There is no denying that social media is necessary for a company or service provider to be in business in 2019. It is here to stay, and it will continue to evolve. But, it can be fun and could end up being your best friend if you can figure out how to harness its powers to generate some business. It is a lot easier than knocking on doors and cold-calling.
What is social media marketing? It is a hybrid definition of two important things marketing and social media!
One definition of marketing is communicating the value of a product, service, or brand to customers to promote or sell that product, service or brand.
Marketing blends art and behavioral sciences, such as psychology and sociology, and makes use of information technology to interpret the data.
Social media marketing focuses efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share across their social networks; the message spreads from user to user as opposed to the brand or company itself. This form of marketing is also referred to as “earned” media.
Digital marketing uses electronic devices to engage with users; includes platforms such as Web sites, e-mail, apps and social networks as well as non-Internet channels like TV, radio and SMS, also referred to as online marketing, Internet marketing or Web marketing.
If you combine this all together, it is social media marketing. What has changed are the methods to communicate our messages and the devices we are using to consume the information, but in the end, it is all about ROI. We are trying to influence people to buy our product, service or brand.
The major social media channels for mortgage professionals to use for marketing are:
►LinkedIn: A professional networking channel. The intention is to learn, grow, and connect. Content should be formatted for busy professionals on their lunch break or coffee break. LinkedIn is where mortgage professionals should be going to impress and inform real estate agents and business partners, as well as prospects with well-researched informational content.
►Twitter: A conversational networking channel. The intention is to speak to each other and gather information as quickly as possible. Communication on Twitter is much faster than other platforms. Content should be concise and frequent.
What do people want on Twitter: To talk with people, not at them; photos and videos; time is everything; and more is more.
►Facebook: The intention is to be entertained and stay in touch with friends and family. Content should be visually impactful and use storytelling. Some things you should do once a part of the Facebook community: Join groups to generate opportunities; answer questions; create a community around your service; establish authority; and network digitally.
►YouTube: The intention is to learn new skills or be entertained. Content should be edited and stylized to stand out with a consistent theme and target audience.
►Instagram: The intention is to be inspired and get motivated. Content should be visually impactful. Storytelling is also super effective here.
In general, social media is highly visual. So, when you post, use images of people or places instead of things. Research finds that images of people get more engagement. While we love to show pictures of beautiful homes for which we have provided funding to, we should also take pictures of the people that are thrilled to be moving into that home!
Take photos of folks at your company. They help potential customers learn more about your brand and culture at your company. Anything fun and quirky works! Don’t be afraid to let your co-workers shine. Remember, your customers might not ever see the great processor that worked tirelessly on their loan in person, but they might love seeing him or her enjoying Pizza Friday or Red Sox Day at the office!
Make sure your images represent the world around you, too. Don’t forget about diversity and inclusion; this creates a social media image to which everyone can relate!
When you create content, the intention is supposed to be to inform or entertain with the result being engagement. Engagement can be “Liking” your content, which is fine, but what you want are comments and sharing. You want borrowers, real estate agents and referral partners to ask questions or even disagree with what you have posted so you can explain your point of view. You want interaction.
So, by now, I think we all agree that you need to be on social media. That also means that you have to create content. I believe the best content for mortgage marketing has to come from someone who knows the industry. There are companies that create content for mortgage and real estate professionals, but you must read and review the content carefully. Content creation is an industry in itself, and the content is sometimes made to be sold to as many users as possible. Therefore, you need to review it to make sure it is consistent with your brand and your companies’ core values. You don’t want to pay for generic content that mentions a competitor, links to a competitor’s Web site, or is filled with inaccuracies.
There are also companies that you can use to give you ideas of what type of content to create. I tried one that assured me they could provide me up to 100 ideas for articles related to mortgage topics. The joke was on me! It was a program that inserted a keyword into the same set of titles for everyone no matter what your industry (think Mad Libs with every answer being mortgage).
Here are some of the topics I received:
►Fifteen undeniable reasons to love mortgage
►Addicted to mortgage? Us too. Six reasons we just can’t stop
►Seventeen reasons why you should ignore mortgage
►Forget mortgage: 10 reasons why you no longer need it!
I can tell you it would not be easy to write these articles. As you can guess, these titles were generated by a program that substituted in the word “Mortgage.” This company wanted me to pay for these “content ideas.”
You have to be careful of all the social media marketing companies out there trying to sell products to professionals like loan officers who are often so busy pushing loans through the pipeline that they don’t have time to stay on top of social media trends.
You also need to be an active participant in your marketing at some level. If you hand over the keys to someone else, you might not be in control of where you end up! If you decide to let someone else handle it, you should pay close attention to the things they are posting for you. But again, there is no replacing the loan officer. Loan officers are licensed and are the only ones that can talk about rates and programs so if you get a good marketer that makes the phone ring or gets a conversation going you have to be ready to be engaged with customers.
“Business engagement positions you as the expert in the eyes of others which lead to referrals,” according to Eric LaFleur, branch manager at Mortgage Equity Partners. Social media creates new opportunities to get in front of a whole new audience from the comfort of your very own office!
Organic versus paid advertising is a different discussion. We would all love it if organic (non-paid) advertising worked, and it does to some degree. I have heard that only 10 percent of your followers or friends ever see a post you make on Facebook due to algorithms. If that is the case and you really want to know who is seeing your posts and who is engaging with them, then you have to pay to play. Facebook Ad Manager is a great way to create ads and track their effectiveness. But, you have to put your credit card down, and you have to set realistic expectations. If you expect to get 100 percent qualified leads immediately, you are going to be disappointed. It is a process of trial and error to develop the right message, to design the best graphic, and to cultivate your ideal target audience. But, once you do, it proves to be a very effective method of lead generation.
“With the advent of Millennials entering the buying sphere, we find ourselves relying more and more on social media. This is undoubtedly the best way to reach them,” said David Holding, northeast regional sales manager for Mortgage Equity Partners.
And, after Millennials is a new group that will have never known life without social media or life without an iPhone. We have to be ready for them as well.
“For companies to be successful in the future, they have to embrace social media and continue to invest resources in all aspects of technology,” said Holding.
Let’s hope that we can come up with the correct balance of customer contact and non-personal relationships because social media is here to stay and you can love it or hate it, but it is the way to do business today and into the future.
This article originally appeared in the July 2019 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.