Slideshow Five Tips to Develop, Improve CU Social Media Efforts

  • January 27 2016, 10:47am EST
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Whether it be announcing new product/service offers, community events, or simply important information your members should know, social media can increase visibility, communication, and strengthen the relationship between your credit union and its members. How else may your credit union benefit from social media? Going social also invites word-of-mouth endorsements. Today, personal recommendations are the top choice for people considering the purchase of goods and services. In fact, in a 2014 study, Nielsen found 84% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends and family, more than any other promotion.

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Dedicate Resources

Add a social media specialist to your staff who can manage post-frequency standards and offer stimulating content. (Most experts agree Twitter requires daily posts and other sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn should meet a weekly quota.) If your credit union’s budget doesn’t allow a full-time staff member, consider using outside or part-time resources, but stick to a regimented schedule. Also, don’t over commit; there are numerous social channels, so choose the channels where your members are most likely to be.

Develop a Policy

Formal guidelines will help make your social media program a success, so determine in advance how you want to use this channel and the types of content you will offer. Just like other communication channels, your credit union’s reputation is at stake on social media, so make sure your social sites project the image you want. Guidelines are key: style, tone, and grammar reflect your brand image and impact your member’s perception of your credit union. You’ll also want to decide who on your staff will have access to post and how to handle complaints. Make sure your policy includes guidelines for when to respond to comments or open discussion to management.

Content, Not Promotion

To drive member engagement, provide both entertaining and informative content. Consider posting links to educational articles with tips that help improve members’ financial health, such as money management, cleaning up credit, or buying a home—and if occasionally the article is on your credit union’s website, so much the better. You can also build a community feeling with your members by giving updates on charitable activities and local events that invite member participation. Keep members interested in coming back with contests, games, or trivia questions. Regarding product promotion, a good rule of thumb is three-fourths educational or informational content and one-fourth promotional.

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The key to effective communication is listening, so take note of what commenters are saying, both about your credit union and other topics of interest. Not only will this help ensure your credit union is on top of members’ kudos and concerns, it will help you stay in touch with trending topics. Listen for cues to individual member needs. Members may talk about buying a home or auto—this provides an opportunity to engage with them on your credit union’s loan products. Or perhaps they are concerned about their credit, enabling you to point them toward tips, webinars, or seminars your credit union offers.

Monitor and Respond

Online reputation management is a key part of social media operations. As Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” So, make sure your social media coordinator is empowered to respond to general comments on behalf of the credit union. If issues arise that are sensitive or more involved, quickly engage a subject-matter expert to help with responses. Just like comments in the traditional news media, it’s important to get in front of negative information being shared on social media before it escalates. Many types of social media monitoring software, both free and relatively inexpensive, are also available online for discovering when your credit union is mentioned and enabling a timely response.

Embrace the Journey

Success does not happen overnight, so be open to learning along the way. MDC is certainly still adjusting and fine-tuning our practices as we continue to gain momentum with followers and increase our visibility online. Be patient, be strategic, and learn from your credit union’s experiences.Social media is an excellent way to engage members and attract newcomers. Think of it as a community conversation – where your credit union is offering advice and thought-leadership while listening to your members’ concerns and ideas.

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Krista Boyum is social media coordinator for MEMBERS Development Company, a CUSO owned by more than 40 credit union organizations that offers access to research and development of member products and services.