This is one of the top challenges that plagues many in the mortgage industry and is no simple task. No matter how much you post, follow others, share others content and tell the world about your personal or business pages, the favor never seems to be returned with the same level of enthusiasm. You’re left wondering how the heck some have tens of thousands of followers while you sit at a modest 100 or so with the goal of hitting 200 by the end of the year.
You’re not alone. The fact is, there are many ways to build up your following on social media channels. I’m sure we can all agree however what’s most important is not the number of followers you have, but the quality. In other words, do they fit the demographic criteria of the people you really need to target for your business. So when I say “massive,” don’t confuse that to mean a lack of quality, but rather doing a whole lot better than you are now if your numbers are low.
To build a qualified audience, you need to know where your target demographic hangs out online, put a content strategy in place and execute on it. Finally, you need to leverage the social advertising platforms available to you on places like LinkedIn, Facebook and others to get more views from your target demographic outside of your current follower base. This final step requires you to spend some money, but it’s well worth it if you take the time to learn and become good at it.
Let’s talk about each one of these…
FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE
There are a lot of preconceptions about the audience for different social media platforms. The most common are that LinkedIn is for B2B marketing, Facebook is for B2C and Twitter is not a serious platform, except maybe for teens and celebrities.
It’s really time to put all these preconceptions aside and take a new look at things with an open mind. No matter who your target audience is, the vast majority of them will be found on the “big five.” Let’s take a brief look at each.
The Big 5 Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn: Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, having a great LinkedIn presence is a professional expectation now, not just for individuals but also on a corporate level. This means having an active business page. It’s great for building brand awareness and credibility among your peers and followers by sharing posts and promoting your own content. And, if you plan to grow as a company, it’s essential for recruiting purposes as well so prospective recruits can size up your company which they will do anyway before they apply.
Also, think about this…if you’re a retail or direct to consumer lender, aren’t
professionals a part of your target audience?
There are many consumer brands that are killing it on LinkedIn…Amazon, Target, Secret Deodorant and Starbucks just to name a few. You can target ads and posts to a specific geography and target people who work at companies within that geography by their titles and much more.
Facebook: Most dismiss Facebook as being only for B2C, but that could not be more incorrect. This is the strongest B2B channel for marketing next to LinkedIn.
Facebook has the most substantial usage of any age bracket, by income, education and location. It’s usage far outpaces any other platform. There is no way you can go wrong by leveraging Facebook for both B2B and B2C purposes. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling secondary marketing technology or tennis shoes, you can find your audience on Facebook.
Twitter: Since many of you are likely questioning the value of Twitter for building your following, here’s some demographic information to consider…
- 21% of all online American adults use Twitter
- 58% of them make over 50k/year
- 54% of them are 30+ years old
Also, consider these stats…
- 43% of business decision-makers use Twitter to explore new products or discover answers to their business challenges
- 73% of B2B brand mentions happen on Twitter according to a study by Brandwatch
Looking at these stats collectively, Twitter can be a great place to engage home-buyers and corporate decision-makers. They are at the right age, making good money and holding positions of decision-making authority…or at least influencing decisions.
YouTube: Online video continues to grow exponentially and YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. Also, have you noticed more videos coming up in Google searches?
As for demographic target, no need to worry…it has been around for over a decade and reaches over 80% of internet users across all generations and income levels. Therefore, your audience is here. Producing and promoting compelling videos will help you build your following.
Here are some key stats you should be aware of:
- 46 percent of YouTube users have incomes of over $75,000 including 9% over $150,000 so YouTube skews wealthy
Google+: This is an easy one. Google is the largest search engine and it’s only logical that Google has a soft spot for G+ users. Consider that…
- Everything you post on G+ is immediately indexed by Google which helps search engine results where it comes to keyword searches for what you do.
- When people “+1” your content (similar to a “like” on Facebook), this helps influence your search rankings.
Your audience may not be “hanging out” on Google Plus like on other platforms, but leveraging it for search engine rankings is a great way to drive people to your website or blog.
CREATE A CONTENT STRATEGY
We all know that content is at the core of any social media strategy. But what kind of content should you be creating or curating to build your audience?
The best way to think through this is to think logically about the path your prospects take as they go through the thought process and investigate home financing, the purchase of a new LOS, homeowner’s insurance or any other mortgage industry – related product or service. Your goal is to map the right content to each stage of the investigative process. This investigative process is what’s called the “buyer path.”
Mapping Content to Each Stage of the Buyer Path
Through content mapping, you’re providing the right content at the right time to your target audience. If it’s great content, it will drive likes, shares and more followers.
Here’s an overview of the 4 basic stages of the buyer path and content ideas for each…
Awareness: If you’re going to have a shot at being selected, you must build awareness with your audience. So how do you do this? Write amazing blog posts that can be broken up into pieces of great, informative tidbits that can then be used on social media platforms to entice people to click through and learn more. These can be posted as social media updates and even as targeted ads that people will see while they’re on their social accounts.
Research: When a problem is identified, the research for a solution begins! To assist the research phase, articles, video’s and blog posts to name a few can really help when you’re targeting the consumer. If you’re targeting a business persona, add to that Ebooks, webinars and SlideShare presentations as well.
Comparison: At this stage, people begin to narrow the list of companies they believe have an adequate solution. Therefore, it’s good to have items like testimonials (written or video), case studies, infographics…anything that helps your company stand out from the standpoint of “us vs. the other guy.”
Purchase: Your prospect has finally decided to buy your product, or apply for that mortgage! Who will they begin the process with? That final decision will be based upon product comparisons or any other detailed content they came across that gives them the feeling they’re making a good choice. This could include white papers, ebooks, instructional videos, mortgage program details on your site and much more. Consider the level of detail you would look for at this stage and then create it so it can be found online. This could include reviews on Google or Facebook as well.
Now of course, not everybody goes through all these stages in a deliberate fashion, but you get the idea. Simply put yourself in your prospects shoes and give them what you would want. If you do this, they will share it, like it, comment and more…and that’s what builds followers!
How do you keep your content interesting so that
people will follow you?
Many content-creators in the mortgage industry struggle with this. The amazing thing is that many don’t even know they struggle with it, except for the fact that they lack followers. But all you have to do is take a look at their blogs and what they post on Facebook or other places and what do you see? It’s all about them and their products. Boring. They’re not educating, they’re selling. Depending on the stage of the buyer path, people may well want to know about your new mortgage products, your technology, company or technology updates, etc. but you must get beyond that. If you don’t, you’ll be tuned out.
To keep your audience from reaching content fatigue, you should follow the rule of thirds:
- 1/3 should promote your company’s products, services, new programs and updates.
- 1/3 should be a combination of curated and original content that answers your audiences FAQ’s.
- 1/3 should be industry-related informative content that can tie in anything from pop culture to how the political or economic environment is affecting the industry, highlight new hires, best employee, awards you’ve won as a company and anything that communicates your culture and what you believe in.
The rule of thirds is what will keep your audience interested and coming back.
USE SOCIAL AD PLATFORMS TO INCREASE YOUR AUDIENCE SIZE
As a mortgage lender, you’re targeting homebuyers, referral partners, possibly branch acquisitions, new recruits (LO’s, processors, underwriters, etc.), relationships with mortgage brokers or correspondent lenders. If you’re offering any support services like title, flood, credit reports, compliance, loan origination technology, etc., then for the most part you’re probably targeting lenders.
Therefore, the primary social media platforms you will want to focus on would be LinkedIn and Facebook. Sure, there are others, but if you’re just starting out, hone in on just 1 or 2 platforms at first and expand from there as you develop your skills.
The first thing you need to understand with all the social platforms is that they are for-profit entities. As such, they all require a dedicated budget to work with effectively and promote your posts to a wide audience that fits with your demographic target. Without paid promotion, only a small percentage of your current followers are seeing your posts. The only way you get to build your following is if your followers “like” or share your content with their followers…a very slow way of building a following!
Recently, I read a great post in Jeff Bullas’ blog written by Kim Smith @contactkim11, a Content Consultant at GoodFirms. In her post entitled Organic Marketing Vs Paid Advertising: Who Wins The Traffic Game On Social? she discusses the pros and cons of organic and paid advertising within social venues. I encourage you to click through and read this post as it gives you a clear overview of when it’s appropriate to use organic vs. paid. It also reinforces the importance of paid if you are targeting a very specific demographic, which most of you are.
If you’re going to increase your following on social media platforms, it requires a combination of a great content mix, paid promotion and a strategy. The platforms provide some very good data to help you evaluate how things are working so you can make any changes and try new things on the fly as you learn. Don’t be afraid to experiment along the way, especially if you’re just starting out, to keep it fun and interesting for your readers!