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Credit Unions need Twitter strategies

Credit unions can use Twitter to gain members.

One way credit unions can engage with consumers and possibly increase their membership is to create a Twitter account. However, choosing a name and profile picture isn't enough. Credit unions need a Twitter strategy and an employee who will be dedicated to the profile to maximize its potential.

Without a strategy and dedicated employee, credit unions may end up abandoning their feed. The Financial Brand found about two years ago, one in five credit unions had stopped using their account.

"Many credit unions rushed to social media, but the strategy on how to leverage the medium was never thought out," said Jan Simon, executive creative director of Simon and Associates Advertising in Los Angeles. "Everybody has a huge interest in adding online/digital components and social media to their existing marketing campaign goals. The biggest hurdles we are seeing are the lack of understanding, which leads, therefore, to a lack of planning and the lack of budgeting to effectively venture into that space."

Credit unions don't have to abandon any of their social media accounts. They only need to develop a game plan. With a few key ideas, organizations can turn a boring and useless account into a member-generating profile:

Provide value
One of the main reasons behind having a Twitter account for any credit union is to provide useful information to its audience. As financial institutions with the purpose of helping people, credit unions can link to or post original content regarding new financial and tax regulations, budgeting advice, financial products they offer and much more. Through a Twitter feed, credit unions can become an important news source for people interested in the financial industry.

Use hashtags
This small symbol is all over Twitter for a reason: It spreads information like wildfire. To reach a broader audience, credit unions should strategically use hashtags. Also, to use them correctly, credit unions should make the hashtag easy to read by capitalizing the first letter of each word in the tweet such as "#ILoveMyCreditUnion," the Missouri Credit Union Association recommended. 

Get involved
Twitter has become the place for social media movements to spread - just take a look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Credit unions should pay attention to the current fads and get involved with good-natured movements. A common movement credit unions are joining in the selfie craze, according to the Financial Brand. Credit unions are asking their audience to submit themed selfies to win a contest. It's a simple marketing strategy that can greatly increase the credit unions' followings.

Consider promotional posts
In 2013, Twitter restricted the promotion posts that could be used by financial institutions, including credit unions. However, this year it appears it's pulled back on the harshness of the rule, according to Credit Union Journal.

Whether or not credit unions will be able to use promotion posts to advertise their financial products is unknown, but it's an option credit unions shouldn't ignore. They may just have to wait and see. If credit unions are interested, they can go through an approval process with Twitter to determine if a promotional post will be allowed.

Share pictures
Twitter is as great a place to post pictures as it is to post words. Tweeting photos along with a hashtag is another strategy to broaden a credit union's following because tweets with pictures are more likely to be retweeted, MCUA stated. Credit unions can link to funny photos, comics, pictures of their employees and members - with permission - and more. Pictures can increase engagement on the feed and help keep the site from getting boring.