How to Win Social Media Like Navy Federal Credit Union

Posted by Mikki Ware on March 24, 2016


Credit unions have a unique position when it comes to social media. Unlike banks, which are opened to everyone, credit unions have a specific customer base. Members have to be affiliated with certain groups, such as an employer, community, or school. With the smaller, more targeted pool of members and potential members, social media can be viewed as a natural extension of strategic community engagement. The challenge is getting buy-in from credit union decision makers, as well as tracking ROI of social media participation. However, the tide seems to be turning, as research from CUNA Mutual shows that 60 percent of credit unions have been using social media for about 2 years.

In terms of goals, brand awareness and customer sentiment are the primary focus of social media for credit unions (35%). Interestingly, many credit unions are viewing their ROI from social media, not in terms of revenue, but engagement. So when asked if they are reaching their goals, 75% responded positively. Measuring engagement is a good start, but as strategies mature, credit unions will also find opportunities to grow and track social media use to product sales. Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) provides a good example of how credit unions can win both brand awareness and ROI using social media.

Navy Federal Credit Union – A Case Study

In January 2012, NFCU increased their Facebook likes from 22,000 to a staggering 770,000 one year later. Their average daily reach increased from 4,692 to 896,782. These results were so phenomenal, Facebook used them for a case study. But first, a bit of background on NFCU. They are the largest credit union in the world, with $50 billion in assets, and 4 million members of the US Department of Defense military and civilian personnel and their families. Their goal when they began using Facebook was to increase brand awareness and membership.

Their strategy was simple – honor their members. Once they reached the 4-million mark, the credit union solicited fans to create “Tell Your Story” videos and submit them to Facebook for the chance to win $4000. Simultaneously, they ran targeted Facebook ads offering specials on credit union products and services, including a $400 auto-finance rebate. The results of both campaigns include:

  • 25x higher-than-average website conversion rate
  • 36,000 new certificates totally $90 million
  • 5400 auto refinance loans totaling $96 million
  • More than 60,000 new member acquisitions during the 6-week campaign

While it is important to note that these results won’t typically happen in the early stages of a social media strategy, it is possible to pave the way to social media success by following a few key steps:

1)   Define a strategy - A report by Hope and Per Schau showed that 90% of the credit unions that participated in their study had an “itinerant, scattered, and incoherent” social media strategy. Before choosing networks or creating posts, the first step should be to choose your goals for social media, based on overall business objectives. Who is your audience? What networks is your audience using? What is your current customer sentiment? What traditional marketing initiatives can integrate with social campaigns? Who will own the accounts? What team members will post? These are all questions that should be answered when forming your strategy.

2)   Start small – According to the Schau report, Facebook is the undisputed winner when it comes to popular social networks for credit unions, followed by YouTube and LinkedIn. But there’s no need to be all in; choose one network you think is manageable, and master it. Having an inactive social media account is worse than none at all, so choose one or two accounts and focus your efforts on building those communities.

3)   Invest in content, particularly member generated content – The Schau study suggests creating opportunities for consumer generated content, such as celebrating milestones such as graduation, marriage, and birth. These occasions “can build a sense of belonging and encourage continued participation.”

4)   Track engagement metrics – These numbers show how many people are interacting with your content, and how many people your message is reaching. Metrics like Weekly Reach, Daily Reach, Retweets, Mentions, etc, will tell you not only if the message is being received, but also if it’s being shared.

5)   Use a tool – One of the chief issues CU’s cite as keeping them from social media is time and manpower. The GREMLN scheduler allows you to pre-schedule posts to multiple platforms all in one place. Statistics and reporting allow you to track engagement and ROI, plus there are compliance tools to avoid violating FFIEC and NCUA guidelines.


While social media use for CU’s is still in early stages focusing on brand awareness and engagement, the future looks solid to embrace it as a lead and sales generation tool as well. The key is a focused strategy, as shown in the NFCU example. When it comes to social media, you are only as effective as the goals you define, the amount of investment in engagement and content, and the tools that you use. Ready to see how GREMLN’s Social Guardian suite can help with your strategy? Schedule a demo

Topics: credit unions, facebook, FFIEC, financial services, gremln, ROI, social media, Social Media for Credit Unions, strategy

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