Making the most of social media is something that can leave many business people and traditional marketers scratching their heads.
However, the potential it provides to reach new customers and build interactive relationships with business contacts means that to dismiss its use in any capacity is the business equivalent of an own goal – even if it does seem quite scary.
- Twitter has more than 200m users worldwide
- LinkedIn has more than 120m registered users
The trick with social media is to ensure the best return for your investment by making a little effort go a long way.
That means following one of the fundamental rules of marketing – making sure your product or message is promoted in the right place to the right audience.
There is undoubtedly a need for mortgage expertise in the current climate, with social media fast becoming the easiest way to make contact with a potential client.
An internet search is now the standard way to begin looking for any service provider, from a plumber to a mortgage broker. Bearing this in mind, mortgage brokers need to look at boosting their online profile and search rankings to attract new clients.
- A recent survey of more than 600 intermediaries by one of HML’s clients found that one in five say over half of the clients they saw in the last three months were speaking to an adviser for the first time.
To grab your share of consumers new to the mortgage broker market, we have put together some tips on using social media to help boost your online profile and appearance in searches:
- Link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account and include a hyperlink to your website on both accounts
- Include key search terms such as ‘mortgage broker’, ‘experienced’ and your location
- Update regularly with relevant content
- Run any blogs through your website or, if you use an external platform like WordPress, clearly make a link between the two so the two sites can be easily connected by potential clients
- If you are writing about a popular subject on Twitter (e.g. PPI) use the hash tag function
Remembering to update Twitter is a state of mind and does not come easily straight away, but social media is a long game.
If you follow people, magazines or organizations in the industry, the chances are they will follow you back. This can help build your following.
Having plenty of followers on Twitter or connections on Linked In can make you look good, but view your connections on LinkedIn as your professional currency – do not connect with people for the sake of it as they will just steal your contacts.
From a B2B perspective, the best way to view social networking in the beginning is as an extension of the networking you already do.
In my role, I have met plenty of people in the mortgage industry and find that Twitter and Linked In are the best methods for keeping in touch.
It can also be a good conversation starter when you do meet again “I saw your blog on..” or “I see you’re a member of x group on LinkedIn”.
Link with your contacts and you will be surprised at mutual connections, while joining industry relevant groups gives you a manageable amount of information from the industry to digest.
However, an important caveat for involvement in social media is that tweets or blogs stick.
Once they are out in the open, they are published and you cannot necessarily delete them.
As with any marketing activity, make sure you bear in mind the FSA’s Financial Promotions rules.
- If you write as if the compliance team is your audience, you will not win any awards for creative writing, but bear them in mind all the same
- People value professionalism – be concise in your activity, but keep your grammar and punctuation intact and do not slip into text message style
At HML, we use social media to direct traffic to our website, where all our propositions sit, and it is easy for you to do the same.
As part of a joined up strategy, we are creating blogs, news and comments and then linking to them through Twitter and LinkedIn.
In a world where people are being flooded with communication and promotion, it is important to give yourself as many opportunities as possible to reach your target audience and get your messages to them.
This way, we know that the people we are connected to already have an interest in HML and are likely to click through to read the information, and we are reaching new audiences when these posts are re-tweeted.
New contacts that we make can also get a steady stream of quality fresh content, because, as our PR team will tell me, it is all about creating a positive first impression.
If you are a self-employed broker starting out in social media:
- look around and see what your competitors are up to
- use LinkedIn for B2B and Twitter or blogs for B2C activity
- try to commit 15 minutes a day to post your news or thoughts or link to a story or blog that has caught your eye (the Mortgage Solutions Twitter feed is a good place to start)
- include all your online identities on things like your email footer, website, business card and letterhead