Why One CU Created A Social Media Department

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EL PASO, Texas-Soon after venturing into the social media world, El Paso Employees FCU discovered that it was going to take more than one person to tackle the task of interacting with thousands of members. So the $284-million institution revamped its marketing department, with AVP of Marketing Tori Burton taking charge of the medium and adding social media specialist Elisa Terrazas. Below the CU talks about why it made the moves and dedicated one person just to social media.

Credit Union Journal: What is your capacity at the CU?
Tori Burton
: At El Paso Employees FCU our marketing department has substantially changed over the past year in the way we communicate with our members. Starting July of last year we began developing all of our own marketing materials in-house. This shift has changed the way our department advertises to our members. We have repositioned ourselves to a member service standpoint rather than a strictly sales approach, thus allowing for a more open flow of communication with members. With the ability to create our own materials, we've been able to take control of what we produce. Our focus is on creating resources that are educational for our members. We feel that the social media is an extension of this focus.

CUJ: How important is social media at the CUCU?
Burton: It is tremendously important that [we] maintain a presence on as many social media sites as possible. Social media is quickly becoming a way of life for today's fast-paced world. According to a presentation by Sheshunoff consulting solutions, in 2008, the amount of time spent on social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, act) increased by 63%. In addition, a white paper by Socialware reported that if Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest. It is important that we stay up to date on the ways that our society communicates in order to be able to effectively reach as many of our members or potential members as we can. We are currently still working on the development of our social media strategy and felt that as a two-person department, it would be difficult to tackle this task full force. Shortly after beginning this endeavor, we realized that this plan would involve much more than simply logging onto Facebook and making a quick post on our wall. We decided that it would be best to bring on a person who would be fully dedicated to the social media aspect of our department.

CUJ: How has the CU's involvement in social media grown?
Burton: Social media has only recently begun to be an integral part of how we conduct business. Social media is a rapidly growing movement and we feel that it is important for each individual credit union to assess what forms of social media would better suit their business. Trying to jump into the social media movement too quickly and without a plan could cause unwanted repercussions.

CUJ: What are your goals and how will the expansion of the social media "division" achieve those goals?
Burton: Our overall goal for social media is to provide the best service for our members as possible. We plan to create "self help" blogs webinars, media libraries and podcasts that will educate our members. Short-term, we plan to create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs as a way to effectively communicate with the millions of people who log on to the web every day.

CUJ: What do you do as a "social media specialist?"
Elisa Terrazas: As a social media specialist, it is my responsibility to implement a social media plan that will place [the CU] at the forefront of today's fast paced, technologically savvy world. We plan to utilize social media sites...to increase our marketing techniques while at the same time providing an additional service to our members. We have spent several weeks now planning out our social media plan. We have had to create policies and procedures that will be in place for me to follow in order to make certain that we stay in line with certain regulations.

CUJ: Do you think the CU movement will see more positions such as yours popping up over the years?
Terrazas: As our presence on these social media sites grows, we hope to be an influence in the way that the credit union industry services its members. Although delving into the virtual world may still seem like a daunting task to undertake, we hope to lead by example and show others how truly important and beneficial it is for today's businesses to make the most of our ever-changing technological world. As the social media movement continues to grow, I fully expect for more "social media specialist" positions to emerge. Social media is changing the way we do business, and it is important for companies to evolve with the social media world in order to continue to provide the best service possible.

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