Instagram Strategies that Really Work for Credit Unions

By Tara Moseley07.17.2017

I recently attended The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The forum hosted over 1500 professionals in the financial sector for a three-day conference, of which, I attended several breakout sessions on various topics—one of which in particular is top of mind for this blog.  

On day two of the forum, I attended a breakout session about one of the nation’s largest banks ($125 billion in assets) that grew its revenue using social media. I was curious to hear the director of social media speak on the subject to see what her findings were, and their overall strategy for success. One thing that was shocking to me about her presentation was when she said her bank wasn't on Instagram. When an audience member asked why, she responded with "our bank likes to take its time when deciding which social media platforms we should be on, and I'm not so sure where Instagram is going to go." I can understand her response, but I respectfully disagree with her and here's why:

Don't Wait—Run!

As we know, most credit union member populations are aging. With over 700 million monthly active Instagrammers, the platform's primary age group is 18-29 years old (AKA millennials), which is the perfect market for credit unions to target to grow their membership.  

We know first-hand that with the right marketing strategy, credit unions can be very successful on Instagram. In fact, according to Hubspot, "in a world where visual content remains a crucial part of any business' marketing strategy, Instagram marketing presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day."

 Create a Strategy Aligned with Goals

When your credit union is new to a social media platform, it is important to be realistic with your growth goals. Depending on how active your members are on social media, it may take a few months or up to a year to significantly grow your audience on Instagram. Be patient.

The overarching goal with any social media platform, is to drive relevant traffic back to your credit union’s website, specifically revenue generating webpages for a particular campaign. Growing followers on Instagram is just one piece of the pie.  

Download Social Stairway's Smart Goals Worksheet so you can easily measure success with your Instagram campaigns and create a solid Instagram strategy. 

Starting from Scratch on Instagram

We have a relatively new client who was just starting off on Instagram, and wanted us to help create a strategy to grow their audience there. The revenue goals behind growing their followers on Instagram was to: 1) Grow their assets by $1 million/month, 2) Increase average total services per household by .5, and 3) increase total households served by 4,000 for the year.  

We then created a strategy for their Instagram account to help accomplish these goals. Here are a few of our key strategy ideas for clients.

 Hashtag Strategy

Don't overlook the importance of hashtags. These not only help you future develop your brand on Instagram, but help to expand your audience too. We received great advice from some of the best in the business, Jenn Herman and Sue B. Zimmerman, for creating a hashtag strategy. Sue and Jenn recommend a recipe for hashtag success which consists of at least 10-15 hashtags per post.  

These hashtags should be a mix of popular (i.e. multiple millions of posts), semi-popular (hundreds of thousands of posts), and brand specific hashtags (hashtags that are specific to only your credit union). This should not only boost your followers and engagement, but will help over time to get your credit union ranked in the top posts on Instagram for a particular hashtag.

 Build Excitement with Members

Do your members know you're on Instagram? Build some excitement within your branches by offering special events around your Instagram presence. We have a client that was new to Instagram and decided to create a "Follow Friday" campaign to get their members more involved and excited about their presence on social media. Their branches offer giveaways on Fridays including doughnuts, cupcakes, branded merchandise (i.e. key chains, water bottles), and dog cookies to their members to encourage them to follow their credit union on social media.

The same credit union also set up a photo booth at one of their branches with props for members to take photos with a post them on social media. Brilliant idea!

 Use an Analytical Tool to Fine Tune Your Strategy

Once we have a strategy in place for a client, we then monitor its overall effectiveness and fine tune it over time. We have tried a few tools for Instagram analytics, but have found that Iconsquare meets our needs very well. Iconosquare allows you to measure performance, user-engagement, track competitors and hashtags, and optimize your strategy.  


Graph 1

One very helpful element of Iconosquare, is that it can tell you when it's the best time to post depending on your followers being online. We know how dramatic results can be when content is posted at the right time. This is done graphically in Iconosquare (see below):


Graph 2

The tool also offers reports to be scheduled in advance and then emailed directly to you, or you can download results directly to a .csv file. These reports also help us in creating our own ROI reports for our clients, and ultimately in fine tuning their strategy.

Tara Moseley is a partner of Social Stairway LLC, which provides digital marketing services to credit unions and affiliates. Reprinted with permission from, an independent source for credit union news founded by Randy Smith and John Pettit.


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