With 1.4 million residents, San Antonio ranks as the nation’s seventh-largest city. It’s also home to some large credit unions. Security Service Federal Credit Union ($9.1B), Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union ($6.7B), and San Antonio Credit Union ($2.8B) are all headquartered there.
It’s a competitive market, says Ashley Harris, vice president of corporate communications at Generations Federal Credit Union’s ($572.4M, San Antonio, TX). In Bexar County, of which San Antonio is the county seat, 52% of adults belong to a credit union compared to 19% in Dallas and 21% in Houston.
For Generations, the challenge isn’t in educating its community about what a credit union is, it’s in communicating why Generations is the best option for them.
“People can go anywhere,” Harris says. “We need to give them a reason to come to us.”
People can go anywhere. We need to give them a reason to come to us.
The credit union has had active Facebook and Twitter accounts since 2009. But it was in 2013, a year after the addition of a new chief marketing officer, coinciding with the hiring of a content manager that efforts were revved up. Now, Generations’ award-winning social media presence is one of its chief differentiators. In 2014, it was selected as a finalist for “Best Use of Twitter” in PR Daily’s 2014 Social Media Awards, finishing second to JC Penny.
Generations’ presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest allows it to quickly and affordably interact with members and non-members alike — as of January 5, the credit union had 8,800 Twitter followers and 8,900 likes on Facebook.
Here, the credit union identifies three lessons on how to maintain a social media presence.
No 1: Make Communications Personal
Different generations have different needs; therefore, they respond differently to credit union communications. That’s why the credit union’s content manager, Megan Dahle, focuses on her intended audience when sets up the quarterly schedule of social media posts — approximately 10-12 each day.
Overall, Generation’s social strategy is based in financial education. Its posts link to the credit union’s blog, showcase marketing campaigns, and provide general membership announcements. Dahle sets the schedule in three-month increments to “make sure we are crossing our ‘Ts’ and dotting our ‘Is’ to get our message out early and effectively,” but the credit union can still pivot in the event of a breaking news event.
Generations also weaves holiday posts and local events into its social messaging. For example, San Antonio is home to Fiesta San Antonio, a 10-day celebration in April similar to Mardi Gras, Harris says. Articles and posts specific to Fiesta and other local events generally see more engagement than other posts.
No. 2: Measure Engagement And Be Honest
Facebook and Twitter are Generations’ two largest social channels; therefore, it spends most of its time posting on these platforms, which each engage followers in different ways. According to Dahle, Facebook is well suited to longer member conversations while Twitter provides a stronger call to action.
Generations tracks engagement metrics like shares, retweets, and likes, but it also goes one step further and breaks down posts into different categories based on what type of content it was: campaign, administrative, blog-link, community-focused, and more.
“That helps us analyze if what we are doing is working or if we need to tweak it,” Dahle says. “It’s all about adapting and knowing how we’re doing.”
Dahle — who estimates that she dedicates 20% of her time to the credit union’s social media channels — has used a third-party designed dashboard to track social performance and drill down to the granular level. The credit union uses it to track likes, shares, comments, retweets, favorites, replies, direct messages, among others. Three employees, including the CMO and Digital Marketing Specialist have access to it.
“The dashboard can get minute,” Harris says. “We use it to see where we are getting the most hits and pickups. For example, tweets and posts linking to blogs or educational information have the largest reach.”
The credit union plans to continue posting with the same frequency and in the same way that resonates with members. For its millennial members, this means more content focusing on transitional life stages such as buying a car, consolidating student loan debt, or bringing home a dog.
“We want someone to connect with the post,” Harris says. “We want to make them feel that we as a financial institution understand their concerns.”
Generations also would like to increase awareness, engagement, and new memberships through its social channels. Although Harris and Dahle don’t have specific metrics for these goals, the women agree they want to achieve the goals correctly, appropriately, and honestly.
That involves tracking referrals and monitoring the number of new members with loans or checking accounts who joined the credit union because they saw a post on social media.
“We want to see the overall story of what social is doing,” Dahle says.
No. 3: Use All Staff
Generations uses social media largely to promote its community financial education efforts and to showcase similar content on its blog. To inspire those posts, it consults, in part, David Rodriguez, the credit union’s financial education manager.
CU QUICK FACTS
Data as of 09.30.15
HQ: San Antonio, TX
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 14.39%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 20.68%
Rodriguez visits eight local colleges multiple times throughout the year to hold workshops or participate in health fairs or community events with a financial education bent. When events are not outwardly about financial education, Rodriguez and his team find creative ways to tie in the topic. For example, its support of a college-sponsored fashion show included providing $20 gift cards to Goodwill so students could purchase business professional clothing for upcoming job interviews.
“It puts us out there in the community in an engaging way that we can ultimately translate onto our social media channels,” Rodriguez says. “And vice versa.”
To coincide with its 75th anniversary, last July the credit union held a random act of kindness event in which it purchased lunch and gas for people around San Antonio. Fifteen teams went out that day, and the team’s social media captain took photos and sent tweets approved by the chief marketing officer about the good deeds occurring.
The credit union repeated the strategy in November. Around Thanksgiving, teams took turkeys and hams to police and fire stations around the city to thank them for their work on the holiday. Both events were a great way to engage employees, Harris says, as well as an effective way to show social media followers the credit union’s community focus.
“It was a whole engagement effort,” she says. “Social is not something we take lightly around here.”