Facebook – Powerful Marketing Platform

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that one of the very hottest web sites is Facebook. And that’s for good reason. It may be one of the greatest marketing platforms created to date. If you are a credit union, and you hold member education events, you need to get them on Facebook. The first credit union to do this was Beehive CU in Utah, which put on a Credit Make-Over Seminar in April 2007, and created a Facebook Group for this purpose. They had a resounding success, attracting 19 people to the group.

On deck is Laura Baker (bakedlaurabean on twitter), Director of Marketing for Valley Credit Union in San Jose, CA. Her credit union is holding an event, Credit Score Enhancement Seminar, on February 21, 2008. Laura has already invited 20 people to the event, and has posted it to her profile. Chances are good that she’ll attract a good turnout since young adults and professionals, especially in her region– Silicon Valley, are the fastest growing age groups on Facebook.

It’s hard to explain why Facebook is THE place to go to promote your event if you have never used it. In order to understand better, the best way is to get on Facebook, connect with your friends, and watch your feed. You’ll see all the events your friends are going to. You’ll become aware of events that you would have never known about otherwise. If you become friends on Facebook with professionals in your field, you’ll find out about industry events that wouldn’t have known about otherwise. That’s how I found out about BarCampBank Seattle. Robbie Wright, author of Life and Times of a CU Employee, who I hadn’t yet met in-person, invited me to come a couple of days before the event. I was sorry that my schedule prevented me from getting there.

This is how and why Credit Unions need to put their events on Facebook. First of all, it’s completely free to do so. Secondly, it’s quick and easy to do it. But the best part is that once several of your members sign up for the event on Facebook, THEIR friends will see that they are going. Friends, family members, and colleagues of your members will see that your members are attending your event. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Especially with the younger generation’s natural aversion to advertising, this kind of exposure is worth ten times the equivalent traditional ad exposure. Because it’s a PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT, and in it’s own way, it’s viral exposure. The more people who go to the event, the more people see that others are going to the event. Imagine how powerfully compelling it is to see that 7 of YOUR friends are attending a seminar on the ins and outs of improving your credit score. That’s going to make you at least want to check it out and see what the big fuss is.

Because of the social nature of Facebook, one of the keys to getting good exposure to your event on Facebook is to entice gregarious people to attend your event. There are many people on Facebook with hundreds of friends. It will get more exposure for your event when these “connectors” attend, than someone with only a dozen Facebook friends.

If Laura’s event does not draw a large crowd via Facebook this time around, it’s not because it’s not the right thing to do. It would only be because she’s ahead of her time, or because she hasn’t yet cultivated a large enough Facebook following among her members yet. But holding the event, and getting the word out there is the beginning of cultivating those member relationships on Facebook.

I covered the basics of Facebook event marketing at the Lake George World 2.0 workshop that we did in December, and look forward to the opportunity to speak to more credit union groups in 2008 about this exciting new marketing channel.

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5 Responses to “Facebook – Powerful Marketing Platform”

  1. Mike Templeton Says:

    Great insight into how Facebook can serve as an advantage for CUs. I’m going to use this entry to help push my fight to unblock sites like MySpace and Facebook. 😀

  2. Matt Fagala Says:

    Good post. Thanks.
    @ Mike, funny you should mention that blocking. I am gathering ammo and fighting the same fight to get these sites unblocked.

  3. Andy Says:

    As am I. Trying to find a way to prove these sites as tools and not time wasters.

  4. Christopher Says:

    Part of understanding Facebook is doing it. Every CU marketer and executive (at the least) should set up a profile and get busy (and especially IT folks who control where you surf) – so many criticize and judge without really knowing what they are talking about.

  5. Laura Baker Says:

    Thanks for the shout out, Morriss! Facebook really is a unique tool for reaching others and I definitely agree that people need to just do it to understand it. I love the way Facebook notifies my friends of events that I’m attending and that I can put it on my profile too. It’s hard to fully grasp unless you’re on there yourself.

    The accounts I created on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter were all for that reason–to explore and see how it could work for Valley CU. I’m still figuring out the latter two as I go along, but at the very least Valley CU and me are out there. I do hope to draw more of our members to Facebook this year so that they and all their friends can find out about events and other goings-on at Valley CU.

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