“We go together like salt and pepper,” said no compliance/mortgage duo ever. If you’re in the mortgage business, you know exactly what this means. Since the advent of social media, compliance has been butting heads with mortgage professionals using social media to promote their business. While staying compliant on social media can be difficult, know it is possible for these two mortgage “Frenemies” to strike up a harmonious and productive relationship using just a few day-to-day practices.
Why the struggle?
Let’s start by taking a look at why there’s such an axe to grind between these two mortgage business essentials, and then review why they’re both important.
First, social media is risky. With many ever-changing social media platforms out there, it’s no wonder why social has some compliance teams thrown for a loop. While it’s challenging enough to keep up with all of the different options out there–Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr … the list goes on–it’s even harder to keep up with all the loan officers and the individual platforms they’re using. Then, add in keeping up on new and emerging platforms to stay ahead of your loan officers and marketing teams, and you can understand how hard it is to properly ensure compliance standards are met on each of these.
Secondly, there’s no question that compliance is in the eye of the beholder. What one compliance officer may find acceptable; another may not approve of. Different platforms also use different sets of rules and regulations, making it difficult to have a standard set of compliance rules that can simply blanket over each and every platform.
Finally add in everything our compliance teams already have on their plates, throwing the complications of social media risks into the mix has definitely contributed to the push/pull of the compliance/marketing relationship.
Why compliance is important
It’s important to first remember that compliance is not the enemy. Like the seemingly overbearing mother that forces the child to wear SPF 50 on a warm summer day, your compliance team also is here to protect you. They have your back, and are there to keep you and your company safe.
It’s also important not to forget the past. If you’ve been in the business for more than a decade, then you remember the ups and downs of the housing crisis; and then should understand the importance of compliance, while respecting what they do for lenders throughout the loan process along with using the tools and resources necessary to grow business.
With the advancement of technology, it may seem like compliance teams have, at times begrudgingly, accepted the importance of social media and how it can help loan officers grow their business. There’s no question why lenders have truly embraced social media due to its ability to nurture customers and further referral partner relationships, requiring them to develop a level of trust of their compliance and marketing teams to work hand-in-hand to ensure standards are met.
Why social media is important
Today, social media is no longer just for the kids, or something we do in our spare time for fun or to keep up with family and friends. It’s become a key source of communication, and is as common as the newspaper, radio or TV for news and information—maybe more! There’s no doubt it’s essential to your business’s success. Like realtor meetings, email campaigns or other daily sales practices, having and maintaining a strong social media presence is key to growing your brand and your business.
When used consistently and appropriately, social media platforms can be a wildly successful tool to help grow your pipeline and expand your customer base. Utilizing the platforms to build relationships with clients and referral partners, demonstrate social proof, credibility and mortgage expertise, and apply inexpensive advertising methods to expand your pipeline and push your name out there are just a few ways loan officers are successfully using social media.
You may be thinking that you don’t need social. You’ve got an established referral base, and you’re not “good” on social. Today, everyone needs a social presence because it gives you credibility. There’s no doubt that when your name is given to a potential client, their first instinct is to look you up. A solid Google presence with a list of five-star reviews from happy customers and a solid Web site and social media presence will establish you as a mortgage expert. If you’re not sure what they may be finding out about you, Google yourself and see. Then, work to update your info, or work with your marketing team to develop a strategy to begin posting good content right away. Don’t wait because your competitors sure won’t.
Compliance takes Facebook
You’ve probably seen recent news on compliance violations and discrimination against the social media giant we all know and love, Facebook. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has alleged that Facebook was offering advertisers the ability to market their businesses based on specific demographics including race, zip code, gender, religion and more–all of which is clearly a compliance “no-no.”
With major government agencies like HUD keeping an eye on social media and understanding its intricacies and capabilities, it’s important to embrace compliance now more than ever. It’s also important to work even more closely with your highly-synced marketing and compliance teams to ensure that your profiles, posts, and advertisements meet standards to safeguard your reputation.
Achieving harmony between the two
It’s vital to create a social presence that lives in harmony with your compliance and marketing teams. If you’re a loan officer, start on the path to a happy and successful synchronization between compliance and marketing by first doing a full inventory and review of your current social media sites and Google presence. Take advantage of both your compliance and marketing teams throughout this process to ensure your profiles aren’t missing key information like your logo, personal NMLS number, company NMLS number, Equal Housing Lender, any licensing info and more.
If you’re on the compliance/marketing side of things, make sure to do an audit of your own and create an editable Google Doc, Excel Spreadsheet, or shared folder that includes a list of all social media pages and profiles associated with your company. This will take some time and require consistent and thorough updating given personnel changes, but is necessary to keep track of to remain aware and ahead of your company’s online presence.
Once you have an inventory of your pages and they are approved as “compliant,” work with your marketing team to create a social strategy that is right for you and your business, then keep checking in with your teams along the way before going full throttle on any marketing idea or ads you’ve created on your own. Remember–they are the experts and when it comes to compliance, the mantra “better safe than sorry” always rings true.
Finally, continue to keep up on the latest trends with annual compliance training and review of your company’s social media/compliance rules and regulations to help protect you from violations.
The bottom line here is: Social media is important and compliance is important. A happy medium between the two is easy to achieve when you work together and entrust your online presence to dedicated professionals that are there to help you build your brand and grow your business in a safe and compliant standard.
Lauren Grove is social media strategist for Pewaukee, Wis.-based Inlanta Mortgage Inc. She may be reached by phone at (262) 510-6992 or e-mail LaurenGrove@Inlanta.com.
This article originally ran in the July 2019 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.