Your credit union has a Twitter account. You know what a “tweet” is. You’ve experimented with the site and even have a few followers. Now what? The trick to Twitter isn’t figuring out how to use it logistically but rather how to use it strategically. How can Twitter help you accomplish your end goals? The following tips are based on what’s happening right now on Twitter and include real examples of credit unions that have the right idea.
Pick a Target
Determine who you want to reach via Twitter. Are you looking for a specific age group or professional status? Evaluate if Twitter is the appropriate medium to reach said target. For example, data shows — perhaps counter intuitively — the number of Gen Yers who use Facebook is considerably higher than Twitter. So if you want to target Gen Y, perhaps a Twitter/Facebook dual strategy is a better approach.
For many credit unions, such as A+ Federal Credit Union ($781M, Austin, TX), the largest segment of Twitter followers is composed of other credit unions and related companies. A+ tweets under @aplusfcu and has upward of 600 followers on Twitter, although it says Facebook is more successful at reaching members. For Twitter, the credit union tweets what its members want to hear. It isn’t always about A+; the credit union also covers local charities and similar subjects. “We want our followers on Twitter and Facebook to see us as a resource,” says Kelsey Balcaitis, the Community Education Specialist for A+ FCU.
Establish a Twitter Policy
Put in writing a constitution of sorts for your credit union Twitter account. Set guidelines for conduct and expectations. Include parameters for employees that use personal accounts for CU tweets. Let the people in charge of tweeting know what the end goal is and how to reach that goal within the moral and legal boundaries of the company.
Educators Credit Union ($1.3B, Racine, WI), tweets under @myEducatorsCU. Its thorough social networking policy includes the DOs and DON’Ts for employees’ credit union tweets. Other key concepts include:
No employee may share confidential, or false, company information;
If employees mention Educators on social networking sites, they must identify their relationship with the institution;
Employees may not respond to negative posts, they must forward such tweets to the media department.
Mix Business with Pleasure
Mixing serious tweets, such as alerts about rates or seminars, with fun tweets, such as where to get a good cup of coffee, is a whimsical, and wise, plan. Tweets about funny topics are good for the spirit. Tweets about savings opportunities and loan rates are good for the wallet. Just remember, everything in moderation.
Lake Trust Credit Union ($1.6B, Lansing, MI) devotes a two-person new media department to social media, search engine optimization, blogging, A/V presentation enhancements, and media innovation and trends. The credit union tweets under @lake_trustcu and excels at mixing business with fun (as in the tweet below).
The credit union uses an identical motif for its Twitter account and homepage, which links the brand and helps tweets appear more professional. And who doesn’t want a free Garmin?
Become a Community Advocate
Many credit unions — such as Vantage Credit Union and NBTA Credit Union — tweet about events in the community and promote charity causes. This strategy not only informs followers but also reinforces the idea the credit union really does care about its members and community.
There is no Twitter mold. Don’t change your image or try to be trendy or hip. Twitter alone won’t convince people to join the credit union. Your followers almost certainly are already members, so just keep them happy. Keep doing the things that drew them to you in the first place, and if you don’t know what that is, ask them! Their RTs (re tweets) of your postings, along with their praise, is what will draw new members — not tweets about “rad summer savings” or “gnarly deals” (note: these are not actual credit union tweets).
You should, however, choose a few Twitter posters you like to follow. Observe the account. What is it about the tweets you like? What aspects can you emulate? This article is based on hundreds of tweets from credit unions. What else can you learn from your peers and fellow Teeters?
Twitter reflects society. Take 10 minutes to find negative comments about your credit union. Odds are, you won’t find any. Take another 10 to find negative tweets about credit unions. You probably will still come up empty-handed. Most negative “credit union” tweets involve frustrated bank customers exclaiming that they should have used a credit union or plan on switching to one.
What does this mean? Credit unions don’t need Twitter to provide quality service to members; your members are already pleased. Credit unions are using Twitter as one more way to go above and beyond expectations to provide great services to great people.
If your credit union has had a different Twitter experience or you want to add a tip for your peers, please do so in the comments below or email the author.