundated with your posts or tweets,” says Franklin. “They won’t see them all.”
To stay on track, take 30 minutes each week to schedule posts. “Viewing the entire week will enable you to space and schedule your posts appropriately,” says Franklin. “For promotional messages, sit down and craft your message, so they have the same tone, but not the exact text. Then have matching messages on Facebook, Twitter and possibly Instagram. For posts that perform well with your members, consider putting a few paid advertising dollars behind the post to boost engagement.”
This is a way for your content to reach non-members and members who haven’t yet liked your page, explains Franklin. Because the post doesn’t exist solely on your CU’s wall, it becomes integrated into the newsfeed of the audience you choose to target.
“Even a $50 monthly budget can gain some ground on Facebook,” she continues. “You can target the dollars based on geographic area, interests and life events. And remember, one out of every five page views (20 percent) in the U.S. happen on Facebook. Worldwide, there are over a billion daily users.”
Franklin offers this success story: “When the Wells Fargo scandal broke, one of our CU clients turned to Facebook with the message, ‘Is your money safe? Bank local. Bank with our credit union.’ The original organic post reached 1,200 people. By boosting the post for only $10, the CU was able to reach an additional audience of over 1,550 potential members. That small budget more than doubled the number of people who saw the message.”
5. Identify the Must-Have Channels
Lawson believes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are still the mainstays right now. But Instagram is closing in fast, and Pinterest may be a contender. Smith says that if you can only pick two, try Facebook and Instagram.
Smith, in particular, loves what CUs are doing with Instagram: When you compare what CUs are doing on Facebook and Twitter to their growth and activity on Instagram, CUs are ahead of the curve there, he says.
“Instagram also fits perfectly with a CU’s community message and member connection. It can present the CU philosophy quickly with photos or graphics in a more candid, expressive or descriptive way.” In 2015, Smith says, only about 10 CUs were active on Instagram. Now, at the close of 2016, almost 600 CUs are actively using the channel as part of their social strategy. As CUs continue to gain momentum, Smith envisions a similar progression with Snapchat.
Why Snapchat? Some CUs are using Snapchat to illustrate their personalities through quick hits of information.
“They’re showcasing community involvement and the CU difference,” explains Smith. He especially likes what CUES Suppler member CUNA Mutual Group and Experian have done with Snapchat, as well as Travis Credit Union, Maps Credit Union and Wings Financial Credit Union.
“With Snapchat, you can’t just ‘search and follow.’ Users connect directly with other users, making it much more about communicating back and forth.”
Snapchat is also attracting the under-35 crowd in droves right now. Bloomberg Technology reports 150 million Snapchat users daily (surpassing Twitter, which has about 140 million). And growth doesn’t seem to be slowing.
Lawson concurs that Snapchat is “very social” and popular with the younger audiences. “However, it’s not a place where educational content resides with great anticipation. For example, my 15-year-old daughter is on Snapchat, and so are all of her friends, and it is the last place she expects financial information to be. But that’s what we used to say about Facebook, and look at credit unions there now—Navy Federal Credit Union made over $200 million in loans from its Facebook page a couple of years ago. That’s what’s fascinating; social media changes, morphs and evolves by the day, it seems. So who knows with Snapchat?”
Snapchat can also be advantageous for certain live marketing scenarios. “Experiment with Snapchat at kids or collegiate-type events or even member appreciation days,” advises Franklin. Use it to broadcast snippets of live happenings, such as a member workshop or behind-the-scenes look at a community or charity event.
Still, if a CU is just starting out on social, Snapchat is probably not the first choice. “As millennials and Snapchat mature, the network could very well become an equally viable place for CUs to go,” says Lawson. The channel right now is in an experimental time for CUs and not an “all-in” place just yet.
6. Don’t Spread Efforts Too Thin
With limited resources, find a network or two and stick with them, says Lawson. Take baby steps. And keep it simple. Schedule posts ahead of time so you’re not on social media all day. Check and post in the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon and maybe once in the evening.
Using the right management tools, like the ones mentioned earlier, can also make multiple networks easier to manage. And whatever channels you choose, Franklin stresses the importance of fully engaging on those channels so that engagement will become a means of organic growth. “For instance, let your social channels be a resource for potential members considering a switch.” She adds that social can’t be considered a “trend” anymore, and if your CU is still viewing it in that manner, it’s a mistake. Consumers are now looking at business Facebook pages as part of their normal buying process.
7. Keep it Real
Authenticity is at the heart of social media. “It’s not overly produced; it’s candid and sincere,” submits Smith. “You don’t overthink or stage things. Social media lets people know who you are and what you’re all about.”
Lawson adds that while content on social channels should be informative and relevant, keeping the personal connection is vital. “Don’t be salesy; be human. Humans connect with other humans, not logos or buildings or ‘buy now’ messages. Social media and sales are like oil and water, not peanut butter and jelly. Have a personality; be genuine. That’s what connects, and that’s your goal.” He also reminds that while CUs “rock with rates,” don’t talk about it. “Social media is the place to tell your story that will connect with members. Not sell.”
8. Use #Hashtags
Relevant hashtags will boost engagement levels. “They’re a way for you to let members find topics important to them or for you to tie in with national initiatives or local events,” says Franklin. “For example, at Your Marketing Company, we use the hashtag “#yeahthatgreenville” (created by VisitGreenvilleSC) to tie in with local events we’re participating in.”
Hashtags have been a mainstay for Twitter but are gaining momentum on Facebook. “Used correctly, they’re a helpful sorting tool,” offers Franklin. “But don’t use hashtags randomly; they should make sense and correlate with your post.” (To see what hashtags are trending in the U.S., try tools like hashtagify.me.)
9. Measure Impact, Not Just Numbers
Social media already has the numbers, says Lawson. Instead, try tracking success on a more personal level: “Look for what people are actually saying in their posts on various networks. Lots of retweets, likes and shares are great, and that increased activity certainly helps in validating your social proof. But going to a deeper level with what people are saying about you gets to the core—positive or negative. It’s a conversation opportunity that everybody sees and many will react to either online or off. That’s where loyalty blooms, trust blossoms and business happens.”
Your content should also position your CU as a trusted teacher, there to help members improve their lives financially. “If you can do that, the business will follow,” continues Lawson. “It’s called ‘reciprocation.’ You do something nice for somebody; that person will do something nice back, especially if what you offer benefits their lives.” It’s about connecting with, helping and influencing followers.
10. Give it Time
Impatience can be any business’s downfall when it comes to developing a robust, committed social strategy. “Many CUs start but don’t continue because of a lackluster response from members,” concludes Lawson. “It can take a bit of time to get going. But be patient. When it does take hold, social media is incredibly beneficial and powerful and enriching for your members.”
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists CUs, industry suppliers, and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.
Originally posted on CUES Inside Marketing, January 2017.
Watching, trying and wiping out are all keys to innovation.
The first of the year is always a time of reassessment. What did we do right last year and what did we do wrong—and how can we fix those wrongs this year? It’s also a time for opportunity. That means looking to the horizon at what will make us better, more efficient, productive and, hopefully, profitable so we can keep doing this again next year and the year after.
Conducting this annual assessment, one word keeps permeating the whole process: learning. No matter who you are—a rookie, mid-level manager, or a seasoned C-suite exec—learning should never cease.
Living in San Diego, I’ve been surfing for more than 25 years and I consider myself fairly decent in most conditions the ocean offers up. Although, you probably won’t see me surfing 30-foot waves at Pe’ahi off the coast of Maui—ever. (Pe’ahi has been nicknamed “Jaws” for good reason.)
Each time I surf, I try to paddle out with somebody who is better than me. This tactic allows me to do two things: push myself to match their level and pick their brains to learn more from them. Or, if I venture out by myself, I look for the best surfer in the water and study what they do and try to pick up a new move or two.
And, of course, the internet offers thousands and thousands of hours of footage of professional surfers doing their thing. Many of them even provide tutorials of how they have developed and perfected their moves, breaking them down in a step-by-step process. Thank you, YouTube.
In essence, I’m taking lessons to get better.
The same goes for my professional life. I enjoy writing, working with video and interviewing people. I am always researching new ways to better accomplish these tasks, reading related books to increase my knowledge and talking to experts who are way better than me on how they have perfected their craft. I do this to provide a better product to my audience, clients, sponsors, etc. They deserve it, which means they will keep returning.
For example, learning the technology and process of producing online video interviews for CUbroadcast took literally hundreds of hours of trial and error, testing different apps, cameras, lighting (still trying to get this one right), framing, graphics, intros/outros, music, etc. It’s still a process I practice today. When I started experimenting seven or eight years ago, much of what I’m using today wasn’t around—not to mention online bandwidth was, for the most part, dismal.
But I kept learning, kept researching, kept trying new things, kept “taking lessons.” There’s a saying in surfing that if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough. I keep thinking about this little mantra when I’m surfing, but also when I’m doing new things in my professional life, pushing the product to be better.
From my perspective, companies like Blockbuster, Tower Records and even Sears stopped trying hard enough. It seemed like they stopped pushing their product to be better, instead being complacent with their “too-big-to-fail” business models, while others (Netflix, iTunes, Kindle, Uber, Tesla, etc.) tried, tested, perfected and leapfrogged the staid establishment.
So is your credit union trying hard enough? Are you consistently looking for ways to build a better mousetrap? Are you consistently looking to enhance your branch, online and mobile experience? Are consistently looking to tap experts’ knowledge on anything from technology to marketing to business operations? Are you consistently looking for classes and courses, webinars and seminars to simply learn more and contribute new ideas?
I just had lunch with a friend of mine who works at a local credit union. He was picking my brain on video, marketing, media, etc. for some lofty plans he has in 2017. He’s a credit union lifer, but he wants to break out of this-is-only-what-credit-unions-do silo and start doing some different revenue-generating and message-delivery projects that, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t been done before in our industry.
My friend is definitely stepping up and trying more than hard enough—and he may fall a couple of times. But he’s trying; he’s not satisfied. This is the type of thinking that creates change.
So where is your credit union? Are you satisfied with where it is today? We had a pretty good year in 2016, no doubt. Does that mean you can take it easy in 2017? No way. Keep that foot on the accelerator.
Keep taking lessons. Every little bit you absorb counts.
Sidebar alert: Much of the information I have gained over the years of research to hone my business and help others have materialized in little nuggets that amounted to big change. It seemed so minor at the time. But when you look back at all the little morsels gained over the years collectively, it’s significant. And when you see that significance, it fosters more motivation to amp up the learning.
No matter how big or small the gains, no matter your skill level, no matter your job; learning, testing, perfecting and executing can only help you and, ultimately, your organization exceed this year.
Author: Mike Lawson
Married to a most gorgeous and wonderful wife, raising 5 kiddos (including twins!), enjoy helping others tell their stories, and love surfing SoCal waves. Keep it simple.