Social media describes the online tools that people use to share opinions, experiences and perspectives with each other. Prominent examples include Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Foresquare, etc. What's the best way for credit unions to get started in social media marketing? First you need to decide what you want to accomplish (goals and plan), then you need to decide which social media technologies to use. My recommendation is to start with Facebook.
Here are some basics to get you started on Facebook.
Determine goals and plan for your social media marketing
You should start with a plan that answers these basic questions: what do you want to say (topics), how do you want to say it (tone/media) and how often (frequency). Assign a person to be the voice of the business. This can be a marketing person to begin with, but once your program is in full swing, you might consider hiring a social media manager. Make a list of potential topics for your page: new products, new hires, in-branch events, promotions, market news, community events, business networking events, financial tips, educational videos, etc. These are some items that at least can be calendared in advance. Balance 70/30 engagement and goodwill posts to sales messages.
TIP: look for content that you've already published that you can repurpose.
Set up a Facebook business page
From the home page of Facebook there is an option to "Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business." From there you can create a business page for your credit union. You can make the page non-visible until you have completed the page to your desire.
Create a custom Facebook "profile picture"
These are custom designed banners that give your business page more brand personality. If you have an in-house graphic designer simply have them make the image size 180x540 pixels. If not, here is one company that makes profile banners: Image One.
Complete the information part of profile
It is important to complete all of the profile questions so visitors can learn more about your credit union when they visit your page. Of course your website will be linked to the page, but at a minimum you should have a good paragraph about your credit union and what makes it special.
Claim your Facebook URL
Be sure and set up a specific URL for your Facebook page so it is easy for people to find the page. Typically the URL for your page would be www.facebook.com/ and then the name of your credit union or your website domain name.
Start connecting with local businesses, i.e. "like" them
Once your page is set up, you can start to like other local businesses. This will get your page further exposure to the people who are connected to those local businesses. They may or may not be members and regardless, they are positive brand impressions for your credit union.
You can start with casual group shots of different departments within your credit union, for example. This starts to personalize the experience that members and potential members will have with your page.
Post upcoming events
Events can be highlighted within your Facebook page, and once you have a fan base, these events will be broadcast to those fans who have liked your page.
Announce your page
Send a message announcing your Facebook page to all of your contacts asking those who are members of Facebook to "like" the page. Hold a contest and giveaway for those who like the page within a certain time period. Place your Facebook URL on all printed and electronic material, in your email footer, on business cards, etc. Place the Facebook like icon on your website.
Start posting daily
In addition to what you have calendared in your social media marketing plan, you can comment on just about anything and everything, within reason. For example, if you've had several days of rain and it stops, comment about it. If you happen to celebrate birthdays of employees, announce a birthday. Take a photo or two and post them as well. Re-post articles that your fans might be interested in, like home improvement tips, getting ready for back to school, etc. Multiple opportunities exist around holidays and other times of the year for posting tips and ideas.
Article by: Ginny Cain at Cain Communications (www.ginnycain.com)
About the author:
Ginny Cain is the owner of Cain Communications, a boutique marketing firm that offers strategic guidance combined with tactical execution to companies and people who seek a blend of traditional and highly creative ways to reach their target audiences and markets. Ginny is uniquely geared toward providing an unmatched range of 360-degree marketing and PR services in both the online and offline worlds. Ginny was the former VP of marketing for two nationally ranked residential real estate brokerages. Connect with Ginny: LinkedIn, @ginnycain or Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org.