Social distancing is raising the bar for effective, responsive social media work at member-owned financial cooperatives.
Wright-Patt and Greater Texas are recording increased engagement and fielding more requests for information about immediate needs.
Adam Wik, Public Relations & Social Media Specialist, Wright-Patt Credit Union
Social media is taking some of the sting out of social distancing. It’s also helping savvy credit union marketers double down on member service in this time of great need.
Long a venue for friendly banter and upbeat marketing, those channels now are doing double duty as information lifelines for member-owned cooperatives like Wright-Patt Credit Union ($5.1B, Beavercreek, OH) and Greater Texas Federal Credit Union ($688.1M, Austin, TX).
“We’ve been getting requests for member service and help through the COVID-19 situation every day through Facebook,” says Adam Wik, who joined WPCU as public relations and social media specialist a little more than a year ago after working marketing at a local hospital and university. “Our members rarely post requests for service through other social platforms [LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram at WPCU], but we’re still seeing strong impressions and know members are checking all these pages often for updates.”
Stop The “Mindless Scroll”
For Lauren McClung, who’s also been at her job as digital media specialist at GTFCU for approximately a year, the pandemic has presented the opportunity to counter what she calls the “mindless scroll” inherent to much social media use.
Lauren McClung, Digital Media Specialist, Greater Texas FCU
“As marketers, we’re taught to create and share beautiful on-brand content,” McClung says. “I believe the real marketing challenge is to create and share content that immediately captures attention and stops a consumer’s mindless scroll.”
Now, with quarantining leading many people to spend even more time than usual on social media, the need to engage has blended with the imperative to serve in unprecedented fashion. That’s a lot of punch each post — whether public messages about service availability and consumer alerts about scams or virtual hands-on service with staff — must pack.
“Our content strategy has changed to focus primarily on coronavirus-related communication,” McClung says. “There’s been an increase in the number of people reaching out through private social media messages asking questions about their own accounts and ways to receive help through this pandemic.”
FAQs In Real Time
That’s where collaboration between marketers and back-office people who provide direct member service becomes critical.
“Social is a great way to provide timely information if your organization has social media support running in the background,” says Wik at WPCU. “I’m thankful for our member service excellence and marketing teams anticipating member questions while building a central resource for member information on our website.”
Much of that resource building is currently happening in real time, even as the pandemic is creating complex situations for people’s work and personal lives and finances.
Appreciation Friyay is part of Greater Texas’s effort to be a community cheerleader during these trying times.
Greater Texas also encourages members to share positive news about their quarantine activities.
On its social media, the Austin credit union also offered an update on stimulus check processing.
Wright-Patt lays out the rules — and recommendations — of engagement during this time of COVID-19.
Among its posts, WPCU has also provided an explanation of Reg D, which limits the number of cash withdrawals.
WPCU president and CEO Doug Fecher was among staffers captured by camera out helping direct traffic at a busy drive-thru in the Dayton area.
Ohio’s biggest credit union also uses social media postings to warn about scams popping up during the pandemic and to send members to the cooperative’s resource page.
McClung says the most frequent question she gets — including from her 3,200 Facebook and 600 Instagram followers — is how to complete a specific transaction online. Another one is the credit score needed to get a lower rate on a specific loan type.
Still others want to know about the requirements and when they might receive stimulus payments, emergency loans, or other relief coming from Washington.
“Members have many scenarios and reach out in posts to ask questions that should be answered by the IRS instead of the credit union,” says Wik at WPCU. “It takes time to navigate them to a resource that can help.”
Who’s Doing All This?
McClung says she tries to post at least one time every day on each channel. She also handles most of the comments and interactions on the sites, with help from marketing colleagues when necessary. Same with Wik.
5 Principles For Social Media Today
Lauren McClung shares the key principles she puts into place every day in her social media work as digital media specialist at Greater Texas Credit Union (emphasis is hers).
Be mindful of the situational context of your membership and adjust your content strategy appropriately.
Respond to everyone, and consider how you would want to be communicated with if you were in their situation.
Recognize this is an unprecedented time for everyone, and everyone is processing their loss, grief, fear, and more when they’re interacting with you online.
Do not make light of this situation or downplay the importance of COVID-19 or the impact this virus has had on the world.
Do not use fear-mongering tactics to sell products or services or to amplify the anxieties or feelings of your members through this time. Be a steadfast, calming presence for your members.
“Right now, I’m writing all the posts and responses across our social media,” the WPCU digital communications specialist says. “But I’m supported by our member service excellence and marketing teams.”
Together, they help the Ohio credit union respond with agility and accuracy to fast-changing circumstances and needs.
“I lean on those resources and craft our social media to share information with our members,” Wik says. “And, as much as possible, we encourage each member to reach out to us for one-on-one help.”
Branding Their Value
Much of the increased member engagement has involved showing those accustomed to branch service how to engage digitally. But the learning taking place on social media goes both ways.
“Social can help disseminate information to members in real time so they know where to go for the fastest solutions to their problems,” Wik says. “And, it can identify new ways to support members.”
He says message impressions have about doubled and engagements have more than tripled since COVID-19 emerged. Each one of those positive interactions helps to not only sustain the brand but also build business for the future.
McClung at Greater Texas also sees the future benefit in helping members now.
“Our primary goal should be to be fully present for our members through this, rather than to sell them products,” the digital media specialist says. “Members, and people who are not yet members, are looking closely at how businesses are treating employees and customers. The actions your organization takes now will have a significant impact on future business.”
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