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Andy’s Answers: How USAA builds community in a digital world

USAA — a major financial services company targeting the military and their families — has long been focused on fostering a sense of community between their members. Because the brand was so invested in word of mouth, moving into social media (or, as they sold it internally, “electronic word of mouth”) wasn’t such a stretch.

In her presentation at BlogWell in San Diego, USAA’s Rhonda Crawford outlined how they’re working to expand this sense of community online via social media. A few of her big ideas:

  • Reviews aren’t just for consumer packaged goods. Rhonda says reviews have been a big way they’ve been able to monetize social media and consumer-generated content. By allowing customer comments and reviews, Rhonda says they’ve taken advantage of the fact that 84% of U.S. customers prefer the opinions of other customers as opposed to experts.
  • Focus on existing communities. USAA has experienced a lot of success by reaching out to existing fan communities, including those on sites like military.com, YouTube and other satellite sites.
  • Look for social media “true believers” internally. Rhonda suggests looking internally for believers in social media to help move your programs forward. At USAA, Rhonda and her team were fortunate to have their CFO as one of the earliest and biggest advocates.

And if you dig this presentation, you might check out our upcoming BlogWell event in Seattle on May 5.