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HOW TO BECOME A PART OF THE ONLINE CONVERSATION

HOW TO BECOME A PART OF THE ONLINE CONVERSATION
Posted: Apr 16, 2018
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5 Best Practices for Building Your Brand Online

[Editor's Note: This article was previously published in CUES Skybox, and has been modified.]

“Are you using social media?” Often when a credit union’s management is asked this question the answer is almost always a resounding yes! However, for some, this ‘yes’ just confirms that the credit union has established a Twitter account, or that a Facebook page exists. It doesn’t mean that the credit union is engaged or actively participating in the social media space – meaning posting relevant, value-added content consistently; responding to comments from your members timely and/or garnering qualified leads from your social media presence. More importantly, having a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter page doesn’t mean that you are a part of the online conversation; if your social content is static, your credit union’s products and services are probably not being mentioned in any of the threads. Also, your brand does not show up in relevant searches by prospective or existing members or in any online reviews that inform potential members.

Why is social media important? It is important that your CU has a strong online presence because that is the first place your prospective members go when they are in the information gathering and decision-making stages. Additionally, positive views or sentiments expressed about your CU online, help to build your brand image and reputation. Having said that, here are a few best practices that you may want to consider as you work towards building your CU’s social presence.

1. Focus on what your members want rather than what you want to say

When creating content, focus on your members’ needs. Create buyer personas (profiles of what your targeted customers look like), then produce content that answer questions they would ask themselves; such as, what products or services fulfill my needs/lifestyle? While covering general topics is good, it is better to create content that help individuals to find solutions to their specific pain points. Think about the personas’ intent, then create/provide the relevant content to alleviate that.

2. Make your brand stand out

Incorporate your CU’s name in posts; build a natural, human and conversational relationship with your members and think of creative ways to build engagement. Also, establish a persona for your own brand and stick to it. So, with the best practices for each social media channel in mind, decide on your tone, look and feel, content and messaging and focus on the issues that are relevant to your members. Customers build relationships with brands they can relate to.

3. Proactively drive the online conversation in your favor

Take control of your content and the medium used to distribute it; don’t just leave it to chance. Include consumer/community outreach programs, events and your staff to show a softer side to your credit union and encourage conversation. Use the “people helping people” motto and community mindedness of credit unions to your advantage.  Younger demographics, particularly Gen Z, are said to be more local minded and philanthropic, so this is a good way to reach them and encourage membership. Also, your online strategy should promote your CU’s ties to the community; share member experience and stories of exceptional service; as well as, leverage financial education and thought leadership.

4. Make Instagram a part of your SM strategy

Why Instagram? Firstly, it is a great medium to use for the community-type content mentioned above as it is built on a community model that is driven by impactful photos and videos. Secondly, according to Brandwatch.com over 60% of Instagram’s 800 million users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook, and engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.  Despite these facts, a recent audit of more than 100 Visa issuers revealed that many financial institutions are not realizing the full potential of social media marketing due to lack of understanding of the landscape, the audience and the channels. (https://usa.visa.com/partner-with-us/visa-performance-solutions/six-social-marketing-tactics-for-financial-institutions.html) Thirdly, this medium presents a good opportunity to reach younger demographics. Here are some engagement tips if you decide to make Instagram a part of your SM strategy.

5. Incorporate paid media/online advertising into your strategy

Paid media (online advertising) gives you an opportunity to promote your CU to a larger but more targeted market. It allows you to use specific metrics to help you to reach your desired audience. It also offers more control and better measurement and reporting capabilities. Additionally, paid media can help to amplify owned media (website, blogs, social media sites) and earned media (PR, online reviews, social media comments). Research also shows that social media channel specific algorithms favor paid media, so there are better opportunities for reach and engagement. According to an article about Facebook news algorithm on Adweek.com, “If you want to get your content in front of more people, you have to pay for it. Like any other marketing platform, Facebook is more effective for businesses that use paid media. With paid media, your business reaches greater audiences with greater accuracy than possible with organic content.”

We could go on with this list but incorporating these 5 best practices is a start to get you from just having an account to not only having a strong presence, but becoming a part of the conversation online. Make 2018 the year you truly embrace and invest in social media. Whether you are going to employ someone dedicated to building and managing your presence, partner with a third party and/or purchase an automation tool, make social media a line item in your budget!

 

For a deeper dive into this and other topics important to credit unions’ strategy and growth join us May 8-11 at Trellance’s annual conference, immersion18, in Ft Lauderdale.

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Shelly-Ann Wilson Henry

Shelly-Ann Wilson HenryShelly-Ann Wilson Henry

In her role as PR & Communications Manager, Shelly-Ann plays a critical role in the development, distribution and management of the content that supports Trellance’s thought leadership agenda.

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