Using Social Media to Attract Gen Y
The newest industry trend aimed at targeting Gen Y is creating a credit union-affiliated blog. Is this method effective? At this point, it is difficult tell, since even the oldest credit union blogs have been around for less than a year and most are still in their infancy.
Perhaps the most elaborate Gen Y blogging initiative in the industry is the independently branded Young and Free campaign from Commonwealth Credit Union in Alberta, Canada. The campaign was launched last October and an online video competition was held to allow the public to choose a spokesperson for "Young and Free". The credit union received submissions from 11 applicants, narrowed the field down to 3 individuals, and then allowed the public to vote on their favorite 'voice' for the Young and Free Campaign. Their elected spokesperson, Larissa (age 19), is an employee of the credit union but controls the site content herself. She has completely infused the campaign with her unique personality and reaches a young audience through the website, television appearances, and traveling out in the field.
Results for the Credit Union: Commonwealth, working with a PR firm, managed to garner media attention and create large amounts of publicity around the program. Commonwealth set a goal of increasing their 17-25 year old membership by 10% over the course of the year, and they nearly met this goal within 6 months of launching the program. By the end of March 2008, over 400 new Gen Y accounts generated over $2 million in deposits.
Don't Rush into the Blogosphere Yet!
The "Young and Free" campaign required a substantial allocation of resources and resulted from Commonwealth's firm strategic commitment to reach out to younger members. This is an extensive program, supported a young spokesperson employee whose primary responsibility is to consistently generate content for the site. She also receives support from a team of several other individuals, and the program is promoted by an outside PR firm.
Commonwealth has made a dedicated effort to reach younger members through the Young and Free program. According to Kim Crockett, Product Development Manager at Commonwealth Credit Union, "Youth are our future, if we don't have them paying attention to us or coming in the door, we will be obsolete in short order." Their efforts are paying off for them, but a program of this magnitude is beyond the reach of many credit unions. A more basic blog is unlikely to garner the attention and results that the Young and Free program has. For many credit unions in the industry, it might be better to wait until the long-term results of blogging initiatives can be identified before creating blogs of their own.