How should credit unions be using social media? We have the answers in this post - as, puns aside, this is definitely an area that credit unions should be investing in.

If there’s one thing that people like to talk about, it’s money. It buys us that cup of fairtrade coffee on the way to work, that sandwich from the sandwich lady at lunch, it pays our bills, and sometimes, just sometimes, we may have a little leftover to treat ourselves.

And now it’s never actually been easier to pay for things either. There are tons of payment gateways that make online shopping (or giving, if you are feeling particularly charitable today) easier. You can transfer money via your phone’s banking app, or just log-in online. You can send friends money via PayPal, instead of schlepping all the way to a cash point.

And, if you need financial advice, or you’ve got a problem with your debit card, or you just fancy a whinge about the fact that payday is a whole week away, you can take it to social media where you’ll get answers, if not a little sympathy.

We can see that the UK’s leading banks and payday lenders have made an investment in social media, with thousands of followers each. But what about the credit unions?

As the good guys of the money world, credit unions certainly have a lot to offer their members. But are they shouting about it on social media? And should they be?

We think so, and we can tell you why.

Education

As bad as it sounds, credit unions are still confusing entities to some. Not everyone is aware of the benefits of choosing to process your finances with a credit union. These non-profit organisations are often regarded as the saviour of low-paid families who would otherwise struggle to obtain a mortgage or bank account.

It sounds simple, if you want to increase your members, a little education always helps. Why not write a post about just what a credit union really is? Dispel some myths and share it locally, by using hashtags such as #Manchester if you’re up our way, and related hashtags such as #savings #money.

The Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) have a great video that explains just what credit unions are, by the people who use them.

Work to Make a Difference

Credit unions, more than ever before, are hitting the headlines for various reasons, and in positive ways.

It’s no secret that credit unions have the support of the Government, with Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, showing his support back in January of this year: “Credit unions can offer some of the best rates on the market for loans and dividends for your savings. But saving with a credit union can provide more than a financial return, as you will be investing in your local community.”

And Lloyds Banking Group has agreed a further £4 million plan for credit union grants, so the support, both financially and publicly, is growing.

And what about the Church of England’s recent ‘war on Wonga’ and the future launch of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU), on 1st  October? Why are you waiting for other organisations to start the fight against loan sharks? Team up and start your own campaign to raise awareness and bring your support to the attention of those who need it. Social media is your free outlet to make this happen.

Community Building

Money is a very serious matter and, for most people, banks and credit unions aren’t places people go to comfortably. There’s a common misconception of impersonal managers in pinstriped suits and name badges, refusing customers loans and mortgages.

Since the first Halifax advert, with the lovable Howard Brown, people are slowly trusting their banks and credit unions a little more. But banks are often stealing the ethos behind credit unions and using it for personal gain and profit.

And we’ve now got pensioner puppets encouraging us to take out a loan with extortionate interest rates and repayment penalties, and yet still people are borrowing!

Wonga
Villains in disguise.

While we aren’t suggesting that you consider hiring Pinocchio, or that you pick your most camera-worthy staff and gather them around for a sing-song, social media is a relatively low-cost way of showing your personality and enhancing your customer service.

Community building is something that every credit union should be doing more of, because many of the most important points in our lives from going to university, buying her that engagement ring, buying that first house, starting a business or saving for retirement all involve a relationship with your bank or credit union.

Product Research

If there’s one thing social media is good for it’s learning more about people. We’re all very quick to call-out a brand or business when we aren’t happy with the products or services and it’s a great way for us to learn what makes people tick. It may be that a lot of your followers are talking about a summer holiday, so why not share some favourite destinations and then plug a helpful savings account or loan. The trick is to bounce off your community and start a dialogue that relates to them, less me-me-me, more we-we-we.

Customer Service

Have you ever needed an answer to something, or a problem resolved, only to find yourself stuck on hold, listening to insufferable muzak? Or, worse-still, trawling through a badly-made website for the right telephone number to ring?

We’ve all been there, but social media is a great place to answer those queries in real-time. Obviously, some questions and issues may require a telephone conversation, or a meeting face-to-face, but you can easily point followers in the right direction with the right phone number to call, or let them know the opening times of their nearest branch. You could also share useful tips, from savings advice, to local shop deals and discounts. You want to be that knowledgeable friend that is good with money. This makes your customers trust you more and respect what you have to offer.

Marketing & Promotion

It may be an obvious one, but social media is perfect for a little marketing now and again. Obviously you don’t want to fill your followers’ timelines with news of your latest account or rates, but strategically placed tweets or Facebook updates could work really well to remind people of your services. For example, why not encourage people to start saving ahead for Christmas presents? Or team car loans or mortgage rates with related news stories. If you can make it fit and avoid that feeling of desperate promotion, you may find yourself with a new member by the end of the day.

Getting Creative

Maybe looking after and investing your money isn’t quite as fun as spending it, but there are plenty of ways you can be creative with social media. And that’s not just using the usual culprits like Twitter and Facebook.

Why not film your own video with members and staff, explaining how credit unions can benefit others? Or write some blog posts with a difference? Like the best local savings in your local area that week, or tips to save money.

Offer some useful, shareable content that people will appreciate. Or why not introduce gamification to the mix, to keep people engaged, with a reward at the end? Simply ask people for their best saving tip on Twitter, and the best tip will win a voucher to spend somewhere local, which ties-in nicely with community support too.

What Next?

So if you haven’t already got yourself a Facebook or Twitter account, we’d suggest you get one, and quick. Credit unions have so much to offer potential customers, so it’s about time you stopped the banks from stealing your thunder and help people to help themselves. After all, who wouldn’t want to do their finances with an organisation that offers better interest rates and gives you dividends too?

That’s something worth investing in, if you ask us.

Speaking of which, if you need our support, just email hello@reasondigital.com.

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