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For our latest FI Highlight we spoke with Danielle Frawley, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Fort Community Credit Union (FCCU). Danielle explained how FCCU is using social media to engage and reward members in new ways.

Can you tell me about Fort Community Credit Union?

In the last year and a half, we have committed a more extensive portion of our marketing efforts to social media. We feel that it is an important channel to maintain communication with our membership. It has provided us the opportunity to get to know members that may not visit the branches, but yet are still a vital part of our credit union. Our credit union team members are all ingrained into the communities that we serve, and we can showcase their community and volunteer efforts via social media. This helps create more of a personal connection between our members and team members. During the last year and a half, we also went through a rebranding and social media allowed us to communicate these changes at a much more personal level than business letters being sent to members would have.

You recently launched your Buzz Points program. Can you tell us about this partnership?

Our credit union, Fort Community Credit Union (FCCU), partnered with Buzz Points in October 2012. Buzz Points is a program that is social-media driven based on encouraging members to buy local and to be aware of the economic impact of buying local versus at big box stores. The program is promoted through Facebook, emails, websites and a mobile app. Our members are rewarded with “Buzz Points” when they use their debit card at participating local merchants for their loyalty. FCCU also rewards members additional “Buzz Points” for interactions with the credit union and opening specific products and services.

Our members accumulate additional points for connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter and earn even more points every month for staying connected to us. These points accumulate and once they have enough, they can use the points to redeem gift cards for local merchants who are on the program, or they can use the points to donate to local charities that are on the program.

What successes have you seen with the Buzz Points program?

We rolled the program out to our members on November 1, 2012 and saw a 5% swing from national buying to local buying within the first six months. The program really aligns with the values of credit unions. It’s all about building awareness of the economic effects of buying local in hopes that we can all work together to build more vibrant and sustainable communities.

What insights do you think the Buzz Points program provides about rewards programs?

Our members are inundated with different reward programs, so we knew that in order for our rewards program to stand out, we had to make sure that it was easy to use. All members have to do is sign up online and use their debit card. They don’t have to have a special loyalty card or a coupon. The debit card tracks everything for them. Buzz Points differentiates itself by using data analytics to make the program more relevant. As the program continues to grow, we will be able to analyze debit card transactions to market to our members with more relevance. For example, if the member has been dining out at a national chain, we may send them an email to check out our local restaurant that is on the Buzz Points program instead.

Are you looking to drive engagement to your credit union within a certain demographic? Does the Buzz Points Program help with this?

As with many financial institutions in the current market, we are trying to grow our loan portfolio. To do this, we are trying to engage those who are at the borrowing stage in their life. Currently 60% of our Facebook users are between the ages of 18-44. This demographic consists of those that are borrowing. Buzz Points has helped us to increase our social media presence through email marketing and community photo contests that have driven traffic to our Facebook page. We hope to continue to increase our fan base on Facebook in order to educate consumers on the difference between credit unions and banks, as well as all of the products and services that FCCU offers. There are so many misconceptions about credit unions, and we’re hoping that our communications via social media help to correct those misconceptions.

What is your advice for credit unions looking to engage members in new creative ways?

Don’t always assume that your members know what they want from your credit union. Five years ago, I didn’t know that I wanted a device that would hold 1,000 songs in my pocket, but Steve Jobs created the iPod, and now I can’t imagine life without it. Don’t assume that you can’t do certain things because your financial institution might not be big enough to handle the project. I’ve seen very small financial institutions be far more innovative than some of the larger institutions. Participating in design thinking has expanded my horizons to what can be possible. By taking projects and breaking them down to a simple prototype, it allows for your credit union’s dreams and visions to come alive with a lot less resources that you probably originally envisioned.


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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Brad Strothkamp

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.