Credit union social media done right with personality and purpose

For Raoust+Partners for CU Insight. Published April 3, 2015.

By Karen Haywood Queen

‘Credit Unions need to get on social media, especially YouTube, because that’s where the action is.’ Great advice as far as it goes. But without a purpose, social media presence doesn’t expand a brand.

Some argue that the Facebook ship has sailed—younger people certainly have moved on to other channels. If a credit union is on Facebook, the page should reflect the credit union’s unique personality not serve as a dump for generic copy that could be about any business.

Found on Facebook: “Keep your face towards the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.” Thank you Walt Whitman, but how does that promote a brand or attract new credit union members?

Raoust+Partners helps credit unions determine if their culture is a good fit for social media. If so, Raoust+Partners helps create content specifically for those channels aimed at getting results. Credit unions use social media channels effectively and smartly not by pushing product but by creating content that’s an extension of their brand story.

YouTube, which has replaced television for many younger people, can be an ideal medium for telling a credit union’s story. At least until the next big thing comes along.

Just being on YouTube isn’t enough. What works? Copy developed specifically for YouTube – not rebroadcasts of TV commercials. YouTube gives a credit union time to expand its message beyond a 10-, 15- or 30-second TV spot. Take advantage of it.

Keep in mind, though, that people tune in to YouTube to be entertained.

No one wants to watch a credit union’s annual meeting on YouTube. Correction: a spot check of three credit union annual meetings showed 14 views, 84 views and 177 views.

Not many people really want to watch Blizzard the Penguin visit a credit union either—102 views.

Sadly, not many people even want to hear how a credit union helped a college student with her overwhelming debt. In 10 months, 15 views.

If the message isn’t entertaining, they’ll tune out. They certainly won’t share it with their friends.

True to its name, Innovations Federal Credit Union in Panama City, Fla., a Raoust+Partners client, has mastered the art of telling its story on YouTube in a way that engages viewers and clearly communicates the credit union’s offbeat brand. The well-produced videos give viewers insight into Innovations’ culture.

Innovations’ videos are produced solely for YouTube—not TV commercials rebroadcast. CEO David Southall sketched out the credit union’s first YouTube video, Jingle Bells Lip Dub, on a napkin in 2009. He still has the napkin.

The video stars not actors, but rather employees who are clearly engaged and having fun. The mimosas may have helped.

“Around here, for local Christmas commercials all the employees get together, wave at the camera and say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Southall says. “It’s kind of boring and overdone. We decided we didn’t want to do that.”

Raoust+Partners helped take the concept from a napkin to a professional production.

“They have some creative minds at Raoust,” Southall says “They made it look professional—rather than something we did homemade. If something is interesting and eye-catching, you want to share it with your friends and family.”

So far, 17,383 people have enjoyed the catchy beat and fun vibe of that first video. That engagement, that culture can’t be faked. If that unique exuberance isn’t in a credit union’s DNA, best to avoid the attempt. For Innovations, it worked because the video showcased the credit union’s personality.

“That first video said to our community ‘Hey we’re different,’” says Southall, who appears in the videos. “We don’t want to be traditional in anything. Our lobby design is different. The way we hire employees is different. The way we train employees is different.”

The Financial Brand ranked Innovations 21 out of the top 100 credit unions on YouTube. More important, as Innovations continued to make more videos, friends and family of employees, credit union members and then others in the community asked to participate. You can’t put a price on that kind of engagement and awareness.

A flash mob to open a new branch generated more than 5,000 views. A video entitled Bad Bank Romance has captured 4,219 views.

YouTube isn’t the best place to constantly push products but those who know what they’re doing—read Innovations–can bend the rule. Innovations’ 30-second video about an Obstacle-Free Auto Loans collected 53,151 views.

The goal of these videos is to reach younger members and potential members. While the average age of credit union members nationwide is about 48, Innovations’ average age is 40 or 41.

“Those are the members we want to attract—the kind of members who like the social media piece,” Southall says. “Our older board members—they probably haven’t seen them. Maybe their children or grandchildren saw them.”

Saw them and decided Granddad’s credit union wasn’t so fuddy duddy after all.

The (off) beat goes on.