BECU has found success leveraging Pinterest as part of a larger lending campaign.

Pinterest was one component of "Project Home," a three-month campaign that the 813,000-member, $11 billion credit union ran to promote its HELOC and no-equity home improvement loan. Each month focused on different topics related to home improvement, and involved BECU's newsletter, its website and social media outlets. The credit union's Wordpress news center served as a content hub for all of those elements, explained Lori Ho, digital marketing manager.

For the Pinterest portion of the campaign, members were challenged to "send in photos of unflattering rooms, and we gave them a little help with doing these DIY projects with a $500 prize," said Ho.

Members had to submit five photos of the same ugly room, with BECU using the hashtag #BECUProjectHome to link the campaign to other social media channels.

"The idea was to get people thinking about their own rooms in their own homes and things they can do to improve their homes, and the natural response after that was how they can finance it," noted Michaelene Fowler, marketing writer.

Fowler added that the contest was also a great opportunity for the credit union to expose these sorts of product offerings to a female audience.

"Pinterest's demographics are women, and it's known for doing improvement kinds of activities," she said. "It was a perfect demographic that we wanted to look to."

During the three-month promotion BECU, Tukwila, Wash., saw 565 new transactions, including new loan products and new transactions on existing loan products, said Ho.

Todd Peitzsch, BECU's manager of PR, said the credit union is not yet able to share dollar amount totals on transactions associated with Project Home.

Because Pinterest was just one component of Project Home, BECU was not able to directly link Pinterest activity to loans, but Ho said that Pinterest was the main attraction for many members, drawing as much as five times the response rate of other Project Home elements.

"When you look at our other Project Home-esque articles, running between 1,500-2,000 clicks, the Pinterest contest drove 7,500 clicks just from our monthly newsletter in March," said Ho, adding that BECU increased its Pinterest following by 183%, from 192 followers to more than 500.

"For a lot of people that entered, you could tell that this was the only board on their Pinterest profile, so they really just started a Pinterest account just for this," said Ho.

Fowler added that the CU was able to tracl members and saw that many also explored BECU's other Pinterest boards on topics such as saving money, retirement tips and more.

Marketing costs for the promotion were minimal, as much of it was done digitally, and nearly all of the expense was dedicated to prize money for the "ugly photo" winners-five $500 winners for a total of $2,500.

Fowler and Ho reminded that when running social media-driven campaigns, it's important to tailor it to the site. "Pinterest is all about inspiring photos," said Ho. "Think of something that's creative and inspirational and what people are striving for. Credit unions are in the money-lending business, so they can help people fund those dreams."

"When you're on these social networks, it's important to remember to join conversations, rather than directing the conversations," added Fowler. "We went in to join the conversation and talk about homes; we didn't just come in and talk about our products."

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