Tapping into the millennial market: Why credit unions need authentic messengers

Communications expert Kaitlin Cleary told the World Credit Union Conference how the sector can build trust among the new generation

The vital task of finding members in the millennial generation was discussed at this year’s World Credit Union Conference in Vienna, with a breakout session looking at social media and brand messengers.

Kaitlin Cleary, ‎owner and co-founder at Team 624 Communications, is a millennial herself, and said credit unions could engage her generation by building trust.

Young people plan everything on social media – but being on social media is not a strategy in itself, she said. According to a recent study by The McCarthy Group, around 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertisers.

“Social media has created this level of transparency that millennials are used to. They can instantly verify what someone says so they are a sceptical generation,” she said. “Young people really want this, an authentic interaction with businesses they choose to do business with.”

Furthermore, a 2016 FICO survey revealed that 45% of millennials are open to the idea of switching banks.

Who do they trust? a study by the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report showed that nine out of ten consumers worldwide say recommendations from friends and family members are the most trusted source of advertising.

Furthermore, a 2015 Deloitte report from revealed that 47% of millennials say their purchase decisions on products and services are influenced by social media.

Facebook uses an algorithm to decide what users should see when they go to Facebook. This means that posts from friends and family members get priority over posts from companies. Those enterprises choosing to pay Facebook for advertising would also benefit from having their posts displayed more often.

The idea of influencer marketing is based on having an influencer person speak on an organisation’s behalf. According to Linqia’s The State of Influencer Marketing Survey, 94% of marketers found influencer marketing to be effective.

Related: How credit unions are working together to face new challenges

Ms Cleary said there were different types of messengers: brand influencers, brand ambassadors, fans and brand advocates.

The marketing world is witnessing a shift from influencers to micro messengers, which bring a certain level of expertise to the topics they are talking about. Brand influencers are paid to do business on a campaign basis.

Another trend is to turn to brand ambassadors, who have a long-term – and typically paid – relationship with companies they work with.

The conference looked at preparing credit unions for the digital generation

Fans are simply loyal customers who can work directly with the brand for long-term success of the business, becoming brand advocates.

“While 18% of millennials trust brand influencers, 92% trust brand advocates,” said Ms Cleary.

She gave the example of a project led by the American Heritage Credit Union, which sent a survey to members aged 18-34 asking how likely they were to recommend the credit union. Over 70% said they would be more than happy to do it. Asked whether they would share or retweet, around 30% said they would.

Ms Cleary’s steps to creating a brand advocacy programme are:

  1. Create a brand advocate landing page with information on how to get involved and why it would benefit members to do it
  2. Send follow-up emails to survey respondents containing a link to the page, which should also be promoted on social media through paid ads
  3. Email directly those interested in taking part
  4. Narrow it to candidates with mid-sized social reach with 500 to 1,000 followers and friends
  5. Determine incentives
  6. Create a schedule of tasks for your brand advocates.

Ms Cleary it was also crucial to find internal brand advocates among employees – a process which involves working with the HR team. Incentives for engagement can include contests with small prizes for top social media advocates.

The success of such campaigns can be measured by the number of events hosted and their attendance levels;, survey results; and social media shares and clicks driven by advocates.

“The questions to ask yourselves are: who do young people in your area trust? What can you do to connect with them and incentivise them to be messengers to your credit union?” added Ms Cleary.

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