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The Value of Authenticity in Your Credit Union's Social Media Strategy

Posted by ryanruud on Jan 29, 2014 10:20:00 AM

78,000 retweets in the first 12 hours of your tweet. How would you like stats like that for your social marketing program?  Not bad, eh? That’s about the total of retweets Arby’s gained from their tweet with the hashtag #Grammys on Sunday (January 26, 2014)

A split moment tweet calling out the similarities between Arby’s logo and Pharrell’s hat had nothing to do with selling roast beef but it had everything to do with showing the authenticity of the Arby’s brand. A real person behind the digital brand put Arby’s in the middle of conversations its consumers were having about a topic important to them.

Whether you’re Arby’s capturing the Grammys stage or Oreo capturing the attention of the 2013 Superbowl with their “You can Dunk in the Dark” tweet after a blackout shut the game down the lesson stays the same and it doesn’t matter how big your organization.  In online and social marketing, authenticity is your currency.

The Authenticity Imperative

For credit unions attempting to capture the attention of new members and compete with regional and national banks, online marketing and social media provides a unique medium to level the playing field.  Yet many still struggle. What’s the lesson to learn from consumer brands like Arby’s and Oreo? Be authentic.

In a post on the Holmes Report,  Honeywell’s Chief Communications Officer goes so far as to give the importance of authenticity in today’s online, social and mobile world a name.

“Call it the “authenticity imperative”: the expectation that organizations and individuals perform in a matter consistent with who they claim to be or say they are. Big data and seamless speedy search makes misalignment all the easier to spot. Know who you are, embrace it or change it as you choose, and take comfort that integrity is a powerful ally.”  Tom Buckmaster, chief communications officer, Honeywell.

This imperative extends to every communication a brand embarks on online. Somewhere along the way, marketers forgot who they are before they step in the office. But thanks to changes from online platforms like Google & Facebook in 2013, forgetting these important element will spell disaster for online campaigns.

Know thy consumer, know thyself.

Before we are marketers, we are all consumers. And we are all moved to act, or not moved to act. We have questions, we seek answers, we are moved by emotions and we are innately humans, by nature we are social creatures.

So when did we lose sight of these innate things, and trade them for marketing speak? When did we trade quality and insanely great experiences and community in lieu of quick results?


Somewhere in the past decade, online marketing repeated the same tactics of old marketing communications. “YOU THERE! BUY THIS!” and ignored the communication trends of social networking  where consumers were talking to each other before making purchases or the quiet changes being made to search results that were favoring quality content over quantity of content.  Last year both Facebook and Google changed their algorithms to favor good online content that appeals to consumer questions. Not crap that crams sales down their throats. No more keyword overload. No more "offer offer offer ACT FAST!"


After all the online marketers panic attacks subsided post announcements what was left?  A realization that, we’re going to be okay. Because what the changes really did was slap us upside the face and say hey! Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Know your consumer, because your consumer is you.

The opportunity awaits.

I hear the term, financial education thrown around a lot from partners, prospects and associations. But what does that mean to us as an industry? What does that mean to consumers? Ultimately, it’s the nexus of the great opportunity that lies ahead for credit unions.

In order for credit unions to capitalize on the enormous opportunity that authenticity in online marketing can afford, putting the in-house knowledge front and center is key. Don’t just focus on pushing your products. Searches for topics related to what brands sell exceed searches for what brands actually sell 10,000:1 creating an enormous pool of conversation taking place. Stepping back to the overarching topic of finance or money unlocks a wealth of things to talk about.

bank and credit union marketing swot analysis

Asking yourself what else motivates your members and your communities? What else motivates you? Those are the conversations your team should be a part of. Just like Arby’s, Just like Oreo. IN both situations someone on their respective marketing teams was watching the event, in both situations a member of the marketing team was wearing both hats: consumer & marketer. In both cases authenticity won out.

Will you score big with a tweet and get 78,000 retweets? Probably not, but the traffic and leads you get from these authentic conversations are far more valuable than from your traditional tactics.


Topics: Content Marketing, Social Media, Strategy & Planning

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