How To Put A Positive Spin On Negative Online Reviews

Innovations FCU responds to 100% of online reviews within one minute on average. Sometimes that’s a ‘like.’ Other times, it’s a reply from the CEO.


Top-Level Takeaways

  • Innovations FCU uses Facebook to monitor its standing in its competitive market.
  • The credit union responds to 100% of online comments within one minute on average.

As of April 2018, Facebook counts more than 2.2 billion monthly active users, cementing its status as the largest social media platform. But there’s more to Facebook than social connection: it’s become a hub of commerce.


Innovations FCU
Data as of 06.30.18

HQ: Panama City, FL
ASSETS: $198.9M
MEMBERS: 19,794
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 14.8%
ROA: 0.52%

In 2015, Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases, the most of any social platform.

“Social media has changed the way we do business,” says David Southall, CEO of Innovations Federal Credit Union ($198.9M, Panama City, FL). “We have to be part of it.”

Innovations relies on social media to monitor its place within its competitive northwest Florida market. A four-person team manages the cooperative’s Facebook account, which has more than 2,400 followers and serves as a reliable point of contact for members and credit union leaders alike.

In this Q&A, Southall joins senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Karen Hurst, for a discussion about Facebook, attracting followers, responding to reviews, and more.

Why is social media valuable to Innovations? Who oversees social media?

David Southall: Social media is a necessity — it’s one of the ways we communicate, find information, and buy products. I buy a lot of products on social, especially Instagram. It’s easy, convenient, and quick. And whereas we do still have people who communicate with us the traditional way, we get a lot of questions, comments, compliments, and complaints through social media.

Karen Hurst: We have four administrators — David, me, and our marketing and IT directors.

With a four-person team, how do you keep up with the comments posted on Facebook and other platforms?

KH: We use CUBrandMonitor to help us manage all of the reviews and comments posted through Facebook and Instagram. We also use the Facebook Pages App to assist with instant responses and to monitor questions or comments after credit union hours and on weekends.

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Why did you choose CUBrandMonitor? How do you use it to make your marketing activities more efficient?

KH: We felt it would be another tool in our arsenal to manage our social media presence. It's nice to have all of our social media consolidated into one platform [updating] in real-time. We foresee it helping us track our social media presence with less manpower.

Facebook is your primary social media channel. Why?

KH: It’s a broader channel where we can have a larger presence. Our communication is more in-depth because our messages aren’t limited to a number of characters or a single photo. We do have some sponsored posts, but we mainly focus on the fun, publicity-type posts so people will want to come to our site.

DS: A lot of businesses and other financial institutions use it for posting an announcement like, ‘We’re closed today.’ We like to share things that are happening at the credit union, like if we’re opening a branch, having a celebration, or holding a team meeting.

Facebook also provides back-end reporting we use in analysis. We can see who visits our site, from where, for how long, what they do, and who they are.

How do you use your page to engage people?

DS: I pay attention to our number of likes compared to nearby large credit unions. We’re trying to get our likes to surpass one credit union specifically, and we’re close.

We ran an internal campaign six months ago to try and get more likes for our page. We challenged our employees on Facebook to invite friends and family to follow us. We made it a competition, and our team members jumped into it. Our likes increased exponentially within just a few days.

KH: We try to keep content fresh. We don’t want to be one of those sites that hasn’t posted anything in months or has comments we haven’t responded to. Our response time is one minute on average; our response rate is 100%.

We like to respond to everyone who posts, even if we just ‘like’ it. If we get complaints, usually there is some confusion. Sometimes the person is truly not happy with us, and David will give them a call to see if there is something we can do to make things better. We feel that’s important.

Facebook At Florida Credit Unions

© Callahan & Associates |
Credit Union Assets Members Facebook Followers Followers As
A Percentage
Of Total Members
Facebook Rating: 1-5
Suncoast $9,175,764,313 780,842 100,842 13% N/A
VyStar $7,703,250,028 616,454 65,807 11% 4.2/5
Space Coast $4,207,540,047 406,233 6,606 2% N/A
MidFlorida $3,245,003,656 300,074 13,335 4% N/A
Grow Financial $2,509,875,699 198,299 43,109 22% 2.9/5
Fairwinds $2,297,664,693 186,350 19,502 10% 4.1/5
GTE Financial $2,028,562,080 249,945 42,945 17% N/A
Elgin $1,949,505,141 118,585 1,308 1% N/A
CFE $1,848,593,640 157,776 20,215 13% 4.1/5
Campus USA $1,769,755,200 109,388 10,982 10% 4.3/5
Innovations $198,865,905 19,764 2,406 12% 4.4/5

Source: Callahan & Associates, Facebook

A follower on Facebook does not also have to be member of the credit union. Innovations counts approximately 12% of its membership as Facebook followers, a higher percentage than at some of the largest credit unions in Florida.

How often do you reach out to people who have left reviews on Facebook?

DS: Maybe once per week on average, but it varies. We don’t hear much, and then there will be a few days where there is a lot of communication.

I get notifications on my phone when someone leaves a comment or has a question, so I’m often the one who replies, helps, or asks for a number. All our social media administrators respond to reviews because it’s important to us that we answer concerns as quickly as we can.

Where else are you going to get a message from the president of an organization if you have a question or a problem?

How do you decide which reviewers to call?

DS: I read everything that’s written about us. If it’s something legitimate where a relationship needs to be salvaged, I’ll get involved. If someone is mad about something else and taking it out on us, I probably won’t.

How do members react when you call?

DS: Some people are surprised that it’s me responding and not a branch manager or supervisor, but I think it makes a difference and hopefully improves the relationship.

We work for our members. We want to make sure they are happy and taken care of. That extra step makes a difference for that one person, who will then share their experience with friends and family.

All our social media administrators respond to reviews because it’s important to us that we answer concerns as quickly as we can.

David Southall, CEO, Innovations FCU

What’s valuable about personal communication like this?

DS: It keeps me real, not hidden away in an ivory tower. I want to be reachable. Doing this keeps me accessible to our community.

Panama City is relatively small. We’re a beach resort town, and we’re a community-based credit union. We get to know our members. When you’re a billion-dollar shop, it’s almost impossible to communicate with everyone who wants to talk to you. We’re $200 million. That’s the right size to where it’s still manageable and it works for us.

KH: It’s part of our culture. We’re growing, we’re doing well, but we want to make sure we keep that personal touch across every channel, not just Facebook. Panama City is still small enough that people talk. And when you have a good, positive reputation, people will talk about that.




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