Your customers are active people that want real-time information about the mortgage market. Social networking allows your company to get your message across quickly, and with easy-to-master tools. Merriam Webster defines social media as “Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”
In this article, I will delve into the facets of social media and how to best utilize social media to reach your new and existing customers.
Why social media is important
Social media is important to expand your reach and build confidence with your target audience. In the mortgage industry, this can range from helpful links that will make searching for loans easier, news updates and opinions on the housing crisis, to tips on how to lower debt. Value equals loyalty in social media and reaches a broader audience to create a strong brand image of a trusted mortgage professional.
Begin by reviewing all the types of social media available, and determine how you want to reach your market. Once you determine the types of social media, review the following steps to create a clear and concise social media strategy.
1. Determine messages and a frequency in which to distribute these messages (examples: loan rates, listings, tips, mortgage industry updates, firm updates).
2. Link the various social media tools together to limit re-postings such as having blogs set up to directly to link with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
3. Set up a social media calendar with at least three months of topics to ensure that you are constantly updating your audience.
4. Become a mortgage authority by offering your visitors something they cannot find anywhere else.
5. Take time to interact and assist your visitors so they turn to you for advice. It is time consuming, yet your return will be worth the effort.
6. Get creative by conducting polls, contests and giveaways.
Types of social media
►Blogging: There are so many blogs in this era as people want to share what they know. From a mortgage market perspective, sharing details on the industry can give your company a strong brand image. The key is to provide relevant information on a regular basis. The rule of thumb is to have a blog at least monthly and no more than weekly. Most blog sites are free, such as WordPress and Tumblr. LinkedIn also provides direct links to WordPress and Blog Link from your LinkedIn account.
►Facebook: Let’s face it ... people use Facebook more than they like to admit. Fan Pages are a great way to stay connected with your audience in real-time and the posts show up in their daily feeds. Building a following is important by sending out updates to all your personal connections on Facebook, as well as sending out to your e-mail contacts. Facebook easily fosters automated distribution to lists.
You can generate new warm leads because you personally know your contacts and you can also make new friends with acquaintances in your network. Facebook is a great way to post pictures of your firm, promote networking events, social activities and charity events.
One tip to increase your following is to “Like” other real estate sites logged on as your Fan Page such as “The Official Real Estate Referral Group” as they have more than 58,000 likes on Facebook. Members will be able to see you on the list and you can comment and like their posts to broaden your audience.
►LinkedIn: One of the most powerful aspects of LinkedIn is that it is highly visible on Google searches. To aid in this, add your firm’s Web site and any other affiliates by using keywords versus names of the Web site. The link will still go to your Web site, yet come up in the Google search. Other uses of LinkedIn include:
♦Automatically linking to your blog using WordPress or Blog Link
♦Setting up direct ad campaigns (there is a fee for this service)
♦Joining other mortgage industry groups to post your blogs and commentary to expand your audience
♦Utilizing the events option to announce events you are sponsoring or attending
♦Linking into your contacts connections to broaden your reach
♦Finding new products or services to offer clients
♦Connecting with professional contacts such as real estate-owned (REO) agents and non-profit agencies that promote homeownership
►Twitter: Twitter is best used for short updates to your followers. To keep your followers engaged, you need to offer something useful so that they continue to interact with you. For the mortgage market, choose the areas in which you can provide useful updates, such as loan rates and house listings.
►YouTube: Marketing videos are an excellent way to easily get across a message to your audience. Most firms have YouTube accounts in which they store videos, commercials and/or interviews. You can hire a firm to pull together a one-minute marketing video to depict your firm in a clear and concise manner. Additionally, you can do video blogs, called “vlogs” on mortgage topics.
Compliance and social media
It is important to be aware of the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) when introducing mortgage information through social media. It is best to keep information at a high level versus discussing anything related to pricing or fees via social media. For example, TILA requires that any disclosure of rate info be disclosed in form of an APR.
In closing, social media is the free wave to start riding to get a broader reach in the mortgage marketplace. Keep your message simple to stay compliant and captivate your audience with useful information.
Kerry W. Elam is managing director of operations and human resources with Actualize Consulting. She oversees the finance, marketing and recruiting functions of the firm, and is also responsible for facilitating knowledge management, training and social activities for the employees of the firm. She may be reached by phone at (703) 868-1506 or e-mail [email protected]