S Is For Social

These alphabetized tips from Navy Federal Credit Union show how to take social media from an operational check mark to a well-developed business line.

At The Financial Brand Forum held this spring in Las Vegas, Michael Toner, the manager of social media at Navy Federal Credit Union ($66.8B, Merrifield, VA) presented on the strategies and best practices that have helped his credit union transition from social media as an experiment to social media as a thriving, measurable business line.

Below is a quick, by-the-letter recap of some of Toner’s key takeaways.

A is For Acknowledgement
In a time when multi-county, multi-state, or even national memberships are commonplace, the idea of community also needs to evolve and grow in the digital space, Toner told attendees.

Ten percent of households switch financial institutions every year, he explained, and 70% of those begin that process by looking at websites, search engines, and social.

B Is For Beginning

When they began in 2009, Navy’s two-person social team focused primarily on creating audience profiles, segmenting conversations, and measuring brand activities and audience engagement. A few years later, the credit union stepped up that initial investment by increasing its staffing to include seven social media strategists and five social care specialists.

You’ve got to actually be doing social media in order for it to work, Toner noted, yet these early commitments are often some of the biggest hurdles for an institution.

C Is For Convergence

While social efforts are already starting to drive real business results, the next steps for Navy are to become more strategic (including expanding social training to more departments) and, ultimately, to achieve social media convergence. Toner cited IBM as a prime example of the latter, as it offers all employees access to approved social content they can share on their personal accounts without any worries of repercussions.

D is For Division

There’s a member service and marketing side of social, but corporate communications will also want to use it to connect with journalists, and HR will want to use it for recruiting, Toner told attendees, so establish a plan and a system of ownership that can extend across multiple use cases. For example, when a membership campaign created hundreds of questions about eligibility, Toner’s team was able to create an eligibility wizard that could be shared by other departments to efficiently address the issue.

E is For Evolution

Facebook dark posts a technique which allows you to publish multiple variations of the same ad on different news feeds without them showing up on your own and other behind-the-scenes strategies are becoming more well known to consumers and thus less effective.

That’s why Navy is instead focusing on transparent, authentic content marketing. An example would be having a small-business expert answer questions gathered from its social accounts on video and then posting that content back into those same channels, Toner said.

F Is For Front And Center

If social is treated as a second-tier service and communication channel, it will likely see second-tier usage levels, so plan now how to get these options the exposure they deserve. On Navy’s contact page, social is listed with equal prominence right next to the call center, branches, and other service options, indicting that it is an effective user tool for real credit union business.

G is For Guaranteed

Navy’s current social media dashboard tracks several important metrics including the number of social posts, new connections, and even its member match rate (the amount of current membership that make up its Facebook fan base.)

The department also tracks member requests as part of an established service level agreement, which measures not just the number of requests or questions received but also aims to solve all issues within 30 minutes or less.

H is For Help

If you’re paying attention, social presents opportunities for helping members in all aspects of their life, not just the financial, Toner advised. For example, when a member posted on her personal account about how she had forgotten to get a calling card for her significant other’s Christmas care package, Navy responded to her with a handwritten note of appreciation and a free calling card to send along. The member later posted a picture of the gift along with an online thank you note to the credit union for its thoughtfulness.

I is For Impact

Who says social doesn’t pay? According to Navy’sFacebook page, its 4 million members, 4 million stories campaign, which encouraged members to talk about their best experience with the credit union on Facebook, also helped generate:

  • 60,000 new members
  • $90 million in new CDs
  • $96 million in auto refinances
  • A 59% boost in the credit union’s website traffic
  • 5,000 daily Facebook referrals versus a baseline of 200
July 7, 2015

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