Twitter: A One Way Street for Credit Unions

By David S. Brown, Attorney

Social Media is creating quite the buzz these days.  Haven’t you noticed everyone talking about it?  Between Facebook’s IPO, LinkedIn’s recent security breach (I changed my password, did you?) and the never ending photos of the Kardashian sisters on Twitter, there have been thousands of articles written about social media in the last month alone.   That’s why I was excited to pitch in when I was asked to research what credit union (“CU”) members were saying about their CUs on Twitter.

Here’s what I did.  Over the last few weeks, I conducted numerous Twitter searches for the term “credit union”.  Between May 27, 2012 and June 5, 2012, there were approximately 130 tweets which included my search term.  I then studied the tweets, created a spreadsheet and analyzed the results in hopes that I could answer the age old question: “What do CU members want?”  The results were a bit deflating.  As it turns out, CU members don’t tweet about their CUs.  In fact, more than 90% of all the tweets I analyzed were authored by industry professionals, marketing firms, industry journals or publications or third party news establishments.  On top of that, the few tweets that did appear to be written by CU members, or potential CU members, were less than enlightening.

For instance, one CU member tweeted, “some little kid just walked into the credit union wearing a snorkel”.  Another tweet read, “I am not making this up: My credit union in San Francisco now offers ‘bicycle loans’”.  Only three tweets really caught my attention, because they were more on point with the goal of my study.  The first read, “credit unions are no match for payday loans”.  The second exclaimed, “credit unions care about your story and want to help you build credit, banks just care about credit score”.  And the third indicated “credit unions have better rates than banks”.

Other than these three tweets, there wasn’t much explanation as to what CU members are looking for.  A few Twitter users urged their followers to switch to CUs as a way to “get back at Big Banks”, but I wasn’t able to determine whether these users were CU members, or just activists ranting against banks.  Another user simply tweeted, “I love credit unions!”  In sum, I was unable to determine what CU members want as a whole by analyzing Twitter, because Twitter users simply don’t seem to be saying much about their CUs.

What I did find was a plethora of information about CUs that was written by industry professionals, marketing firms, news agencies, financial planners and CUs themselves.  In fact, I now think Twitter is a great way for CUs to connect with and educate their members.  For instance, CUs can send tweets to their members when they initiate new promotions.  This informs and educates the member about the new option, but is much less evasive than some other forms of advertising.  CUs can also use Twitter to educate their members about the differences between CUs and banks.

In addition to reaching members, Twitter also appears to be a great tool for CU professionals.  The articles shared on the platform are voluminous and should help any CU professional to stay informed about CU news, trends and promotions.  It can also be used to interact and keep in touch with suppliers, co-ops, and credit union support organizations.

In conclusion, Twitter does not offer an answer to the question “what do CU members want?”  It does, however, offer CUs the ability to market their product to members and other followers.  After all, it presents CUs with a nearly cost free way to stay in touch with those that are interested.  Just don’t be surprised or depressed if they don’t tweet back!  Twitter is also a good source of information for anyone looking to stay current on CU news and developments.

David S. Brown is an Associate in Commercial Collections, with a focus on the Commercial Banking, Commercial Business, Special Collections and Commercial/Agency Services Groups, based in the Cleveland office of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA.  He can be reached at (216) 685-1062 or dbrown@weltman.com.

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6 thoughts on “Twitter: A One Way Street for Credit Unions

  1. Something must have gone wrong with your search. When I search Twitter for “credit union” I see 150 tweets from the past 4 hours. I can’t believe there were only 130 over a 9 day period.

  2. I agree that Twitter is a great tool for credit union professionals to use (one of the best). It is also another tool credit unions can use in their communications toolbox with members. Even if members aren’t tweeting about their credit union, the credit union should be tweeting about what interests their members.

  3. At times I wonder if tweeting “I’ll give you $50 for replying to this tweet” would generate a response.

    Regardless of the way Twitter is being used by credit unions right now, it’s hard to argue that it can’t be used to learn about members/potential members. The list of trending topics, at a minimum, gives you a sense of what’s on people’s minds in your area.

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