Take Command Of Your Online Brand

First Community couples social media with big-name sponsors, giveaways, and special events to engage members and improve the member experience.


Top-Level Takeaways

  • First Community Credit Union has a presence on several social channels and, to date, counts more than 5,000 followers across them all.
  • The credit union answers every review as quickly as possible, with everyone on the marketing staff taking responsibility for checking a shared account and helping to respond.


First Community Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.18

HQ: Houston, TX
MEMBERS: 129,190
ROA: 1.21%

This May marks the seventh anniversary of Facebook’s record-setting $104 billion IPO. Investors and marketers alike were singing the praises of Facebook’s business model in 2012, but how to tap into social media to drive revenue was anyone’s opinion.

Today, social media reviews are inextricably linked to brand reputation and can have a significant impact on growth. In fact, a recent presentation to the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council suggests that social media is now the favored channel by 34% of consumers, and improvements to a credit union’s online reputation can increase its bottom line by up to $204 per year per member.

First Community Credit Union ($1.4B, Houston, TX) has watched social media evolve from a new platform for marketing to a content-driven way to engage members. The Lone Star State cooperative began its social media journey nearly eight years ago, starting with Facebook and Twitter before moving onto Instagram and more.

Today, the credit union integrates big-name sponsors, giveaways, and special events into its social media strategy, which focuses on engaging members and improving the member experience. And with so many social channels to monitor, there’s a fair amount of policing to ensure a consistent brand experience.

Embracing Social Engagement

When we first got into social media, we didn’t understand the things we should be posting, recalls Amber Magee, vice president of marketing at First Community. We put our promos out there, talked about our products, and tried to sell. Through the years, we learned that is not what we should be doing. I’s about showing engagement, showing you’re human, and putting fun things out there.

Oscar Lara, senior multimedia designer and analyst at First Community, says the credit union tries to post at least three times a day based on the following daily themes:

  • Motivation Monday: Posts with inspirational messages to begin the week.
  • Tip Tuesday: Advice on cleaning, saving money, getting organized, and more.
  • Watercooler Wednesday: Public opinion posts on a range of trending topics.
  • Thankful Thursday: Posts related to things, people, and places to feel thankful for.
  • Fan Friday: News and giveaways related to the credit union’s sponsorship with the Houston Texans NFL team.

When we look at social, we try to make content that we would want to see, Lara says.

According to the multimedia designer, time and again the team is surprised at what blows up on social media. For example, one Watercooler Wednesday post asked members which doughnut they liked more Krispy Kreme or Shipley’s. The seemingly innocuous post fired up doughnut lovers and created more than 2,500 impressions and 53 comments. The team also noted increased engagement with an Android versus iPhone post.

Who knew First Community’s post about doughnuts would bring out dozens of members with a sweet tooth?

Social Promotion

First Community still includes promotional content about products and services on its social channels, but the marketing tie in is more subtle, says chief marketing officer Nancy Trennel.

Every campaign has some social element to it, the CMO says. We promote it on the web, on social, in our lobbies, and on every kiosk.

In one popular social promotion, the credit union urged members to tag two people in an enter-to-win campaign in which the winner won tickets to see the Houston Texans. That promotion created some 20,000 engagements on social.

The Texans are a big name in Houston, Magee says. That has helped us grow our name on Facebook.

Tha’s because First Community is the official credit union of the Houston Texans. When they open a Texans Checking account, fans receive a Houston Texans debit card and the chance to win autographed jerseys and other merchandise as well as exclusive trips and access to VIP events.

First Community uses social to promote its Texas Texans Checking account through giveaways of tickets and merchandise.

Spot-on messaging combined with the popularity of the football team in real life has helped the credit union expand its brand in the virtual one. The credit union has more than 5,000 followers across its social properties and has set a target goal to reach 10,000.

We’re gaining followers and bringing in new accounts, Magee says. Over the past three years, it has skyrocketed, and a lot of that is due to content.

Responding To Online Comments

As social properties grow, credit unions must actively monitor and respond to online comments and ratings. Research shows that up to 85% of consumers expect a response within 24 hours or sooner. Seventy-three percent of consumers give bad reviews to help others avoid bad service, 48% want a refund, and 39% want a policy change or an apology.

At First Community, the credit union sends all social comments through a group mailbox for marketing personnel to ensure prompt attention.

We answer every review as quickly as possible, Magee says. Everyone’s responsible for checking and helping to respond.

The credit union created templated responses to address negative reviewers. It also instructs staff to collect the details of the feedback and take the discussion offline to avoid exposing personal information on social media. But the team at First Community doesn’t focus solely on negative feedback.

We also get a ton of five-star reviews, Magee says. We try to personalize our responses to the person and to the situation.

One example would be something along the lines of: Thank you for your five-star response. We think Juan’s pretty great too.

Real-Time Brand Monitoring

Social Sites To Scrutinize

To keep track of all posts and reviews relevant to credit unions, CUBrandMonitor brings together feeds from 16 sites. Learn more about this all-in-one platform today.

One challenge of responding to social posts and rankings is knowing wha’s out there. With dozens of review sites on the internet, which ones pertain to credit unions? And how can small social media teams check every site, every day?

First Community alone appears on numerous sites from Facebook, Google, Glassdoor, and Yelp to Insiderpages, Merchanctcircle, and Zillow. But until it started to intentionally track these sites, it didn’t know what people were saying.

We had actually not even heard of some of these sites, Lara says.

In some cases, reviews sites create rogue pages that contain reviews of a credit union’s individual branches. Rogue pages, specifically for Facebook, are created when a member tries to tag themselves in a location of a branch without tagging the main brand page. The site does not have to notifiy the credit union when a rogue page is created, but the page can still hurt a credit union’s brand.

Businesses don’t have any control over the pages until they claim their listings, says Deeba Izadpanah, client relationship specialist at Callahan Associates. The information could be inaccurate and a credit union won’t be able to respond to reviews. Even when a business deletes a page, they can come back.

First Community uses CUBrandMonitor from Callahan Associates to manage its online brand and improve its local online brand presence. Lara says the system was invaluable in helping First Community identify rogue sites so the credit union could correct information about all 16 of its branches and create a more positive experience for members.

The credit union also monitors its keyword ranking and measures how it ranks against peers across various key search terms. First Community focuses on organic rankings rather than paid search terms used for online advertising.

We see how we rank on Google search for auto loans, mortgages, or home loans on a local as well as a national level, Lara says.

Improving keyword ranking doesn’t happen overnight, but Izadpanah suggests a few tips to start.

Respond to reviews using your keywords in your response as you find appropriate, she says. Be active on social media, and keep your listings claimed and cleaned.

Wha’s Next?

Looking ahead, First Community expects to see more questions about credit union operations and services that require timely responses on social media. Lara says he expects to create more landing pages that allow members to drill down into information from social media posts. He also expects to spend more money on sponsored ad content.

I’s an ever-changing platform, so i’s something we need to stay on top of, Magee says. I see us keeping up with the trends wha’s trending now and what used to work but now isn’t. That takes a strategic approach, looking at the posts with high engagement and looking for new ways to engage.


April 22, 2019

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