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Measuring Social Media Success in Credit Unions

Filene researchers use an extended survey period and input from hundreds of credit unions to explore whether social media use correlates with key credit union goals like share of wallet, membership growth, and loan growth.

Executive Summary

Understanding the roiling social media landscape is just the first challenge. Showing how credit unions are adapting to it—and how they should—is much more important. This report is the culmination of more than a year of research that surveys the breadth of social media use in credit unions and includes qualitative and quantitative insights on how best to engage with members. An initial baseline survey and subsequent quarterly surveys brought together responses from 300 credit unions. Many of these credit unions were large (the median asset size of respondents hovered around $300 million), and, as planned, about a quarter of respondents didn’t use social media at all, allowing for fruitful comparisons between the two groups.

What is this research about?

Participating credit unions provided information about their budgeting priorities and their use of social media channels, along with quantitative data about their financial performance and qualitative input about whether they felt their social media pro-grams were successful. The old saw that correlation is not causation is worth noting, but nevertheless, the correlations are intriguing. 

At one level the surveys show credit union trends that mirror overall trends in the environment: more emphasis on video, less on full-scale blogs, and the continued rise in popularity of Facebook and Twitter. As more credit unions have joined in and strengthened their social media initiatives, it stands to reason that they should do so in sync with overall trends. But at the business level some interesting connections emerged. Notably, those that called their programs successful or very successful saw rises in web traffic and loan growth. But those gains did not extend in a measurable way to membership growth or to higher products per member. Social media helps, but it doesn’t help everything.

What are the credit union implications?

As the use of social media expands, credit unions will need to build their skills to launch, manage, and measure social media programs.

  • Although larger credit unions are more likely to use social media, and those with large marketing staffs are more likely to report success with their programs, small credit unions can compete. The study clearly shows that a dedicated effort including mea-sured output and relationship building can help credit unions of any size launch and maintain a fruitful program
  • Results show that there is a point of diminished returns in terms of time invested and a social media program’s impact on success. Spending between three and five hours per week managing the pro-gram is a good baseline and attainable at even small credit unions.