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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2018

Harness the Power of Social Media

Mortgage originators can bolster their brand by beaming their message directly to borrowers

Harness the Power of Social Media
 

Percentage of U.S. adults using social media sites:

Source: Pew Research Center

■ 73% on YouTube

■ 68% on Facebook

■ 35% on Instagram

■ 29% on Pinterest

■ 27% on Snapchat

■ 25% on LinkedIn

■ 24% on Twitter


At first, maybe social media was just some new thing that youngsters and adolescents were using for fun. Social media, however, has grown into so much more. It’s TV, newspapers, a community town hall, a messaging platform and more, all wrapped into one. People go there to consume information, share stories and make connections.

Facebook surpassed more than 2.2 billion monthly active users this year. For reference, Instagram has 800 million users and Twitter has 330 million. As you might guess, 18- to 24-year-olds lead social media usage, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. That said, 68 percent of all U.S. adults use Facebook, even more use YouTube (73 percent), and large numbers use Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and all of the other social media sites.

It’s clear that people’s eyes are on their phones, their fingers are scrolling down social media feeds, and their minds are consuming information from friends, brands and media companies alike. If you want to get someone’s attention, social media is an essential way to do just that.

More and more of today’s homebuyers are seeking a digital-first experience. Consequently, it is becoming ever more important for mortgage originators to leverage social media to cement their digital presence and generate leads.

Create your brand

Social media’s billions of users include friends, brands, media companies and even other mortgage originators, all of which are competing for that next homebuyer’s attention. With social media, originators first need to establish their personal brand, allowing them to differentiate themselves and separate from the pack, so that they become valuable, memorable, relatable and trustworthy.

Factors that impact personal branding include your story, how to tell it and the tone to use. For instance, maybe you’re the mortgage originator that’s modernizing homebuying. You bring that story to life by sharing comparative stories of what loan origination was like when you first started your career and what it’s like now. You might use an excited tone that can’t wait for the newest software update to come out or maybe you employ a compassionate tone that seeks to make borrowers feel understood.

Conducting research helps define your personal brand and your niche on the social media landscape. See what other mortgage professionals are saying and doing. See what real estate agents are posting. Identify what makes you different and how to stand out. At the same time, check out what types of posts produce a lot of engagement — likes, comments, shares — and what accounts have a lot of followers. This allows you to see what types of content works and gives you an idea of what to work toward.

The personal branding criteria may seem like more work than you accounted for, but it will pay dividends and drive better results. Personal branding shapes content, and in social media, content is king (or queen).

Think about social media content like TV shows. You don’t watch “Shark Tank” because you like the ABC network; you watch it because you like the TV show — the content. The same holds true for social media. People won’t follow you just because they like originators or are buying a home. They follow you because they enjoy consuming the content you post. When deciding the parameters for good content, think back to why you watch certain TV shows. You might watch the news because it’s informational, a talk show because it’s relevant and trendy, or a sitcom or drama because it’s compelling or entertaining. Keep that in mind when creating content: Consider what people want to consume and why.

Content is king

Perhaps you’re trying to be informational and provide insight on the housing market. Thus, you might go to a popular housing-market media site, find an article relevant to homebuyers and share it on social media with a one-sentence comment. Or maybe you take a video of a tour through one of your affiliate real estate agent’s listings and post it with a caption saying, “Like this house? See if you can get pre-qualified.”

Content drives traffic, and thus quality trumps quantity. It’s better to post fewer times with good content than inundate your followers’ feeds with meaningless content. While not posting enough thwarts the creation of a strong social media presence, posting too much can deter followers.

Posting on Instagram and Facebook one or two times per day will yield results while preventing over-posting, but originators can remain relevant while limiting their posts to two or three times per week. These platforms do not deliver content chronologically. They deliver content based on user interest and what its algorithms deem what the user wants to see the most, which can be based on behavior such as liking a post, following a page or viewing a video. (Note that Facebook owns Instagram.)

Thus, posts have a longer lifetime. While LinkedIn users can remain relevant only posting once or twice a week (or even less), Twitter is the complete opposite. The way in which the Twitter feed works, content becomes irrelevant faster. Thus, people can post on Twitter from three times per day to 15 or more without inundating followers.

By implementing calls-to-action, originators can drive more website traffic, generate more leads and close more loans.

Not only are U.S. adults on social media, but they’re using it often: 74 percent of Facebook users visit daily, compared to 63 percent of Snapchat users, 60 percent of Instagram users and 46 percent of Twitter users. That said, originators can capitalize on peak times of social media usage.

Generally, people flock to social media in the morning — perhaps on their commute, during lunch breaks and in the evening after dinner. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide their own analytics platforms, which reveal helpful information such as which posts received the most impression or likes, and peak times of follower social media activity. Free platforms like TweetDeck and Hootsuite allow you to pre-schedule posts, which relieves pressure and ensures that your posts go out at precise, appropriate times.

Rules of engagement

Establishing a social media presence constitutes more than just posting. To maximize your social media presence, you need to engage, which means to comment on and like others’ posts and even share or retweet.

This exposes you to a larger audience. If you repost or tag a company with 1 million followers, for instance, you can get exposed to those 1 million people. It also positions you alongside that company. That said, you must be careful and decisive about what brands and social media personalities you want to align yourself with.

Other ways to expand your social reach include using hashtags and geotags. Just like engaging with other people’s posts exposes you to their audience, hashtags and geotags expose you to common themes and trending topics. More than any other site, Twitter operates as a news generator. Thus, it highlights content for users according to what’s trending. People latch onto these trends with hashtags, like using “#DoddFrank” when news is circulating about congressional or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau efforts aimed at regulatory rollbacks. People use geotags, for example, when they’re attending a conference and want to latch onto the immense amount of buzz stemming from the venue.

So, what’s the return on investment from using social media? What’s the benefit from all the time you invest in social media? It’s easy with today’s digital-first homebuyer. By implementing calls-to-action, originators can drive more website traffic, generate more leads and close more loans. Calls-to-action include linking back to your website or even a pre-qualification application.

•  •  •

Social media is to digital mortgages as phone calls are to traditional mortgages. By leveraging social media, originators harness a platform with billions of users. Moreover, originators will lead the industry’s transition to digital as they augment their digital-mortgage platforms.


 


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