Numerica Credit Union ($1.2B, Spokane, WA) is helping people find its services with a branded, educational Facebook application.
With more than 500 million active users on Facebook, which translates to about 1 in 13 people on the planet, credit unions have been penetrating the social media space through business pages for several years. Now, credit unions like Numerica are taking advantage of the influx of applications available.
About 20 million applications are installed each day on Facebook. In March, Numerica installed a Facebook widget that goes a step further than promotion. The credit union is piloting a lead-generation loan calculator called Calcubot on Facebook with an application that provides an educational financial service.
Numerica is one of the first financial institutions to implement Calcubot, which is created by California technology startup Shastic. The startup creates professional, social media tools to market financial institutions.
“We are excited to be able to provide a Facebook application that is educational and useful, not just promotional,” says Kelli Hawkins, communications manager at Numerica. “However, Numerica does gain promotional value with the link back to our Home Loan Center. It gives Facebook a real marketing value.”
Out of the 1,800 page “likes” the credit union has on Facebook, 207 people have used the mortgage calculator application.
“Up until now we used Facebook only to communicate with our members, just like another publication,” Hawkins says. “This is an indirect way of marketing our mortgage.”
Calcubot is a financial tool that estimates a user’s mortgage payment. The user inserts their loan amount, home value, term, and interest rate into the calculator. The user can also include property tax and insurance. Calcubot then calculates the payment, which the user can save to make comparisons later.
After Numerica’s official announcement of the product last week, Shastic is also creating a way for users to solicit Facebook feedback from their friends, family, and advisors and get alerts on low interest rate loans and savings opportunities.
“Our members are visiting our Facebook page to find out more information about Numerica, what we’re doing in the community, and to learn about finances,” Hawkins says.
The mortgage calculator, as well as other financial tools, reside on Numerica’s website as well. But Hawkins says Facebook users “want these benefits easily accessible on Facebook, too. ... I see a trend of more apps being developed that perform a useful function.”
Calcubot is a branded product that end users will be able to grab from Numerica’s page and install on their own pages.
“It turns their followers into a nationwide sales force,” says Joseariel Ortigoza, CEO of Shastic.
If Numerica moves forward with officially adopting the application, which requires a $99 monthly fee, it will be able to track user information such as site visits and contact information from saved loan calculations. And members can get alerts via email or text about potential savings with the credit union.
The widget is easy to use and also easy to install and configure. Hawkins says both the credit union’s IT and marketing department did minimal setup, and Shastic provides free support and upgrades.
Four credit unions, including Numerica, are using Calcubot and Shastic plans to create a complete suite of educational and discovery financial tools for credit unions. Hawkins believes the future of financial services on social networking sites will continue to change, financial education applications will be crucial services.