Texas Trust Credit Union is the latest to utilize Snapchat as a means of reaching out to a younger demographic, but that's just the tip of the iceberg for how the credit union is working to better serve millennials.

When the credit union’s senior management and executives sat down to strategize about reaching students at their local university, they drew up a list of ideas and, with the help of University of Texas at Arlington’s athletic director, Texas Trust CU chose to reach out to UTA students through the popular social media application, electing to focus on Snapchat rather than Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

“It is more frequently used by students,” Shelley Carlson, vice president of marketing at Texas Trust CU, said. “It’s the right platform for the age group, especially the freshman.”

Texas Trust Credit Union has used a Snapchat photo contest to help boost awareness and grow membership among millennial consumers at the University of Texas Arlington, where the CU has an on-campus branch and is a sponsor of university athletics.
Texas Trust Credit Union has used a Snapchat photo contest to help boost awareness and grow membership among millennial consumers at the University of Texas Arlington, where the CU has an on-campus branch and is a sponsor of university athletics. Photo courtesy of Texas Trust CU

In order to boost interest and excitement among potential members at the university, the $1 billion-asset credit union awarded $2,500 to five UTA students during the CU’s “I Want Free Stuff” Snapchat photo contest. The contest attracted the attention of many students, 25 of whom opened new accounts with Texas Trust CU. The credit union isn’t an unknown entity on campus. Texas Trust is the official sponsor of UTA athletics, and has a branch at the school that serves students, faculty, and the residents and businesses surrounding the campus

For the credit union’s first ever Snapchat contest, students took Snapchat selfies inside the UTA bookstore and applied the “I Want Free Stuff” filter to enter a contest for a $500 Mastercard gift card and a 2017-18 admission pass to all UTA sporting events. The contest generated more than 250 entries and more than 2,000 filter shares among UTA students.

For the credit union, it “just made sense” to use Snapchat, Carlson said, since the credit union had used a Snapchat filter for an event earlier this year and seen results.

The contest was held in the UTA bookstore during the bookstore’s busiest time of the year—the first few days of the fall semester. For five days, around 20 employees and executives of the credit union, including President and CEO Jim Minge, worked in the UTA Bookstore helping students find books and sharing information about personal financial services.

‘Perfectly targeted’
In addition to being a successful membership growth strategy, the credit union’s campaign is getting plaudits from social media observers, too.

Texas Trust CU’s approach is one that “we should aspire to do,” said Marne Franklin, digital director of CU marketing firm Your Marketing Co.

“It’s a niche audience that was perfectly targeted,” Franklin said. “They already had an inroad with a branch there and being the official sponsor of sports teams. They did it holistically—not just with a poster here or there. There is a complete buy-in on every level.”

Franklin cautioned, however, that CUs launching marketing initiatives aimed at millennials ought to be prepared with the right products and services for that demographic. If a CU brings in students through Snapchat, it should be prepared with a mobile app and a user-friendly site. “Everyone’s mom is on Facebook,” she said. “Snapchat is that 18- to 24-year-old crowd that everyone is clamoring to get but not ready to get.”

As part of that commitment to having the right mix of offerings for the demographic it’s trying to reach, Texas Trust CU recently renovated its website and offers a mobile app where users can freeze their cards if they lose them. The CU also offers products designed to attract and retain UTA students.

Additionally, graduating students are eligible for an auto loan program tailored specifically to them, and the underwriting team also takes a student’s enrollment at UTA into account when extending lines of credit along with a student checking account that is forgiving in the overdraft area.

“Partnering with the school and being involved taking part in the athletic events keeps products at the top of our mind and whether or not we have the right products for the students, for a lifetime,” Carlson said.