January 06, 2009

Students, credit union create Facebook campaign

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Today’s technology-savvy young adults live in a world where conversations often occur via text messages on cellular phones or computer screens. It’s a time when meeting and mingling with friends frequently happens on social networking Web sites.

The recent launch of the Smart Young Investors program by the SIU Credit Union in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate business students is all about reaching those young adults in their world to educate them about financial issues. Students in the University’s College of Business promotional strategy and management marketing course created a Web-based social networking campaign featuring the “Smart Young Investors” Facebook fan page.

Easy to access by simply doing a main page search at www.facebook.com, the fan page is full of data. It’s an interactive page with information about smart investing, wise spending, current economic trends and much more. There’s a discussion board and details about upcoming events too.

“Many companies nowadays think they need an online social marketing campaign to reach the coveted 18-25 year old demographic,” said Suzanne Nasco, associate marketing professor in the College of Business. “But, as I teach the students, if a social networking campaign is not part of a broader, integrated marketing plan, then it will not reach objectives.”

Students worked with the credit union and its marketing director, Chris Sievers, to implement the Facebook promotion. Last semester’s campaign culminated with a celebration at the Student Center in November. New “fan” page participants earned automatic entry into a drawing that day for two $100 prizes, six $50 prizes and five $20 prizes.

“We’re very pleased with what the MBA students did,” Sievers said. “Strategically speaking, it went well. They did a good job setting things up, reaching the 18 to 25 year olds we wanted to reach and gave us a nice road map to continue on.”

The credit union has a number of programs for young people, including the Bailey Bobcat Youth Accounts and financial literacy courses for area schools. Sievers said the marketing students made a number of suggestions for connecting with the late teens to mid-20s crowd, including the Facebook fan page and Internet advertising. He said those ideas have proven quite successful and the credit union plans to continue the approach.

There’s also preliminary discussion about the possibility of a financial club, an SIUC registered student organization that the credit union could assist with information and financial resources. In the meantime, the free-access Facebook site continues to garner student interest.

SIUC students working with the SIU Credit Union to create the social networking campaign are all master of business administration students. Listed by hometown, they are:


Buffalo Grove -- Mike Li

Herrin -- Melanie Hammond

Peoria Heights -- Ryan Foster

Wheeling -- Dennis Melnikov


Jakarta -- Tyson (This is the full name)