Amy McGraw, marketing director at Public Service Credit Union ($119.6M, Romulus, MI) had been on Twitter for almost a year. She was tweeting under a personal account and learning how to use the site. She didn’t want to be hasty.
“Learning the ins and outs of how to use Twitter and the etiquette of using it properly was important before bringing my brand to it,” McGraw says.
After she felt comfortable, she decided to bring the idea of using the social media site for business purposes to PSCU executives.
Once she got the go-ahead, she launched the account (follow her @PSCU_Amy) and started the task of gaining followers. One method she employed was starting a contest on Twitter. She used the strategy to generate interest and also to test the effectiveness of integrating social media such as the PSCU blog and the credit union’s Facebook account.
“To see how well this could work, I held a ‘Tweet the Love’ contest,” McGraw says. “It was simple. Over the course of a few days, I asked members to tweet anything about PSCU that they liked as long as they included #MyPSCU in the tweet. Then, it would count in the contest.”
The contest generated a huge response. “‘Tweet the Love’ was a big hit,” McGraw says. “Bigger than I ever thought it was going to be.”
The numbers back up her feelings. Over the 10 days of the contest, there were 130 tweets related to it. McGraw doesn’t know exactly how many re-tweets there were but is confident there was a considerable amount. Her number of followers skyrocketed, too; she reports going from approximately 100 to nearly 300. Most of the newcomers were members of the credit union.
In addition to promoting items on Twitter (and Facebook), McGraw also lets members know that connecting with her via the two social media channels will give them access to exclusive promotions. She uses social media not only to enhance public relations but also to promote the public relations vehicles. Sharp move.
Despite the value, contests on Twitter are not without drawbacks.
“The only downside of a contest is that you get followers who sign up for Twitter to be a part of the contest but then never use it again,” McGraw says.
There are also potential pitfalls if the proper research isn’t taken. Don’t just dive into Twitter without due diligence and trial runs.
“If you jump onto Twitter and just hold a contest before you know what you’re doing, you could do yourself and your brand more harm than good,” McGraw says. She encourages prospective users to tweet everyday (multiple times per day), and reminds users that it is a conversational platform, so always be forthcoming and transparent.
The tweets and followers generated by the contest are great, but they’re not everything for McGraw. Relationships are the true indicator of success.
“A real measure is when I get a tweet from a member saying they are going to bring their mom, friend, sister, or brother in to open an account or to be part of a promo they saw from one of my tweets,” McGraw says.
The world of communication might be changing, but the fundamentals of credit unions aren’t going anywhere. People, whether they’re tweeting or not, are king (and queen).