A loan officer’s best friend should be their real estate partners…no that’s not a typo, you read that right. The savvy loan officer understands the value of this trusted relationship. Real estate agents seem to have more quickly grasped the concept that social media is the best way to expand your message with minimal time and cost. As a result, they have built meaningful relationships and increased visibility to a broader audience, faster than many of us in the mortgage industry.

However, what might happen if the loan officer decided to shamelessly borrow some of the successful strategies their real estate partners were using to acquire those valuable leads directly? Let’s take a closer look at exactly what some real estate agents are doing with social media to generate leads and increase business opportunities, and see what might work for loan officers.

1. Traditional Engagement via Social Media

Hopefully you have an established Fan Page as your business hub on Facebook as an easy way to increase traffic and visibility with potential leads. Even if you don’t have a Fan Page, many of you are on Facebook and see at least some interactions and posts with past clients and referral partners. Have you considered using this mass market social media site to simply learn more about your existing customers? You could still take action in a traditional manner and build valuable relationships, which can lead to increased referral traffic.

Therefore, consider using Facebook to connect with customers who you have worked with in the past. It allows insights into their personal lives, milestones and events which you can use as opportunities to reach out with a note, flowers or a bit of perfectly timed content that keeps you top-of-mind and leaves a positive impression. This concept is not exclusive to Facebook. Twitter in particular, through mobile notifications, allows you to be notified each time a Twitter user tweets. Consider putting those key customers on notifiers and stay informed with what’s going on in their lives through the tweets they share publicly.

2. Think Local First

I am a huge advocate of minimal time, maximum value, and so are real estate agents. That’s why adopting the strategy of focusing social media efforts to a localized area, say a 75-mile radius, can be advantageous. You’re able to create more meaningful content and build stronger relationships with a higher valued audience, by staying local with your social media posts.

If you blog, consider writing about local trends you are seeing in the finance, mortgage or housing industries. In addition to sharing tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates that speak to the national events that affect an industry, try sharing news about events that are more regional, more personalized to your audience. Don’t just talk shop; talk shopping! Eating, running, whatever. A post about a new store opening up in the community or upcoming 5K run shows how connected you are to the community you serve. This can lead to increased engagement, visibility and a better response rate.

3. Be Useful

Social media is not about promoting a product you have. Sure you can do that once in awhile if you’ve earned the opportunity. It seems real estate agents understand the value of being useful. If you are continually useful to a segment of the population, chances are that segment may call on you in the future for the services in which you are an expert. Loan officers should follow the same thought process and start sharing expertise on topics related to the mortgage industry, securing a loan, homeownership questions, etc.

Quora, LinkedIn and Reddit are great places to hang out and provide advice to a community. For example, questions like this on Quora offer an opportunity to share regional expertise. Doing so lets members of the community know you are an expert in specific areas of interest, nationally, regionally and locally. No need to advertise or promote your services. If the advice, insights and answers you provide to the community are strong enough, the leads will come to you via your established profile page on each of these social media platforms.

4. Create Value

In an era where digital marketing is ever increasing, there is nothing more valuable than creating your own sound, well-written and insightful content. Of course, being an expert in your industry, this would be a great opportunity to craft content that you find helps your audience solve a problem , improve performance of a job or increases efficiency. Topics are endless, you simply have to ask the right questions or listen to what is being asked by key audiences.

Social media is a great avenue to gather this data. Consider using Google search, Facebook, Quora, Twitter, Google alerts or LinkedIn to find out what some of the top inquiries are that relate to your industry. Some topics that come to mind include: information about tax breaks for homeowners, new homeowner tips, money saving tips, lawn or garden care information, interior design ideas, and DIY tutorials. Once you have decided on a few, write content that addresses an aspect of this inquiry or idea. Finding a niche in your industry allows for the content to be shared more broadly and digested by a larger audience.

For example, sharing a blog post to Triberr can allow for others to read and respond to your content. More importantly, members of the community can share your blog with their audience. It is a great place to network and build relationships around the content you have created. Not interested in Triberr? The same principles apply on LinkedIn and via your Facebook Fan Page or a Facebook group. The goal should be to identify the segment you want to engage, and share your content where they are located.

5. Schedule the Content

One of the primary excuses I hear about using social media is the time commitment. That’s probably why real estate pros know how to schedule the content they create or curate. This allows them to share, engage and influence customers and potential prospects, while maintaining a normal working schedule. Building relationships online via social media does not have to be a full-time job. And if you don’t have time to write a blog post, you can still curate content you find interesting and schedule it out via social media.

One of the most popular social media schedulers is Buffer. Give them a try and start saving time on your social media efforts. In addition to scheduling content, you can also see what your most popular posts are on a specific platform. This will help you better understand what resonates with your audience on a given platform.

These are just a few ways real estate agents are taking advantage of social media and working to find and build valuable relationships that can translate into business opportunities. Loan officers can follow suit and try these suggestions to help build powerful relationships. Or check out this blog post to learn which apps can increase mortgage business. Remember to be authentic and provide value.

If you really want to take your efforts to another level, check out the MortgageMapp app. It provides ready-to-use mobile apps for loan officers and real estate agents. The tool is customizable to include your face, contact info, mortgage calculator complete with MGIC MI rates, mortgage rate trends and more. All totaled the apps have been tapped on over 3 million times by consumers. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind in a mobile-centric world

Ben Smidt, MA

Ben Smidt - Former MGIC Digital Strategy Manager

Ben Smidt served as MGIC’s Digital Strategy Manager. He led corporate development and management of MGIC's digital marketing strategy across the enterprise. This included establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company's digital and social media marketing efforts. His primary goal is to increase brand awareness and improve user experience (UX). Additional responsibilities included PPC budget strategy and management of ad spend.

In addition to the insurance industry, Ben has a combined 10 years of experience in computer software, education and publishing industries. His focus has always remained in the area of education and digital marketing for media and technology.

He holds an MA from Marquette University in media channel effectiveness and digital communications, as well as a BS from UW-Madison focused in communications. He resides with his wife, daughter and son in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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