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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   January 2012

4 Steps to Mastering Social Media

Gear up your online marketing this year

Social media has become the standard for online marketing, and mortgage brokers and originators who are asking if and how their company should use it may already be behind. Much of the competition is already on their way to social media dominance.

There is a difference between using social media and mastering it, however. Many companies have yet to take advantage of all the opportunities social media presents. Brokers and originators who follow the following four steps can get up to speed in the social media realm and succeed there.

1. Make a policy

Your social media policy should be tied in with your employee handbook and clearly state what is appropriate for social media use on company time and through company-created accounts.

The policy should state that what the company sets up is to be used solely for the professional benefit of the company, not for personal updates. Employees should regard anything they post on behalf of the company as something they are saying on national television.

In addition, create guidelines for content, like: 

  • Don’t spam.
  • Be authentic. 
  • Do not plagiarize.
  • Provide value to connections.
  • Get input from all levels of the company. 

Many companies have created policies that deny employees access to social media sites at work, however, this could foster resentment. It may be more effective to write a formal policy and educate employees on appropriate social media use for professional purposes.

2. Create a plan

You may ask what the return on investment of social media is, and there is no short or easy answer to that. Social media marketing is not just about leads — it’s about online reputation, influence, engagement with clients, drip marketing, public relations, recruiting and engaging high-quality referral partners.

"Think of your social media plan as part of your broader communication strategy to current customers, potential customers, and partners and vendors."

To take advantage of all this requires a thought-out strategy, so set goals and objectives just like you would for anything else in your business. Get buy-in from employees and authorize someone to be accountable for meeting deadlines and goals.

Think of your social media plan as part of your broader communication strategy to current customers, potential customers, and partners and vendors. Social media can be used to communicate effectively with these three groups for a small amount of time and attention.

3. Use professional accounts

Whether you know it or not, an immediate impression is formed about your company when people interact with you or your staff members on social media. Creating a professional impression goes a long way toward showcasing your expertise and commitment.

Having an inexperienced employee or a friend set up your company’s account is a mistake. Professional accounts are not a luxury. The more pride you take in your social media appearance, the more you and your staff will want to show them off. Customers will compare your accounts to those of your competitors — and you don’t want to suffer in comparison.

4. Have dedicated staff

To take full advantage of social media, you may need someone dedicated to the task. The faster you can find competent, reliable professionals to assist you with your social media marketing efforts, the sooner you will realize the benefits of their knowledge.

If you can’t hire someone full-time, there likely are people among your staff who already enjoy social media and would like to spend more time on it. Encourage them, but don’t let them go overboard. Leverage interns and recent college graduates. You also may want to hire a consultant to train staff and create an action plan. As your company gets more involved in social media, set a goal to hire a full-time social media marketer by the end of the year.

Creating a comprehensive social media plan and finding dedicated staff may soon be essential for all mortgage brokers and originators. As you implement these steps, remember that social media is a communication platform, and the more productive conversations you develop with customers, potential customers and partners, the better off your business will be.


 


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