Case Study: Veridian Credit Union’s “Surprise Squad”

At Lava Row, much of our work with clients takes place behind-the-scenes: helping companies build an internal social media team, providing employees with best practices training for social platforms, brainstorming online integration with existing marketing and communication projects. But every so often, we have the opportunity to work with our clients on end-to-end digital media strategy, bringing an idea to life and helping that idea become viral through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and more.

We have worked with Veridian Credit Union, Iowa’s largest credit union, for about a year now. When we first met their team, they were in a place many other companies are in today: comfortable with their presence on social platforms, but eager to find unique, innovative ways to expand their use of social media companywide. One of their goals was to integrate social media more cohesively into marketing campaigns, a goal we began to tackle this fall with the grand opening of their new branch in Coralville, Iowa.

In anticipation of their grand opening, the Veridian Credit Union team wanted to get to know the Coralville community in a creative way and give back during the holiday season. The Veridian teamĀ formed a group they called the Surprise Squad, made up of Coralville branch employees (but didn’t reveal this to the community). They wanted to put the focus on the power of good deeds and random acts of kindness; their identity, they announced, would be revealed later. In the months leading up to the Coralville branch opening (and even now), the Surprise Squad brought anonymous good deeds each day to members of their community. They delivered rolls of quarters to people at the local laundromat, treated community members to free lunch at local restaurants, even paid the deductible to repair one family’s damaged vehicle. And along the way, the Surprise Squad distributed cards encouraging the people they surprised to visit their blog, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

The campaign received a tremendous amount of support online and offline, as community members, inspired to see good deeds happening around them, began to pay it forward. The Surprise Squad page on Facebook now has almost 3,000 fans, and was frequently visited by local community members sharing their Surprise Squad experiences with the rest of the Facebook community. Coralville residents could follow the Surprise Squad’s activities by visiting their blog, which was updated each day with a recap of that day’s surprises; looking through photos from the surprises uploaded to Facebook and flickr; and watching live reactions to the surprises through the Surprise Squad’s YouTube channel. The Surprise Squad also used Twitter to tweet out clues about their next surprises.

The final piece of the puzzle was a donation contest run through the Surprise Squad’s Facebook page. For the first two weeks of the campaign, local community members could nominate local nonprofit organizations for a chance to win a $2,500 donation. Following the nomination period, the Coralville community rallied their family, friends and neighbors to vote for their favorite organizations, and many organizations were neck and neck in the days before the competition ended. In the end, the $2,500 donation was delivered to the Preemie Project, an organization that makes blankets and onesies for premature babies born at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

We’re incredibly proud of Veridian Credit Union’s success with this campaign, and with the support they received from the community and from local media. The most effective campaigns aren’t just shared through social media; social media is integrated into their very core, from concept to execution. The Veridian Credit Union team did a terrific job seeking ways to incorporate social platforms at every step of the process, and we’re excited to share their success as a model of a well-planned, well-executed campaign.

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