BRAUNFELS, Texas (10/8/09)--One credit union service organization (CUSO) has hit on a way to drive the financial literacy message of credit unions home to Generation Y--through high school concerts from live musicians that incorporate the use of social networking to spread the news about the events and financial literacy. Eloquent Online is a "shadow CUSO" organized in 2006 by Chetco FCU, a $358.6 million asset credit union based in Harbor, Ore. It was intended to research and help the credit union understand the world of social networking as a marketing medium in the banking marketplace. The CUSO discovered right away that social networking was the new communications medium for Gen Y and the Millennials--the under 30 set-- and the credit union was determined to share what it found. It is helping credit unions to spread the word of financial literacy through music in terms of Concerts for Financial Literacy, YouTube videos, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, and other communications channels popular with the iPod set. According to Jason Dias, president of Eloquent Online and vice president of marketing at Chetco, this is what reaches the younger set. "They don't have a lot of attention span, and you're not reaching them with a spoken presentation or a Power Point presentation. They're too busy listening to their iPods and texting. So we went with where the target goes--to the music." Several credit unions are following the research. Americhoice FCU in Mechanicsburg, Pa., used a live concert sponsored by its high school branch that attracted 900 Gen Yers. Kids are the ambassadors at the events. The events are on YouTube, and they tweet and use Facebook to spread the word. "A 15 or 16-year old wearing an I-pod won't see a television commercial or read a newspaper or hear a radio ad," Dias told News Now. The Association of Vermont Credit Unions just got a grant to improve financial literacy among Vermont's high school student population using Concerts for Financial Literacy from Eloquent Online (News Now Oct. 5). The CUSO uses no print media. It reaches the young set solely with social media and music. At the concerts, which are often sponsored by the school's student-run credit union, "the kids become the ambassadors for financial literacy. "Gen Y is an ownership generation. They like to own things. You can approach them with the message, 'Hey, you can own your credit union,'" Dias said. The demographic is also thrifty. "You can reach them with the message that they spent on average $1,100 on songs they downloaded in 2008--think of the money they could have saved. That's how you reach them." Think of marketing to this demographic in terms of a large graph, Dias said. "At one end is the word 'lame' and the other end 'standing ovation.' Then you have to pick where your credit union is on that graph. Are you lame? Or are you a standing ovation? Most credit unions are on the lame side. They have a dichotomy of generations, and many have older, outdated boards," Dias said. He noted that Chetco's first Concert for Financial Literacy took place in May 2008 at a high school. "Over 500 young people heard a financial literacy message delivered not from a binder, but from a thumping, rocking concert. In the course of 80 minutes, the crowd grew as students texted and called their parents to come see what was happening at their school. This was not youth marketing. It was youth immersion. The teachers and parents overwhelmed the credit union with calls of thanks and sent letters to the editor of local newspapers," Dias said. For more information, use the resource links.