NAMB/WEST was a great success. Sure, we all learned about the challenges that we are facing when it comes to the new GFE, HUD-1 and TIL; potential obstacles created from the SAFE Act and more; however, there was lots of positive talk about new and exciting ways to network and find new business. Among the regulatory and legislative seminars and sessions, NAMB/WEST featured the session, “Social Media: How to Use Facebook, Twitter & Blogging to Build Your Business.”
The session started off with Mark Madsen, a Las Vegas-based mortgage originator, who shared his systems with a few hundred attendees on how to “Make the Web work for them, and not work on the Web.” Mark was not talking about becoming a social networking butterfly, but he described strategies in which you could use social media to connect to referral partners, such as real estate agents. Mark defines social media as an online platform that allows us to participate and social networks as sites that use artificial intelligence to help us connect to other like-minded users.
Mark started blogging back in 2006, when the local Las Vegas real estate market began to crash. Mark started to closely pay attention to the real estate agents who were still closing lots of deals, despite of the downturn of the Vegas market. By observing what these top agents were doing, he started to figured out ways to help these agents by providing them content, help get traffic to their blogs, and even offer positive commentary and words of encouragement in the form of blog comments (which, by the way, also link to your site bringing you traffic and Search Engine Optimization [SEO] value).
Mark shared with us what social media savvy real estate professionals care about. They care about content, traffic and links. They want to be found on page one of Google searches for terms like “Las Vegas first-time homebuyer.”
Mark suggests subscribing to real estate agents blogs’ RSS feeds via Google Reader. Using these tools, you can stalk your market’s top real estate agents, as well as get relevant location and industry news consolidated all in one location. I can tell you personally that I use Google Reader based on Mark’s recommendation. It’s very easy to use and a huge time-saver for finding and reading the latest news. Once you find relevant content, share it with other agents, post it onto Twitter, link to it on your blog and comment on it. Mark strongly recommends commenting as a way to build rapport with the blogger and as a way to generate traffic to your site by way of including your Web site’s URL.
“Content is King,” was a phrase that was used by offline publishers as they started to roll out Web sites in the mid-1990s. Mark makes a great point on how right now, “Content is King” for mortgage professionals. Using your knowledge base, you have a bank of content that be leveraged to create your own blogs or blog entries for your real estate agent partners. Having relevant content targeting the areas you focus on will help you get top ranking on Google for the keywords you desire.
After Mark’s presentation, Jason Berman delivered his presentation on Twitter. First off, Jason is a guy who understands the true value of tools like Twitter and Facebook. Jason was the first person in the mortgage industry, or even in real estate, that I heard use the term “Web 2.0,” long before it received mass adoption. Moreover, he was the first person I knew of that was using social media to build his mortgage pipeline.
Jason discussed the do’s and don’ts of Twitter. His main message was to be an “Informer,” not a “MEformer.” He emphasized that optimizing Twitter is possible through sharing valuable information with your followers, and not just telling everyone what you are doing.
Both Mark and Jason are great resources when it comes to social media and social networking. Feel free to contact them by e-mail at mark@MyFHABlog.com (Mark Madsen) or firstname.lastname@example.org (Jason Berman).
Andrew T. Berman is executive vice president of NMP Media Corp. and a member of the NAMB Communications Committee. You may follow him on Twitter @andrewtberman. He may be reached by phone at (516) 409-5555, ext. 333.