Do you ever get those solicitation emails from social media gurus? The ones that invite you to pay big bucks for a course that will teach you how to market your business on every social channel?
The problem is that most of these gurus can’t tell a rent roll from a dinner roll. They think seasoning is what you put on steak and a balloon is what you get on your birthday.
In other words, they aren’t familiar with the mortgage industry. The thing is, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide a real opportunity for brokers to expand their network and grow their business. But you won’t get the most out these channels by adopting generic networking strategies.
That’s why I decided to interview our very own National Sales Manager, Mike Boggiano. Mike has decades of experience in the commercial mortgage industry and a huge social footprint. His advice is a great resource for any mortgage professional looking for social media tips they can actually use.
This is the first installment of a 3-part series. Read on to learn how to use social media to rock your business!
Let’s start with the basics. Why should mortgage brokers use social media platforms?
I believe brokers should incorporate social media into their marketing mix for three reasons. First, it’s a cheap, cost-effective way to reach a larger, even national audience. You can be a broker in New York and connect with a lender anytime and anywhere in the country.
When you advertise in print, for example, you’re limited by a number of factors. You get a basic idea of the publication’s distribution, but you never really know who’s looking at your ad and where they do business.
Compare that to social media, where you can easily identify and engage with attorneys, real estate agents, and any other referral source from any state in the union.
Second, social media services are a great resource to research and connect with mortgage lenders. In the past, brokers and lenders got to know each other primarily through trade shows and conferences. But you can only attend so many events each year. And it can be difficult to have a good conversation with a vendor in a convention hall while loud music is playing and hundreds of other attendees are having discussions of their own.
Social channels minimize the distractions and allow you to establish rapport with lenders and prospective borrowers.
You can engage with potential business partners directly or monitor their social presence to get a feel for how they operate.
Finally, social media platforms give your potential business partners a chance to get to know you before you actually meet. If you commit to building and maintaining professional-quality social profiles, anyone who Googles you before your initial meeting should come away with a positive impression. And let’s face it, they will Google you!
These are some great points, but let me add some peer pressure. Why should you use social media platforms? Because everyone is doing it. The Pew Research Center reports that 65% of all US adults use social networking sites these days. Your potential clients and referral sources are using social media to connect with others. It’s time for you to join the party.
What social media platform do you feel provides the best fit for mortgage brokers?
I believe brokers who only use one social platform are limiting themselves. The best social media strategies involve a combination of networks. I’ve seen mortgage professionals use all sorts of platforms, but I think you can achieve your networking goals by focusing on two of the biggest ones: LinkedIn and Twitter.
What do you like most about LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is my favorite social media service because it’s built to help me expand my network and it helps me manage my reputation. Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but few take advantage of everything the service offers.
For example, I’ve found that industry group pages are often the best places to make connections on LinkedIn. They’re also great for staying up-to-date on industry news and learning about the regulatory challenges other mortgage professionals face or the difficult deals they were somehow able to close.
What are some LinkedIn Groups you would recommend?
I think you can establish a well-rounded presence by joining groups that span several different areas of the mortgage industry. Groups should include national, state, and local organizations.
How can LinkedIn help you build your reputation?
LinkedIn lets me control the first impression others have of me. My profile features a recent photo, an up-to-date employment history, and a comprehensive list of my strengths. Anyone who doesn’t know me can look at my profile and get a good idea of who I am and how I can help brokers close more deals.
If you’re a broker, your profile is the best place to list the property types you specialize in and the types of commercial or residential deals you typically close. That alone makes LinkedIn a valuable tool for anyone looking to make new connections in their market.
Speaking of connections, you’ve been able to make nearly 3,000 on LinkedIn. Can you talk about a time when a LinkedIn connection eventually became a customer?
It actually happened just the other day. Part of my daily LinkedIn routine is to check to see who viewed my profile. I go through the list and take note of everyone’s job title and location. If I see a potential business partner, I’ll typically reach out and introduce myself.
Well, I was scrolling down and came across a mortgage broker who had just recently visited my page. I checked his location and found that he worked out of an area of the country I know pretty well. So I sent him an introductory message and asked if I could help him. It turns out he had a small-balance commercial deal but was struggling to find the right lender partner. We set up a phone call to talk about the deal and before you know it I was sending him a term sheet.
This certainly doesn’t happen every day but it does happen. Without LinkedIn there’s no way I would have ever met that broker.
That’s a great example of putting LinkedIn’s power to work for your business. With more than 400 Million users, LinkedIn is the ultimate online networking resource. In fact, Sales Benchmark Index found that consumers are five times more likely to meet with you if you’ve already connected on the platform.
If you have a profile but haven’t seen this type of success yet, take Mike’s advice and join mortgage industry groups. You’ll get instant access to a ton of potential business partners. Then do your best to engage with others and share meaningful content whenever you get the opportunity.
So, then how do you use Twitter?
Twitter isn’t as business-oriented as LinkedIn, but I still consider it to be an essential part of any social strategy. I mainly use Twitter to find and Retweet relevant mortgage industry articles. I also make it a point to follow the premier mortgage publications and associations. I’ve found that big news, such as interest rate movement or regulatory updates, create the most opportunities for engagement. By combining curated content from trusted sources and your own insight, your presence on Twitter can establish you as a mortgage industry expert.
Yes, Twitter isn’t just the platform you use to tell the world what cereal you ate for breakfast. According to Edison International, 42% of Twitter users use the service to learn about products and services.
But Twitter isn’t just useful as a branding tool. It’s also helpful if you’re looking to engage with a particular type of lender in the mortgage industry. You can search for commercial lenders, mortgage bankers, stated-income lenders, or any other variation and find a long list of Twitter users who fit the description. You can then check each company’s feed to see if they seem like a good fit for your borrowers.
The problem is that many Twitter users wait for others to engage with them. To find out how many of Twitter’s 307 million monthly users need your help, you’ll need to be the one who reaches out first. If you’re looking for a place to start, try using Twitter while you’re at your next industry trade show. The hosting organization usually creates a Twitter hashtag to bring all event-related tweets together in one place. Just add the hashtag to your tweet and join the conversation.
Do you personally think social media could ever replace the rest of your marketing efforts?
Social media is a great thing but it’s not the whole thing. You still have to attend trade shows, hold one-on-one meetings, go to conferences, join specific associations, and so on. Social media platforms allow you to leverage your time and engage with potential business partners across the country, but there’s still no substitute for face-to-face interactions.
Think of it this way: the connections you make on Linkedin and Twitter can get your foot in the door, but your actual personality, people skills, and expertise will get you through the doorway.
The next time you log on to your social media accounts, take some extra time and practice the tips Mike shared to expand your network and engage in new ways. And be on the lookout for the second installment of our series on social media. Mike will reveal the secrets to optimizing your profile descriptions and bios to get more attention from referral sources.
Mapi Pina is the Social Media Manager for Silver Hill Funding. She’s excited to show brokers how they can use social media to transform their marketing efforts.