Just thinking about the term “social media” alone can be a little overwhelming. There is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. ... almost every day, something new pops up and with it, a new account to open, new connections to add, someone to friend, tag or pin, pictures to post, advertising to inform the Internet world of your expertise and on and on and on.
What can start off as a relatively innocuous way to connect, reconnect, market or search for clientele can (if you’re not careful) blossom into time wasters of cataclysmic proportion. A good friend of mine recently confessed his Facebook obsession. He initially claimed ignorance of this Facebook overindulgence until the subject of marriage counseling came up (or rather the need for it if said obsession continued), and he realized his 2,038 Facebook “Friends” didn’t really deserve bragging rights! And let’s not forget to mention the pain in the neck that may develop from trying to manage these different accounts.
So, how do you take control of this online frenzy and keep it from morphing into something of an addiction. Whether you decide to master one or incorporate several networking sites into your business plan, it must be a purposeful endeavor with a very specific strategy geared for the most part towards one purpose, the marketing of you.
I’ve never been a fan of “traditional advertising,” mostly because it simply does not generate the volume of calls or clientele for the effort or expense put forth. This is where social media, if used correctly, can be powerful for your business. You can use a more traditional business channel such as LinkedIn to create a professional presence and connect with a significant number of individuals across multiple industries. You can also use the more informal sites. You can reconnect with a lot of past friends and contacts, and yes, you can share pictures of family and other funny ‘moments’ others might enjoy reading about. But more than that, you want to make sure everyone knows exactly what it is you do for a living. There’s the one commonality with every site and it is this. They all allow you to—in your own, special, serious or goofy way—remind people that you write loans for a living.
Facebook provides a wonderful forum to showcase who you are, what you represent, what you do for a living, your hobbies, and a myriad of other reasons why people should “Like” you. I’m quite certain every contact you know were not all aware you are a mortgage loan officer prior to Mr. Zuckerberg’s little dorm room invention. Additionally, in an effort to differentiate your ‘personal’ Facebook stuff from ‘work’ Facebook stuff, you can set up a Fan Page for your business. This will allow you, to be a little more ‘business like’ if you so choose without the fear of turning off your contacts by always posting work-related stuff rather than fun stuff.
LinkedIn provides a true business presence, and allows you to connect with local companies and professions, previous employers and past alumni and so much more, all the while, informing all of your role as a skilled professional in the mortgage arena. Twitter provides you the opportunity to provide witty banter. And then there’s the “site du jour” ... Pinterest. Pinterest has experienced a meteoric rise and according to PCMAG.com, as it currently drives more customers to retailers than Google.
Whatever your site of choice, remember one thing. Human beings are not complicated. In fact, we’re rather simple; we want to gain pleasure, avoid pain and be respected. Dale Carnegie laid it out for us in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, nearly 100 years ago, and these simple axioms of the human experience haven’t changed a bit. We love to feel important. We love to garner the respect and adulation of our friends. These social media Web sites allows us humans to tap into our baser instincts and desires. On a psychological level, it really is a brilliant and telling examination of the simplicity that makes us tick.
It really goes without saying then, the frenzy is here to stay. The question becomes, “Will you harness its power?” Actually, the better question is, how and when? It’s time to decide which site or sites suite your fancy and create a plan to master them. Remember the end goal, the one marketing of you. Now you can showcase you, your personality and your professionalism within a few clicks a day. Okay, maybe I oversimplified it, but you get what I mean. Just a note worth mentioning, if you have the tendency to get lost in the intrigue of it all, make sure the time you invest doesn’t get away from you! Other than that, advertising has never been so easy.
Casey Cunningham is president of XINNIX, a provider of mortgage sales and leadership development programs. She may be reached by phone at (678) 325-3501 or e-mail [email protected]