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How Meta Advertising Policies Affect Credit Union Marketing

Posted March 11, 2024
7 minute read

Love them or hate them, the guidelines of Meta’s ad platform greatly impact the ways credit unions market their services.

Now and then, this online tech giant will undergo significant advertising changes with the ability to make—or break—your credit union’s social media advertising strategy. In 2019, these rules did not necessarily change to the advantage of credit unions.

It may be said that rules were meant to be broken, but the consequences of attempting to move around Meta’s hard-and-fast rules could end up with the suspension of your ad account.

However, not everything is lost with Meta's advertising standards for credit unions. Once you have a good understanding of the new policies, you'll need to start thinking strategically about your campaigns and devise creative ways to reach your target audience while remaining compliant with Meta's ad rules.

Meta Advertising Guidelines Change Explained

The loss of organic reach through social media advertisements is nothing short of cataclysmic, with on average only 1.52% of total organic reach left from Facebook.

If your credit union is not paying for Facebook ads yet, it should be because paid promotions are the new social media norm. But here's the catch: with the new stringent guidelines for paid ads, it's crucial to play by the rules to avoid ads getting rejected, missing out on your target audience completely—or what’s worse—ending up with your account getting suspended. 

So, how did we go from where we once were to where we are now?

The Old Meta Advertising Guidelines

2018 was generally considered to be the zenith of Facebook’s “Wild West” advertising strategy. With multiple tracked metrics and various third-party data collections, the average Facebook user produced a host of demographic information easily targeted by marketing professionals.

The most popular of these include:

  • Location and location history
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Key interests
  • Groups or favorited events

Unfortunately, some of these collection data points stretched outside what many would consider being public information. Some of these more private data points created a large point of contention between Facebook and its users, such as:

  • Searches and deleted searches (in the platform)
  • Text messages, contacts, and audio message recordings
  • Apps and uninstalled apps
  • In-app purchases
  • Political leanings or affiliations

Some aspects of these metrics could be used with great success in a credit union marketing strategy, although Facebook’s unconventional data accrual raised several concerns about personal privacy in a digital age. The nature of social media information tracking and sensitive personal data collection eventually came to a head in late 2018.

Three important circumstances prompted new rules for Facebook advertising:

  1. Cambridge Analytica: Harvesting raw data to gather political information, analytics company Cambridge Analytica was found to be evaluating the "emotional states" of Facebook users to uncover methods of political message marketing to viable users.
  2. Breach of Privacy: Outraged by the news, many members of the public became politically outspoken against both Facebook and Instagram. Millions of users deleted their profiles from Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, all of which are owned by the parent company. In a single day, Facebook dropped $123 billion in value. The company needed to quickly change its marketing approach to preserve its value and brand integrity.
  3. Perceived Discrimination: Concerned about the use of their personal data, many Facebook users worried that their age, gender, or disabilities could prevent them from receiving equal consumer treatment. The U.S. Government sued Facebook in the Spring of 2019, seeking a correction of the company’s advertising policy.

Before the data fallout of 2018, credit union marketers could simply tailor their digital ads toward any audience they desired. Advertisers were free to choose a specific gender, age range, and income bracket for their consumer base, all within a particular radius. Today, that option is gone.

The New Meta Advertising Guidelines

The newest Meta advertising guidelines are a far cry from the company’s early “Wild West” regulations. Today, there are a host of important rules to follow and vital changes to track, the most important of which are listed here.

Facebook asks for specified categories for all ads and it's important to choose the appropriate option for your ads. However, if none of the listed categories accurately describe your advertisement, you may not need to select a special ad category. The available options include credit; employment; housing; social; and issues/elections/politics.

  • Targeted demographics and income brackets are no longer supported on the site. Credit scores, employment history, and income estimations are not available for targeting.
  • Age targeting is disabled, meaning that all advertisements must be geared toward a pre-set bracket between 18-65+ years of age.
  • Geography targeting must include “people living in OR recently in this location” with a required minimum radius of 15 miles, making the reach much wider than it used to be.
  • Limited demographics aren’t available anymore. Once you select your special ad category, you’re restricted to “interest” only.
  • Behavioral targeting methods are highly limited and include few to no options. Although interested target options still exist, they are very different from those allowed by Facebook’s 2018 guidelines.

Unless Meta’s advertising standards are followed completely, the ads for your credit union will be completely rejected by the company’s internal system.

Universally Effective Meta Advertising for Credit Unions

Even if the guidelines for credit union advertising have drastically changed, there are still some excellent ways to define, target, and market to the Facebook or Instagram audience your credit union is seeking.

Get Specific, Get Realistic

Keep your audience as well defined as you can, whittling it down to a core customer or persona. Think about the ways you can leverage Instagram versus Facebook audiences because the general demographics of each are wildly different. 

Instagram attracts a younger audience, with approximately 70.8% of its global users being under 35 years old. However, Facebook boasts a more varied age range, with around 60% of its users falling between the ages of 25 and 54. 

If you haven’t done this already, try scripting up a marketing persona or two to help guide your thoughts. By identifying where your audience spends their time online, you can effectively allocate resources to reach them where they are most active.

You can leverage remarketing strategies to further narrow your demographics on certain clicks, inquiries, or contacts. There is a high chance that this will lead to more qualified site traffic.

However, it's important to note that remarketing on Facebook is becoming increasingly costly, prompting many credit unions to transition to Google platforms for this type of targeting. While social media advertising has shown its effectiveness, it's wise to consider whether running the remarketing campaign on alternative platforms would yield better results.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Social Media Family

Credit union Facebook ad example generic

Craft your ads to seamlessly blend into the platform and its placements. The more your advertisements resonate with the natural flow of the platform, the more likely they are to gain trust and capture high-quality attention from audiences. With various placement options at your disposal, it's essential to choose wisely, considering both the selected platform and the typical content users engage with.

For example, if you opt for a Reels campaign on Instagram, users anticipate vertical videos that are brief and captivating, designed to grab their attention swiftly. Conversely, an In-Feed ad might feature an image or video with dimensions suited to the platform's feed, providing a different engagement experience. By aligning your ad format with user expectations, you can maximize its effectiveness and resonate more deeply with your target audience.

You should also dig into Facebook tools such as connection targeting, which sends ads to people who respond to your events, like your page or products, or are friends with people who interact with your Facebook page. Running ads with connection targeting helps to familiarize yourself with your Facebook family and garners better clicks as a result.

Custom Tools for Custom Results

Use Facebook’s “Special Ad Audience” tool to run advertisements against a highly specific subset of your target market. Formerly referred to as a “Look-Alike Audience,” this program allows you to import company-specific audience data into the Facebook advertising dashboard.

While not perfect, this is an excellent opportunity for businesses to reach new customers by targeting users who “look like” a sample of their best current patrons.

Is Meta Advertising for Credit Unions Still a Recommended Marketing Strategy?

Despite the slight drop in effectiveness and the higher price tag, WebStrategies still recommends for most credit unions that 10-15% of your total digital advertising budget be allocated to Facebook digital ads.

Feeling overwhelmed with all this information? If you could use a hand with your credit union advertising, click the button below to discover not only how WebStrategies can get your organization found amidst a vast digital landscape but can also help generate more online applications.

Get Help With Your Credit Union Facebook Advertising

Topics Facebook, Digital advertising, Credit Union Marketing

WebStrategies exists to improve the personal success of our clients, grow their businesses, and turn them into raving fans. This is accomplished by providing strategy based, data-driven digital marketing services, advice and plans that convert online visitors into leads and sales for our clients.

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