3 Ways To Build Connections Through Social Media

Tips and tricks from three cooperatives that present personality and add a human touch to social posts.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • Promoting personal stories via social media can boost member engagement and deepen members’ sense of connection to the credit union.
  • Posting strategies can also promote local businesses while entertaining followers.

Status update? Not good enough.

The same old social media messaging doesn’t cut it anymore. To stay top of mind, credit unions are looking beyond old school posts and tweets to interact with followers, establish relationships, and promote great rates and low fees.

Here, Veridian Credit Union, Education Credit Union, and Golden 1 Credit Union share social media strategies and best practices they have implemented to engage users and strengthen membership ties.

Nothing Like The Real Thing

“People can tell when it’s real,” says Sarah Corkery, vice president of marketing for Veridian Credit Union ($5.9B, Waterloo, IA).

Since 2016, Veridian has used its social channels to introduce employees and share staff milestones and anniversaries. The marketing, personnel, and recruitment teams collaborate to identify sharable events and personnel stories. Employees who want to participate can talk about why they are proud to work at Veridian or share professional or personal stories. As part of the effort, Veridian invests in professional headshots to create a consistent look in the posts.

According to Corkery, these updates have nearly double the reach of promotional posts.

“We have almost 25,000 followers,” the marketing VP says. “Our loan promotions and other product posts reach about 1,000 users on average.”

By comparison, posts that highlight employees reach roughly twice as many users. One post even surpassed the 4,000 mark.

The credit union tracks reach anyone who has seen the post as well as engagement anyone who comments, likes, or shares. Both see a lift when real people take center stage, and those updates regularly receive more comments from followers.

Over the years, Veridian has expanded its focus beyond employee milestones to include board members, employee-engagement events, and tie-ins to larger themes, such as highlighting women leaders during Women’s History Month. The credit union respects employees’ privacy by not tagging them personally and making it clear they are not obligated to be featured.

“It’s all about being authentic,” Corkery says. “We want to celebrate our culture and showcase real things on social media.”

To formulate a similar strategy, she advises other credit unions talk to their employees, invite them to participate, and embrace creativity.

Celebrate The Credit Union And The Community

Education Credit Union ($372.9M, Amarillo, TX) recognizes the toll the past two years has taken on local businesses. So, it decided to do something different in December 2021.

“We wanted to give back to local businesses,” our members, and the community, says Lindsey Murphy, senior vice president of marketing and business development at the 30,000-member institution.” It’s been a tough time for everyone. We wanted to engage our team and have some fun doing it.”

That fun took the form of a 12 Days of Christmas social media giveaway contest that reached more than 6,513 users. It generated more than 600 visits to Education’s Facebook page along with 13 new” likes” and 578 total reactions.

“All of this engagement within just 12 days,” Murphy says.

Staff members were vital to the giveaway contest. The marketing team polled employees, many of whom are also members, to find out what they like to do in their downtime and which small businesses they frequent. The credit union also organized a photo shoot to boost holiday cheer. Employees struck silly poses while decked out for the holidays in everything from ugly Christmas sweaters to Grinch gear. Importantly, the campaign showcased the people behind the institution.

“It humanizes who we are,” Murphy says. “Banking is not tangible, so it’s important we show the people behind it. We’re your neighbors, and we like to go to the same places you do and support local businesses just like you.”

Beyond the holiday season, Education Credit Union highlights a different team member every month on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn . It also profiles staffers in its newsletter so members can get to know employees they might never meet in person, such as the call center manager.

The key to success, says Murphy, is involving the entire team, from the CEO to front-line staff.

“Ask them where they like to go and what they’d like to see on social,” Murphy advises. “More than likely, that’s what your general membership wants to see.”

Demystifying Leaders, Forging Connections

With more than 1,900 employees statewide, Golden 1 Credit Union ($18.3B, Sacramento, CA) began sharing leadership profiles in fall of 2021 to connect with staff while boosting member and community engagement.

“We’re always looking for ways to share the credit union story,” says Erica Taylor, vice president, communications and community relations. “During COVID and working from home, the importance of telling our story was amplified and we needed to find new ways to connect.”

On Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, Golden 1 shares leadership profiles that showcase the job responsibilities, personal interests, and backgrounds of the cooperative’s leaders. The goal of the series is to engage employees as well as members; help them get know leaders at a deeper, more personal level; and forge a connection with the people behind Golden 1’s decision-making, culture, and teams.

With more than 1 million members, Golden 1 has a robust social media following. The big cooperative doesn’t have specific statistics to share about the leadership series, but it has found its audience to be receptive. Internally, the feedback has been positive as well, with staff saying they have enjoyed getting to know one another better.

For credit unions that want to personalize their social strategies, Taylor advises them that the first step is simply to listen.

“Sentiment is something we measure and monitor closely to stay abreast of inquiries and problems,” the vice president of communications says. We don’t approach social as only a tool to get the word out. We want to listen and learn from our members and communities as well.

February 21, 2022

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