4 Tips To Tell 5 Million Member Stories

Different campaigns and processes help Navy Federal improve its social media presence.

With 5.7 million members, nearly $70 billion in assets, and 269 branches across the globe, Navy Federal Credit Union ($69.8B, Merrifield, VA) is not only the nation’s largest credit union but also one of the most active on social media.

We recognize that social media is an important channel in how we engage with our members and an important channel for positioning Navy as a trusted financial advisor, says Michael Toner, the credit union’s social media manager.

Navy has more than 1 million Facebook likes, 700 YouTube subscribers, 71,000 Twitter followers, 26,000 LinkedIn followers, and 10,700 Instagram followers.

This past Valentine’s Day, it even used the short-form video-sharing service Vine to send 63 six-second videos to members throughout the day. And it continues to evaluate other content that would fit the short-form format.

It was a test for us to see if this channel allowed us to engage our members and have a one-to-one dialog with them, Toner says.

Navy’s approach is not for the faint of heart, but credit unions cannot afford to ignore the growing role social media plays in the life of commerce. Fortunately, even the smallest credit unions can follow a few tips from Navy FCU to take advantage of the member insights social channels provide.

1. Engage First, Sell Later

Toner thinks of the entire member experience as a journey, and social media as a part of that journey.

To that end, Navy doesn’t focus on selling products upfront; rather, it shares financial literacy or education-based content.

We are not actively pushing or selling, Toner says. We are helping to educate and inform so when members do enter the home-buying process or take out their first credit card, they will think about Navy Federal and how we helped them get started with that journey.



Examples of Navy’s Twitter presence.

2. Segment And Track For Success

To determine how well its social posts are engaging members, Navy tracks several metrics over a weekly and monthly basis. Two of its more important metrics are the number of outbound published posts and the number of inbound engagements, the latter defined as aggregate total of likes, shares, comments, and retweets. From there, Toner calculates the credit union’s average engagements per post.

According to Toner, that average which was 82 in 2014 is important.

It’s an indicator that we are not bombarding our members with too much information, he says. We’re not constantly posting and they are becoming numb to it. Rather, we are posting the right amount for them to continually actively engage with us.

The credit union further dissects outbound posts as well. Navy differentiates between member service posts, such as comments and responses to inbound member inquiries, and engagement posts. For example, in August 2015, the credit union published 136 engagement posts and responded to 2,258 member service messages and posts.

3. Understand That Time Moves Fast Online

Navy began its foray into social media in 2009. In the six years since, social media has evolved, and with it, the credit union’s strategies to improve its user experience.

In 2009, the credit union had two dedicated social media strategists. But as inbound inquiries jumped 14% year-over-year, according to Toner the team needed to expand. Navy now employs seven dedicated social media strategists who provide real-time responses and personal attention to members 24/7.

With the increase in headcount, the credit union has been able to lower its response rate from the 120 minutes it averaged at the start of 2015 to the 15 minutes it has reached in the nine months since. And Navy FCU hopes to further reduce that to an average of five minutes.

Being responsive on social media is critical, Toner says. Social media gives our members direct access to us, and they expect a response.

4. Design Social Media Campaigns

Social media is a great tool for responding quickly to member inquiries, but it can also be a fruitful channel for credit union marketing campaigns that encourage member participation.

One of Navy’s most effective recurring social events is a monthly live Facebook QA session, its way of using the real-time power of social media to talk with members. In these sessions, credit union subject matter experts directly answer members’ questions on a variety of topics.

It’s a unique opportunity on both sides, Toner says. Our members have direct contact and immediate response from our experts. And two, our experts inside the credit union directly hear from our members.

Other campaigns from Navy FCU have supported small business week Navy produced 60-90 second YouTube videos that showcased the story of five small business owners as well as Military Appreciation Month when more than 6,000 people completed Navy’s Tribute Trivia quiz on Facebook.

However, one of its most successful 2015 campaigns has been Join The Family, a user-generated photo submission campaign the credit union has run over the past nine months on all its social channels. Join The Family allows members to tell how they became a member, to share why they love the credit union, or to show their military lifestyle.

Navy’s social channels have directed more than 3,500 views to the Join The Family website, and members have submitted more than 600 photos. From this site, the credit union has received 310 new membership applications and millions of paid impressions and engagements.


Infographic courtesy of Navy Federal.

Like its other social campaigns, Navy FCU has not run Join The Family solely to drive new member applications. Instead, it wanted to engage members. And that engagement has allowed the credit union to organically drum up interest in its products and services.

We wanted to highlight our member’s stories but we also wanted to inform them about Navy’s membership eligibility, Toner says. Hence the name, Join The Family.

October 5, 2015

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