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NMP Magazine: The Importance of Social Media by Ashley Lubey

  • July 21, 2015

The financial industry remains a mystery to many. The intricacies paired with the ebbs and flows of the market mystify those who have a difficult time grasping how numbers, rates, bonds, and the like all rely heavily on one another to make our nation’s economy continue ticking. The common borrower uses references in order to get started on the right foot when beginning their home search. But as we have seen in recent years, borrowers have grown increasingly more wary and hesitant when it comes to jumping into the housing market to begin with. The transparency that is needed to soothe borrowers’ stress and concerns still eludes the housing and mortgage industry. Luckily, consumers as a whole, as well as many other industries, have embraced a phenomenon. It could be that social media is the key to the success of the mortgage and housing industry.
 
People are curious about finances and achieving success in this realm. They want to succeed when it comes to saving money, building equity, and investing. But where do they start? The housing industry, unfortunately, lost the trust of the average citizen when it crashed after a prosperous few years. Similar housing booms are now met with a side-eye. Claiming a stable market or low rates is not fooling the consumer into believing and trusting this time around it will be different. Try as it might, the industry fails to communicate effectively with many borrowers.
 
Focusing on numbers might be how your brain works. The numbers and jargon in the field may make sense to you but for many it is part of a world in which they have never been fully submerged. Take a look at other companies and industries. Yes, the mortgage industry is chalk full of regulations, laws, and disclaimers. But what we need to learn is how to effectively balance these with an engaging campaign on social media. While it’s true that housing will always be a necessity for people, how we portray our services can greatly affect consumers’ perceptions of the housing market and how business is done. And thereby where they do business. The crash of the late 2000s really did a number on the market’s reputation. Now, as the economy stabilizes and housing begins to improve, it is still an incredible challenge to convince many potential borrowers that it is worth their money to invest in property.
 
To top it all off, we are now targeting an audience unlike any other in the past: millennials. While it may come as a shock to you, millennials are the most connected generation ever. From mobile devices and constant sharing of information, the onslaught of news and constant connectedness continues to stump many in older generations. This generation is known for thorough research and using referrals more than ever before. So as they begin their journey to homeownership, it is only natural for them to turn to connections and their well-engrained researching skills to get the answers they need for financial success. And where does this begin? With the connections they have cultivated on social media.
 
A huge percentage of millennials were graduating college and entering the workforce when the market crashed. Many saw their parents deeply affected by the recession. Most were directly impacted when it came to their inability to obtain a decent job after college. With this experience still sitting tight in the back of their minds, jumping whole-heartedly into the homebuying process is not necessarily at the top of the list. But that is not to say this cannot be changed. The focus simply needs to shift to a medium where both parties are able to find common ground and engage in a mutually beneficial conversation.
 
It has been made evident that the way of technology will continue advancing. Does this mean your mailed postcards no longer work? Not necessarily. But they are not an updated form of marketing and are less likely to start the conversations you need to really improve your business. They will most likely not garner as much attention as you may have experienced in the past. The industry has dug its heels in long enough. It is time to realize the importance of social media in the housing and mortgage industries.
 
Social media has the power to connect people through conversation. It should be used as a tool to push out information and engage with others similarly interested in the topic. Now while it may be appealing to simply start up a profile, share a couple articles, and claim you are active on social media, this is not how the tool should be used. Marketing experts spend hours each week carefully monitoring profiles and connections to learn how to best engage with them. If you are connected with older generations, consistently talking and posting about first time homebuying options will not have the same impact as if you were aiming those topics to the younger generations. Being relevant will separate you and your business from those who do not take the time to truly develop their social media presence.
 
Social media is often mistaken as a “set it and forget it” task. But this mentality will not get you the results you could be seeing when properly using these tools. It is important to be an active member of these platforms to truly reap the benefits. This does not mean flooding your feed with every article that mentions housing. This means being picky and taking the time to search for the information you believe your audience will find the most useful. In doing this, you are increasing your chances of a potential client reaching out to you for business. Some of you are probably gawking at this; shaking your heads at how unrealistic it sounds to take on yet another marketing task. But would you do it if it meant another closed loan this month? What about an increase in your overall business this year? Social media has the power to greatly influence your audience and your business. Skipping this opportunity to stick with your postcards that end up in the recycle bin or used as kindling is your choice. To truly grow and enhance your business, use the tools that are proven to expand your reach and elevate yourself in today’s ever-evolving world.
 
Does social media require extra work, thought, and research? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Think about some campaigns that have “gone viral” recently. These went viral because of social media. It is because it struck a chord with the intended audience who then felt the urge to share it as widely as possible to their respective connections. So yes, it is worth it. Maybe your campaign will not be seen globally, but make it your goal to accurately convey the messages your audience needs to hear. Mortgage is a mystery to many, especially first time homebuyers. And as these borrowers enter the market in droves, it is up to you to stand out and be able to provide the service and information they require and desire. Now is the time that we, as an industry, begin moving forward. While TRID is a step in the right direction in recognizing that disclosure forms need to be more “user friendly,” so must be the way we originally reach out to clients. Let’s make our disclosures and our rules easy to understand while also providing us the opportunity to uniquely connect with our country’s citizens. Social media will provide the platform we seek to deliver our message that the American Dream of homeownership is still desirable and can be attainable by all.  
 
By Ashley Lubey
 

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