Social media has become an exceedingly effective weapon in any modern company’s arsenal. In recent years, it has been a great tool to help credit unions reach their members. Social media provides a different dimension of value to the member, beyond hard selling and promotions. Many that are new to the social media scene ask themselves, should credit unions be present on all social media channels to reach all of their members?

If you’re going to dive head-first into social media, you need to understand exactly what you are getting into. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your time attempting to communicate with an audience who doesn’t care, or worse; an audience who isn’t even seeing your posts.

First, let’s define social media. For the uninitiated, social media is made up of websites and applications through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content, like photos and videos. The business world quickly jumped on the social media bandwagon, immediately taking advantage of its potential. Social media marketing is now one of the largest growing industries in the world.

There are many different social media platforms that you may have heard of over the years. Some come and go, and some fluctuate in popularity. Over the last decade, the social media world has been dominated by five platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat.

Each platform has a different purpose, a different way of sharing and thus, a different base of user.

Facebook offers pages for businesses, musicians, public figures and the like. It’s a place to post links, blog posts, promotions, funny images and generally anything you think your audience would connect with that is relevant to your goals. You can expand your reach and promote your posts to even more specific audiences through Facebook’s intricate advertising program. Facebook’s massive accumulation of collected data includes user’s likes, dislikes, past purchases, and internet activity to show your business’s posts to exactly the right people. In addition, the ability to have five-star customer reviews featured at the top of your company’s Facebook page is a huge benefit. 

Instagram is a simple, streamlined experience where users share photos that can be tagged with “hashtags” in order to be organized and easily searched. For example, if you search Instagram for #CreditUnion, you’ll find photos of credit unions posted by various public users. Instagram also offers businesses pages and promoted ads. Business pages can tag their products in their photos, creating clickable links through which users can directly buy. A credit union could utilize Instagram to show photos of young people reaching their goals of buying homes or cars, or to educate the public about new lending technologies. If your credit union does any community outreach, it’s great to post photos and videos of events with the locals. On Instagram, you want to show that you are fun, friendly, and in-touch.

Twitter is a platform where users post to what is considered a micro-blog; short, to-the-point messages, limited in the amount of characters that can be used. Twitter is buzzing 24 hours a day with people from every time zone. Here too, posts can be tagged with hashtags, so if you “tweet” or post with the tag #CreditUnions it will be searchable, along with any other post that contains the same tag. Twitter, like the others, offers promoted posts and paid advertising. The goal is to gain “followers” or users who choose to regularly see your posts. Some companies that have had great success with Twitter marketing in recent years are Wendy’s and JetBlue, using a mix of humor and clever promotions. The goal here is to join and start conversations. The more people in your conversation, the better.

YouTube is a video sharing platform owned by Google. It has existed since 2005 and is home to every type of creator. YouTube and other streaming services aim to replace traditional television. Youtube allows you to create a “channel” and post videos that users can “like,” “dislike,” share and comment on. User’s discover new videos and channels through YouTube’s own news feed. The users of YouTube are looking to be entertained or educated. They want the channels they follow to produce quality content on a regular schedule.

Snapchat is a much younger platform, and seeks to be the opposite of Instagram- instead of primarily sharing photos publically, Snapchat allows users to secretly send self-deleting photos to one or multiple users. With the recent addition of the “Stories” feature, users can now post images to be seen publically. It is only very recently that businesses have gotten the opportunity to pay to advertise on Snapchat. It’s still relatively new and quite limited.

Understanding now what each social media platform is and what their users are looking to experience there, you can start to formulate your approach to each. The content you make for YouTube might not translate to Instagram, but then again, maybe it might. Use this knowledge to formulate a social media strategy, and your credit union can better reach and communicate with members.

 

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