The Most Popular Credit Union On Facebook

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RADCLIFF, Ky. — With more than 5,500 "friends," Fort Knox FCU here is the most popular credit union on Facebook.

"In our first three weeks on Facebook, we got nearly 4,700 friends," about 70% of whom are members, said Holly Stapleton, marketing manager at the $960-million CU. "From that point on, we've had more friends than any other credit union."

Fort Knox FCU landed on Facebook about a year ago.

Better yet, about 70% of those friends are members, not other credit unions or industry groupies, said Brian Tindle, communications specialist at Fort Knox FCU.

Numbers are important gauge of the CU's success on Facebook, but more important are the emerging friendships, Stapleton suggested. Fort Knox FCU "friends" on Facebook become actual, honest-to-goodness friends-not simply social-media statistics, she said.

"We want people on Facebook to get to know us as individuals," Stapleton explained. "We want to show that we're real people, and that we're people you want to know. We're in rural Kentucky, and a friendly, familiar face in business is vital in this market."

"Facebook provides members with another way for members to communicate with us," said Tindle. Facebook provides an outlet that can't be matched by any other communications channel, he said. "A lot of members are more comfortable talking to us on Facebook than in the branch."

Fort Knox FCU chats with Facebook members in informal tones and shudders at the thought of directly selling products or services, Stapleton said. Recent posts include "Check out this lunch savings calculator," and "Come join us for fresh baked cookies."

"We're always thinking of the best way to protect and educate the member," she continued. "It's a very subtle marketing approach."

A current Facebook campaign allows members to share financial tips on "Frugal Friday." The tips encourage members to talk shop with other members, creating an entirely new social sub-community online, said Stapleton.

Fort Knox FCU also responds to posts from members about account problems, typically within 30 minutes during business hours, she said.

Inappropriate posts are rare, even though Fort Knox FCU allows friends to post "what they want," Stapleton said. "We very seldom have to block posts."

The CU isn't able to provide metrics that prove its approach is attracting new members or increasing sales. But Stapleton said she feels Facebook has helped Fort Knox FCU "diversify the membership and reach a new target demographic."

The CU's initial drive for Facebook friends has been its most successful campaign, in terms of attracting new friends, said Stapleton. Every time the CU registered 100 new friends, it gave away a $50 gift card. In two weeks, nearly 4,700 people had befriended the CU.

Facebook is the social media site of choice for Fort Knox FCU, said Stapleton. "We've dabbled in Twitter, but we don't get the same response. You can't go in to depth on Twitter." The CU also posts financial education videos on YouTube.

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