SELCO Harnesses the Power of Instagram Reels

These days, many credit unions maintain some sort of presence on Instagram, a social media platform that has amassed around 1 billion users worldwide. They commonly use the platform to share news and information through Stories and in-Feed posts, or to reach existing and potential members through geo- or behavior-targeted sponsored content.

A relatively new feature called Instagram Reels, introduced in August 2020, has flown largely under the radar in the credit union sphere, but it’s quickly gaining popularity and momentum among general users.

According to Instagram, Reels allows users to create fun videos to share with friends or anyone on the platform. Users can record and edit 15- to 30-second multi-clip videos using audio, special effects, and other creative tools. Reels can be shared with a user’s followers on their Feed, or if they have a public account, Reels can be made available to the public through the Explore page.

Since its introduction, Instagram Reels began changing the way users engage on the platform, something that SELCO Community Credit Union, based in Eugene, Oregon, quickly took note of. Having witnessed the potential and power of Reels firsthand through personal use, SELCO’s Marketing & Communications Specialist, Allison Weber, led the credit union to begin experimenting with the new feature in March of 2021.

Though Instagram Reels is still in its infancy, as one of the earliest adopters of the platform among credit unions in the Northwest, SELCO is already strategizing new and different ways to expand the variety and format of its content — and seeing tremendous early returns.

“We started out with just me filming, editing, and publishing from my home office with nothing more than an iPhone and a tripod, but one of Instagram Reels’ biggest appeals is its informal, approachable, and creative nature,” said Weber. “With our most recent auto loan refi video, which had almost 1,500 views in its first 24 hours, we brought the experience into the branch environment for the first time and will continue to experiment with a variety of locations and formats as the program grows.”

Unlike Instagram Stories, which disappear after 24 hours unless saved to Highlights, SELCO’s Instagram Reels show up in the Feed, where they are always visible to existing followers, and Instagram’s algorithm also delivers the content to non-followers based on their interests, behaviors, and other relevant factors. For example, with 872 followers, the @selcoccu Instagram account has a limited reach for its stories and posts. But SELCO’s Debt Avalanche Overview Reel has already amassed almost 7,000 views since being published on April 9, reaching far beyond the credit union’s scope of loyal followers. Combined, SELCO’s 10 Instagram Reels have garnered more than 16,000 views.

SELCO’s early success with Reels is proof that other Northwest credit unions can utilize this feature to engage both existing and potential members — whether by sharing free financial education, offering quick money management tips, or introducing a new product or service. The potential is virtually limitless.

“Listen to what information your members are asking for and prioritize that content because if it’s something they are interested in learning more about, chances are that the broader public is also interested in the topic,” said Weber.

Some of the topics SELCO has covered through Reels include fortifying passwords, how to write a check, student loan forbearance, debt management, and auto loan refinancing.

Getting started with Instagram Reels is simple, and the learning curve is relatively short. Each video takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to produce from start to finish, including story development, scriptwriting, filming, editing, and voiceover. The investment, said Weber, is well worth the return.

“It’s the perfect platform because it crosses over between the younger TikTok users and the older Facebook users, and provides a vast and untapped audience,” said Weber. “We’re reaching people who we might never get the opportunity to engage with otherwise, and empowering them — whether they are members or not — with valuable financial education content that is timely, relevant, and appreciated.”

Is your credit union utilizing a creative approach to reach members and non-members online? Email us — we’d love to hear about it!

Posted in Around the NW.