CUs Searching For New Friends The Social Media Way

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BOSTON – As credit unions pile into new avenues of social media they will want to measure carefully the effects of this growing marketing tool, according to a new study released this week by Aite Group.

Credit unions have been slow to dip their toes into social media but are rapidly joining Facebook, Twitter and introducing their own blogs, with as many as 90% of all credit union surveyed expecting to expand into some social media forum in the next two years, according to the study, “Social Media at Credit Unions: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.”

Aite Group surveyed 50 credit union executives online during October. The credit unions were from $100 million or more in assets.

Facebook is the most popular form of social media being used among credit unions, with 63% of respondents using it; while 51% are on Twitter; 44% on YouTube; 40% on LinkedIn; 28% having some kind of blog and 18% offering a customer review site.

The most successful of the media are Facebook, then blogs, then Twitter, then YouTube, then customer review sites, according to the study. The forms of contact being defined as social media are member-generated content, the site LinkedIn and personal photo sharing sites.

“Although many of the credit unions are using sites and tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the primary focus of the credit unions’ social media efforts to date has been on their own sites,” said the study, noting that one-third of credit unions said their social media efforts have been focused on their own sites.

As credit unions expand their efforts at social media they want to make sure they measure its effects and potential properly, said Aite Group. So they will want to develop an engagement and measurement approach and be able to profile their initial fan base. They may also want to create an initial control group of social media users and track their engagement with the credit union.

Since most survey participants questioned whether additional funding will be available for social media initiatives, Aite Group recommended that social media programs be closely aligned with marketing.

The overwhelming portion of respondents, 90%, said they use social media to engage members; 78% said their main purpose is building brand awareness; 76% said building brand affinity; and 69% said retaining members. More than half, 59%, use it to manage their corporate reputation; 43% focus on generating sale revenue; 43% to manage stakeholder opinions; and 33% for managing a crisis.

Few of the credit unions surveyed have dedicated budgets for social media, but fund it through their marketing departments, others through their IT departments.

 

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