To be successful through social media, you need to understand that your competition is everyone on social media—not just real estate agents, other lenders or service providers. You’re competing against everyone who wants to be on the screen of a person that fits a particular psychographic or demographic profile. With that mindset, you can develop a strategy to make your presence something people want to see and share.
Social media can be effective advertising, but if that’s how you approach it, you’re doing it wrong. My goal is to give you some actionable ideas–whether you’re running social campaigns for a lender, or creating content for a one-person operation– to improve your presence, profile, and eventually, generate profit. Each won’t be applicable to everyone, but some of them will work for everybody.
For a social media program to be successful, it’s critical that you provide value that your intended audience wants. Think about what works in a social setting offline.
Focus On The Social
The person who only talks about themselves at a party isn’t very popular. People stay away from them, and they certainly won’t tell others to go speak with that person. Boring does not draw attention in social situations. People will eventually excuse themselves and not come back.
When you review your social media plans, review them from an outsider’s perspective. If the content wasn’t about your brand, would you care?
Your social media channels should give back. They should spark conversation, provide knowledge, humor or something else of value. Your strategy should not be one-sided. What’s in it for the person consuming it?
Basic Level Strategies
This one pertains to originators. Use the right handles. If I were an originator looking for organic referrals, I’d have profiles set up (these could be separate from your personal profiles) that tie back to what I do. For example, an originator could have @Name_Town_ Mortgage_Pro.
With these profiles ready on the major platforms, the next move is to become an active participant in the digital spaces that matter to your customers. These include locally-focused groups on Facebook, trending tags on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and active subs on Reddit.
Regularly engage in conversations online. What’s new with local restaurants, local sports teams, local whatever? Participants will see the handle and assume they know what you do for a living (@Name_Town_ Mortgage_Pro), and that will build awareness.
The goal isn’t to pepper these communities non-stop about how low rates are, or how you can help them afford the home of their dreams. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your career in the industry. It means you shouldn’t talk about it non-stop. Is someone lamenting about home pricing and how they’ll never be able to get a mortgage?
The exception here is LinkedIn, but the overall strategy remains the same. Provide value and shift your content to that audience. Post about trends and topics adjacent to the industry, and share content that your network may find interesting. Above all, hold back from asking every new connection if you can help them with a loan. That’s the wrong way to do it.
On the brand side, one low-hanging fruit many are missing is the organic amplification that can come from your internal stakeholders (aka employees).
One of the easiest things a brand can do is to take a “forced organic” approach to their social media presence. Do this by ensuring your team not only knows about your company’s social handles, but follows them. A quick company-wide email, or three, letting internal associates know about your brand’s new TikTok profile, and asking colleagues to follow it, isn’t asking too much.
After that, when it really matters, you should drive traffic to your social feed from both internal and external sources. I know for a fact that many in this industry aren’t doing this as much as we should. How can I tell?
As an easy example, National Mortgage Professional has been doing very insightful Mortgage Leadership Outlook interviews live on Facebook. These interviews feature notables from some of the majors in our space. Some of these companies have hundreds of employees, some a lot more. When I go to these feeds, I’m seeing a decent amount of video views, but not seeing hundreds of shares or likes. Why?
Content is king. For both the brand and the individual originator, bringing knowledge to the social media party can be of immense value.
Create content around what you wish the borrower knew going into the application process, or even better, what you wish they were thinking about a year before. Highlight mistakes unnamed borrowers made that have caused delays or worse. That new car, job change, unexplained cash deposit… you know what the issues are. Consider creating humorous scenarios or memes around the worst mistakes you’ve seen.
On a regional level, either through geo-targeted ads or posts by originators in their market, showcase examples for customers that would be of interest to specific segments. Script borrower storylines based on real-world scenarios, sharing this fictional borrower’s occupation, income, down payment, rate and the type of property they purchased. This would be great for areas where there’s a particular demographic subset with an active online presence, such as local military communities or regions with a high level of rentals and vacation homes.
Regardless of what your content is, be sure to use the right hashtags. Use hashtags the audience you want to engage with actually follows, not the tags you came up with that you wish they’d follow.
Dogs Are Instagram Gold
While we’re on the topic of content, remember, take the “me” out of social media and go beyond mortgages and housing. On the hyper-local level, this is where originators could be thriving by adding some color to their feed.
It’s a fact that dogs win Instagram. With that knowledge, consider making every third post or 12th post about your dog. Provide your followers with something to look at that’s not just about your brand or the industry. Solicit followers to nominate their mutt for “Dog Of The Day,” which will give them something to look forward to and increase engagement.
Even better, reach out to potential referral resources and ask if they have a dog. Tell them your strategy, and in return for a pic of their pooch, you’ll tag them and give a brief description of the owner. You now have a reason to make a call that didn’t involve asking for a referral or talking about how low rates are.
Hate dogs? Sounds strange, but if that’s the case, do you like food? Post pics from your favorite lunch locations or implement #RandomActsOfLunch, dropping food off at a different agent’s office each month.When you do make this post, ask in the caption what you should buy for the next #RandomActsOfLunch, and ask that they recommend an industry colleague to receive it by tagging them.
The goal is to create content that will attract others.
The advanced strategies, for the most part, will take either more time to implement, an increased spend or both.
On the time side, hand-to-hand combat is one of the best ways to get in front of customers and referral partners. Interact regularly, not occasionally. More is more.
If you have the budget for a consistent spend, then the options are nearly limitless. There are regional and national feeds from content curators that you can buy into, which may deliver huge returns if you execute right.
Look at your social media program the same way you would a new fitness regimen. Showing up at the gym is just the start. You may see some quick returns, but it’s going to take both planning and constant effort if you want to get into shape. You need to give it time.
And post more dog photos… trust me on that one.