The words social media tend to draw up the images of vacation photos and family updates. For many loan brokers, the idea of using it as a marketing and PR tool can seem absurd. And yet it is becoming more and more common in our industry every day. Understanding why this is, and how to use social media properly, can make it an essential asset for any firm.
Why is social media use growing and what are the risks?
Roughly 80 percent of the United States population is on some form of social media. Many companies are already using it as a key advertising tool. The financial sector has been hesitant in embracing that growth for a myriad of reasons, including regulations by the FINRA and SEC, and a difficulty in bridging the gap on the type of content which suits them best. However, these barriers are diminishing as social media grows and changes. Many firms are starting to see the benefit of direct contact that social media offers, and the way it has shifted our style of communication.
While the FINRA and SEC rules don’t apply to most loan brokers they are still useful to understand. Most importantly, these rules are navigable as long as broker understands two types of content: static content and interactive content. Static content is treated like traditional advertising and needs to receive approval by a principal of the agency, while interactive content is treated as traditional presentation, and simply requires archival, but not approval. However, tools like Hootsuite and other social media managers allow users to schedule posts, which makes pre-approval, flagging inappropriate posts and rerouting them much easier.
How to use social media to improve your business and client relationships.
The general rule for social media is to split what you post into the 3 separate categories: other people’s content, like news articles, your content, like firm updates or blog posts, and sales. As a loan broker, these categories change. Social media becomes an engagement tool, not an advertising one.
The firm and those employees who are using social media are given a voice and become brand ambassadors. This means that your goal is to establish expertise, not to make a sale. That expertise is then transferred into a following, which in turn turns into meetings with potential new clients and establishes a growth in clients.
The content chosen should thus be about presenting that expertise. Some possible ideas are:
- Blog or LinkedIn posts from employees, with a focus on providing basic knowledge of what your firm does.
- Sharing industry news to illustrate you keep abreast of changes in the industry.
- Client and account success stories, which help to establish a history and track record.
- Tips and recommendations for how clients on how they can best prepare themselves, apply for and obtain commercial funding.
- Updates about staffing, including welcoming new members of the team, charitable and community actions the firm does, and other major news
All of these are examples of establishing not only expertise but a rapport with current and potential clients.
Ideally, each employee will have a LinkedIn account, and the firm should be present on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Each of these has their own unique audience and requires maneuvering the content and voice. If done well it can improve the firm’s audience and its client relationships. These relationships are then allowed to grow, and hopefully present new opportunities to a firm.