Gaining Gen Y’s Membership and Trust in a Digital World

Rachel Botsman explained how technology should improve credit unions’ business and communities at the 2014 World Credit Union Conference in July.

By Sarah Timmins, Social Media Manager, World Council of Credit Unions

Visit any U.S. college campus and count the number of students with mobile devices in hand. You will quickly notice that we’ve shifted from a “walk and talk” generation to a “walk and tweet” generation.

Every 60 seconds on Facebook 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are uploaded. Facebook has the highest penetration (60%) of all Internet users globally, while Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world. Social media is part of most young adults’ daily routines. It’s how they stay connected. It’s how they reinforce value in the people, brands and organizations they interact with.

In Africa, the world’s fastest growing mobile subscriber market has emerged and is estimated to reach 1 billion subscribers by 2015. Their young adults are tech-savvy consumers seeking digital, convenient financial services that bring value to their lives, just like Americans. Credit unions everywhere must address this significant shift in thinking when developing strategies to reach and attain young adult members. We must lean in to this shift and face it head-on.

Social media provides credit unions with a unique opportunity to assist with costly life decisions facing young adults worldwide: attending college; paying back student loans; purchasing a first car or home; starting a family. By positioning themselves on social media as online life supporters, credit unions build emotional capital and trust with their members in an effort to improve lives in their communities. Instilling trust at this age helps secure lifetime loyalty and opens the doors to other products and services that will be useful in the future.

At the 2014 World Credit Union Conference, Rachel Botsman, keynote speaker and author of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, stressed, “Technology is at its best when it simplifies, connects and empowers our lives. [We must] embrace the shift from institutional trust to peer trust.”

If your credit union were a person with one voice representing its community, what would that person be like? What would they share with their members online? Similar to people, organizations struggle to gain trust if messages seem insincere, inconsistent or primarily self-interested. Daily ad-like posts clogging up members’ news feeds discourage engagement. The best messages focus most on members’ interests and values.

It is time for credit unions to embrace social media as a key tool to build young adult peer trust to ease their financial life decisions today and into the future.  

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

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