Is Pinterest an Emerging Marketing Tool for CUs?

Although Pinterest blew into the financial industry with much hype in early 2012, it has mostly been a flop for banks. Credit unions, however, have seen success, according to The Financial Brand.

Pinterest is a pinboard photo-sharing website that allows users to create theme-based image collections around interests and hobbies. Users can browse other people’s pinboards for inspiration, “liking” photos or “repinning” images to their collections. Today Pinterest has 25 million users.

Firefighters Community Credit Union in Cleveland joined Pinterest in February 2012.

“We’re trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology in general and explore new channels,” Brooke Bates, the credit union’s digital marketing specialist, tellsNews Now. “It is a way to connect more fully with our members.”

Interest in the social site started internally at the credit union.

“Some staff were using Pinterest on a personal level before the credit union decided to use it, and we then realized other people were using it too,” Bates says. “Women are a large percentage of our membership, and 70% to 80% of Pinterest users are women. So we made connections that way because women were flocking to Pinterest.”

Rather than just promoting itself, Firefighters Community tries to illustrate its expertise in areas that Pinterest members already talk about—saving money on recipes or hobbies, she adds.

One of the credit union’s most popular Pinterest boards is called Home Equity, which provides loan information along with tips on how to save money on renovations, how to remodel to add value, and how to sell a home.

“We don’t just limit ourselves to information about the products and services we offer,” Bates says. “We offer tips such as ‘13 painting secrets the pros won’t tell you.’ We try to illustrate our financial expertise that’s relevant to members’ everyday lives.”

The credit union hasn’t tracked its return on investment in Pinterest because it isn’t a mature offering yet, she says.

“We use members’ responses to Pinterest to guide our content strategy with other channels such as Facebook,” Bates concludes. “We try to gauge how interesting content on Pinterest may guide other marketing strategies.”

Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union in St. Louis, with $1.4 billion in assets, started Pinterest last July. The past six months were good, says Pier Alsup, senior vice president of marketing and communications.

“Our success with Pinterest is headed in the right direction. We’ve increased the number of followers,” Alsup says. “Also, we’re reaching two important segments of our membership, females and young adults, both active users of Pinterest. Plus, Pinterest is image-driven so we are able to show our brand via another media channel.”

Anheuser-Busch Employees’ currently has 28 boards, with more than 750 images pinned, and 100 followers.

“We try to provide timely and diverse topics,” Alsup says. “We hired a social media specialist last year so we could be more proactive within a variety of social media spaces.”

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