Social Media: The Cornerstone to Your Marketing Foundation
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Social Media: The Cornerstone to Your Marketing Foundation

July 26, 2018
Social media has become a key component of any business marketing strategy and cannot be ignored as a means to promote and grow a company. Those in the mortgage industry might wonder why anyone would follow a mortgage company. The fact is that borrowers want to understand lending options. Mortgage professionals want to impart information that leads to good life choices for their clients. This makes them a valuable go-to resource that someone would want to follow on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. It is pertinent to utilize social media channels to network, collaborate and share relevant, diverse content quickly. Social media requires a strategy, excellent consistently posted content, and planning in order to achieve successful results and maintain an engaged audience.
 
Before sharing tips on best practices for a well-executed social media marketing plan, it is good to know why the effort is worth it. Top originators know to market where prospects live. Prospects now live in the social media world. Pew Research Center’s latest study on Social Media Use in 2018 reports that 68 percent of all adult users across a wide range of demographics are on Facebook and 35 percent on Instagram. LinkedIn is mostly used by college graduates and those in high-income households with 50 percent of this demographic viewing. This information should be enough to motivate anyone in the mortgage industry to maintain a social media campaign to keep pipelines full.
It can be a struggle for a mortgage company to determine how to use social media to grow business in a challenging market.  It is crucial to understand how to use it, engage your audience, and drive traffic to your Web site.
Steven Winokur, Chief Marketing Officer at Angel Oak Companies, has seen the impact of a strong social media plan.
 
“Incorporating social media into your marketing is a cost-effective way to reach a large audience,” said Winokur. “It has made it easier to establish rapport with brokers and potential borrowers. Angel Oak has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in a declining market. Brokers want information on how we have done this and how we can help them thrive. Social media helps us impart this information quickly and keeps our audience engaged.”
 
Building blocks
Most social networks are appropriate for almost any industry and message, but it is important to understand the business model. The light-hearted content shared on Facebook requires edits to conform with the more professional environment of LinkedIn. Understanding what each network does and providing a customized message can better resonate with your audience increasing your chances of adding followers. Consistency with posting is also very important so that your audience is accustomed to seeing your message and then anticipating your next post. Strictly posting product information or “contact me” sales messages becomes boring and always has the perception of just being another advertisement.
 
Brokers and borrowers want help and not a sales pitch. This helps raise your brands authority and trust in the market. Add in good news, industry updates, how your products are helpful to borrowers unique circumstances, staff introductions, and celebrations and you have more of a story to build through social media. The objective should be to get your audience to see you as a go-to expert. Minding etiquette will keep viewers from unsubscribing. Avoid hard sell messages, do not overload readers with too much information or hashtags, and make sure links are relevant and active.
 
Content is king and the key to a successful campaign, but there is work and planning to be done beforehand. The backbone of a truly successful social media campaign includes strategy and it is important to setup an analytical infrastructure across the platforms where you want to advertise. Facebook and LinkedIn have pretty sophisticated analytical reporting channels that integrate with Google Analytics, and can provide extremely detailed information about your social followers, as well as your Web site users. Once you start to understand the demographic of users who are engaging with your Web site, ads and posts, you can customize the focus of your messaging to keep driving new leads. Measuring success comes down to building your audience through reach and motivating your audience to interact with your content.
 
Conversion is the most important measurement of all. Social media content should always link back to your Web site. Conversion metrics you should track include registration for downloads and online form completions.
 
Conversation into leads
While driving conversation and engagement is obviously important when creating social media posts, it is also critical to have a defined goal with each post you share. Providing relevant and interesting content, along with an attractive branded image, should get people’s attention. Posting relevant articles, industry updates along with products that are tailored to certain circumstances makes it easy for someone not sure how to proceed with a borrower who may not qualify for traditional financing for instance. It is also crucial that you provide a link to your Web site with a clear “Call to Action” that will ultimately help you generate more leads. When posting about how great and unique your mortgage programs are, give people a “More Information” prompt that links to a webpage with more details. Once they click through to your Web site, provide an easy way for the potential client to speak with a representative at your company, or leave their contact information.
 
Getting started
Just dive in there! Spend a day figuring out the messaging you want to use for your profiles. You want your social pages to be similar in messaging and branding to your website, but not exactly the same. Equally important to consider is the differences between Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They are all different platforms that people use for different information. Make sure not to say the exact same things on all three platforms, because a lot of your customers and business contacts might end up following all of your pages. Do not constantly hit them with the same post on every platform.
Google will index online activities. This is important to understand when you consider how to increase search engine results page rankings and reach new audiences. Participating on a regular basis will allow presence on that platform and the key words attached to it will rise to the top of any relative Google search. Having a presence on multiple social media platforms will help your customers find you in Google search results for key terms. Millennials will likely do their own research before connecting to an expert so help them find you more readily through Google search. Millennials now have the power of the purse in the market for housing making them a valuable demographic target.
 
Video
Video advertising is a relatively new tool on social media platforms. Corporate videos can help give your company a voice and can help build trust with your audience. They can teach, share a success story or give tips. However, you can also waste a lot of money on video marketing series that no one cares about. You can also make the mistake of making them too long. Keep them short as in less than a minute short. Before investing in video marketing campaigns, try shooting a few “home movies” with a smart phone and see how your audiences react. Social channels provide analytical statistics on how many people click your video, how long they view it, and whether they take any action after watching. Before hiring a video production company to conduct professional, in-studio interviews with your company’s executive team, conduct a few interviews of your own, post them, and see if anyone watches them.
 
Social media platforms roll out new advertising features all the time (like video). Some are going to work for your business, and some will not. In almost every case, there are ways to test the potential effectiveness of a new advertising feature using a ‘do it yourself’ platform that will either be free or cheaper than hiring an agency.
 
The real key to being an effective marketer on social media is to keep testing things until you find a sweet spot. Launch a campaign, analyze your results, tweak your strategy, and try again. You might have 10 campaigns that no one responds to before you finally crack the code and start generating new leads. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have endless amounts of data on all of your potential clients, as well as high-powered algorithms designed to track your clients and convert them into leads. The key is pointing the algorithms in the right direction. Once you find something that works, hammer it until you wear it out.
 
Mortgage industry compliance and social media can play nicely
Compliance should be common sense. Do not post things that are offensive. Do not be predatory, and do not promise things you cannot deliver. There are also specific social media governance and compliance challenges for the mortgage industry with every state you must follow. All mortgage companies must adhere to the strict compliance and monitoring requirements by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council that went into effect December 2013. These guidelines not only protect the consumer, but also reduce mortgage companies’ risks to fraudulent brand activity on the Web. This should not be a problem for those companies with sound compliance and monitoring procedures.
 
Social media is a great thing, but is not every thing
Social media is an excellent enhancement that can further optimize your marketing and advertising plans. Trade shows, meetings, traditional advertising and expertise all work together. Social media transforms marketing efforts, expands your network and helps your company engage in new ways. It will increase leads in your pipeline, drive traffic to areas you want to promote thereby increasing business opportunities from a variety of audiences. Taking your time with it, getting to know what your audience wants and posting relevant content builds a robust social media platform. Nurture it and you will see your reputation as a mortgage expert grow.
John Bentley is Digital Marketing Manager for Angel Oak CompaniesJohn Bentley is Digital Marketing Manager for Angel Oak Companies. He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in business administration. He is a dedicated War Eagle fan and his hobbies include golf, listening to classical music and true crime podcasts on road trips. He has had a successful career in digital marketing career working with start-up companies prior to joining Angel Oak.
This article originally appeared in the July 2018 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

 
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