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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2017

Master Online Interactions

Follow these steps to develop more business through social media

r_2017-03_spot_CioniWith winter ending, mortgage companies begin turning their attention toward the spring buying season and new business-development efforts. With millennials poised to make an imprint on the housing market, many mortgage professionals have put social networking on their marketing to-do lists this year.

Indeed, growing your business with social media is a smart idea — but it only works if you have a plan. Achieving success in social media can be as simple as following a four-step plan.

You should have clearly defined goals to define exactly what you are looking to achieve. You also will need tools for measuring and monitoring your progress toward those goals. You will want an effective means of engaging your audience that builds trust and portrays you as the most-qualified mortgage expert in the area. And you will want to make sure your marketing and social media are consistent.

Identify goals

Before beginning any business-development effort, it’s important to determine your goals. Social media is no different. Do you want to focus on bringing new leads to the funnel? Are you looking for more business referrals? Would you like to have a greater online presence with more testimonials or industry references? Multiple goals are great, but you should pursue just one goal at a time, at least until you are comfortable working on multiple goals and measuring those efforts.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, decide how you will monitor the progress toward that goal. Will you use an outside vendor or will you manually track the progress in-house? Either direction is fine, especially if you have in-house staff to help you. If you do it yourself, you’ll need to decide how you will keep track of results.

Before you get started, take baseline measurements of how your social media marketing is currently performing — if, in fact, it is performing at all. Then, set up a schedule of how often you’ll generate progress reports and who should receive them. Determine what social media outlets you’ll concentrate on, and which offline media to use to support your efforts. If you are running a Facebook ad campaign, for example, why not combine it with an e-mail campaign? Be sure these lists of outlets are cohesive, and include them in the reports.

Monitor progress

Monitoring social media marketing requires a three-fold approach: Track yourself, your competition and your market. Monitor yourself by finding out what clients, consumers, employees and referral partners are saying about you online. What is the public perception of your business? Keeping track of yourself and your company can help head off issues like online complaints and can help grow your presence and business when you share good reviews and comments.

You also want to watch what your competition is doing online. How do they handle their social media presence? What are they advertising? How do they respond to comments? What do you see that is working for them? Learn from their behavior — good and bad — and brainstorm ways that you can do better.

The most successful mortgage professionals on social media come out from behind their keyboards and help potential clients.

Lastly, it’s important to monitor the market. Potential customers are out there looking online for answers about mortgages, moving, real estate, buying fixer-uppers and other topics. They may be looking for advice, education or just the lowest rate. Follow these questions and conversations. Perform “hashtag” searches to find popular keywords you can consider using. Follow the accounts of the most active online Realtors and offer to answer some of the questions their clients ask. If you are using a system to help with monitoring or reporting, you can set it up to capture keywords used in specific mortgage-related questions.

Be consistent

An effective social media campaign should be able to stand on its own, but also meld with traditional media and advertising. A cohesive look and message across all platforms and departments, including social media, is essential. Inconsistent marketing, on the other hand, will make you look amateurish and does not help build trust.

With social media in particular, you should be consistent in terms of execution. Consistency is paramount when building an audience on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Having different “voices” in posts can confuse and even alienate your audience.

Many mortgage professionals take a hands-on approach to social media and post everything themselves. Others place their assistants in charge of social media. There also are software tools that automate social media posts. These can be overused, however. Plus automated tools cannot do the important work of engaging with your audience.

Engage effectively

Many companies believe that just posting articles on social media is enough, but it’s not. Social media is social. Without follow-up support and audience engagement, an article is just an article. The most successful mortgage professionals on social media come out from behind their keyboards and help potential clients, online and in person.

One of the best ways for originators to grow their business is through “educational giving.” Basically, this is giving away your expertise with no expectation of getting anything in return. You could create a multimedia campaign through social media to educate consumers about a certain topic, for example. Maybe you could focus on what millennials should do to prepare for buying their first home.

Short educational videos that answer specific questions can be used on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your website. They can even play in your office lobby on a flat screen TV or tablet. Be sure to include your marketing and customer service departments — and even your front desk — in your plans. They all have a stake in your success and should know what you’re trying to achieve.

Free educational seminars that address niche audiences such as veterans or seniors can be cross promoted anywhere these groups are likely to see them. Both Twitter and Facebook have audience-targeting tools you can use to reach wider groups. Also, remember to send e-mail blasts to past clients and referral partners who may work with those niche consumers.

Another way to engage with your audience is by becoming a resource on LinkedIn. Join groups related to mortgage lending and answer questions posted in the group. Many people online are looking for answers and will want to start a discussion with people who show they know what they are talking about.

With a plan, consistency and the willingness to give freely, you can become the go-to expert in your market. Borrowers want to do business with the go-to person. The more you give and the more you educate, the more borrowers will seek you out.

Last word

Be cautious about third-party social media marketing tools. Plenty of “shiny” products that may or may not make social media easier will come out this year. These include auto-posting tools that are designed to make it look like you are not auto posting. Some of these tools may be useful, but remember that nothing tops adding a personal touch and providing something tangible to potential clients. This goes for offline interactions as well as online.

The bottom line is that social media should be an extension of who you are as a person, not who you want people to think you are. If you make yourself consistently available and show sincerity and a willingness to help, borrowers will undoubtedly take you up on your offer.


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