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CMG New survey explains CUs use of social media
MIAMI (11/8/12)--New research findings from a credit union social media survey show that practice makes for improvement when it comes to employing social media in marketing strategies.

Patrick McElhenie, sales planner at  CUNA Mutual Group, provides CUNA Lending Council attendees a glimpse of social media research in the credit union space. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)

The survey was conducted with 160 members of the CUNA Lending Council and CUNA Marketing Council in August and were presented to attendees at the 2012 CUNA Lending Council Conference on Tuesday in Miami by Patrick McElhenie, sales planner at CUNA Mutual Group. The research was co-sponsored by CUNA & Affiliates and CUNA Mutual Group.

"Survey findings show credit unions using social media for more than three years are more adept at integrating it into their overall marketing strategy and are achieving better levels of member engagement," McElhenie told attendees of the 2012 CUNA Lending Council Conference.

Nearly all credit unions in the survey, 94%, are using Facebook as a form of social media marketing. Those who have been using social media for more than three years are significantly more likely to use Twitter and YouTube than those who have been using social media for less than three years.

"Advanced social media users are using Twitter, YouTube and podcasts at a much higher rate than beginners. These three social media platforms lend themselves to member engagement more than some of the others," said McElhenie.

Most credit unions surveyed by CUNA Mutual Group are primarily using social media to educate, build awareness and promote events. "Social media can supplement traditional marketing and help credit unions educate and promote, but its real strength is in the ability to engage members," said McElhenie.

The top barriers to using social media identified by credit unions in the survey were measuring return on investment (ROI) and a lack of time and resources to implement social media plans, which are similar across all industries and not unique to credit unions.

Currently, credit unions are using simple ROI metrics with 75% tracking the number of Facebook fans, 59% measuring the number of mentions or comments and 55% tracking the number of posts on Facebook. "The challenge is that while these are quantifiable metrics, they do not measure member engagement, changes in awareness, or increases in sales," McElhenie said.

Most credit unions responding to the survey have plans to develop or enhance their social media strategies for 2013. In addition to the 87% who will continue to use Facebook, credit union lending and marketing professionals also indicated their planned use of other social media platforms:

  • Mobile applications: 74%
  • Twitter: 66%
  • YouTube: 61%
  • Social media analytics: 48%;
  • LinkedIn: 39%;
  • Tumblr: 29%;
  • Google+: 24%; and
  • Pinterest: 1%.
As credit unions gain more experience with social media, their objectives expand beyond using it simply as a one-way marketing and communications tool. Beginners focus on education, awareness and promotion while more advanced users also focus on attracting new members, providing customer service, supporting sales and providing consumer reviews, McElhenie said.
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