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    Three-quarters of Americans use some form of social media, spending 90% of their waking hours connected to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Along the way, the debate over whether social media is acceptable in the workplace has almost vanished. In the mortgage industry, social media use is not only acceptable — it’s a requirement of doing business.

    Still, many mortgage professionals have a poor grasp on how to incorporate social networking into their daily routines. Here are five keys for success.

    Share Your Expertise

    Social media should be fun, but it’s also a place where people learn about new things. People in the market for a new home are interested in market updates, information about new loan products, and ways they can save money to afford a new home. Your real estate agent partners want to know why they should refer their clients to you — and what they can do so you’ll refer clients to them.

    The best way to accomplish both tasks is to use social media to share your mortgage expertise and advice, and to do it generously and consistently. Make sure everyone in your network knows that, among their own network of friends, you’re the real mortgage expert.

    Use Video

    There’s no doubt about it, video marketing is powerful stuff. More than half of Americans watch more than an hour of online media every day, according to Adweek. Other studies show that people prefer watching video over reading and retain more of the information they see in a video.

    At the same time, video marketing is an advanced form of social networking. It can take a bit of time and investment to do it right. If you choose to use marketing videos, be creative and fun, and don’t be long-winded — consumers prefer videos under two minutes long.

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    Post Regularly

    Just like staying on a diet or saving up for a down payment on a house, consistency is key. Plan to post regularly on social media, as in at least several times a week if not once or more a day. The more often you post, the more likely someone is to see a message from you. Make sure the content you post has value to your audience, too.

    One way to ensure you have consistent posts is to create a social media calendar and plan out content ahead of time. Make sure you include all social media channels. For best results, many mortgage professionals use a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, which allows users to manage several social media accounts at a time.

    Spread Content Around

    Once you have one or more social media pages up and running, make sure you are posting content in more than one place. If you published a blog article on your website, share it on your social media pages. The same thing applies if you have an article or an opinion piece published in the local paper or online publication, or when someone writes you a positive review. Don’t be shy — share it! The more content you share, the more likely your audience is to find it and to think of you when they need help.

    Engage Your Audience

    The key to networking on social media is to actually do it. In other words, create conversations. Respond to comments on your page. Ask questions. Show an interest in the people in your network.

    A word of caution, however: While social media can be a great way to generate business and successful referral sources, it shouldn’t be the only reason why you’re on social media. Just have fun, meet new people, and let your expertise and passion for helping people get into homes shine, and the rest should take care of itself.

    One last thought — there’s no single right way to initiate or rejuvenate your social networking strategy, but it’s a good idea to check with your company’s social media guidelines as well as with regulatory agencies before you get started. Otherwise, get busy networking and have fun!

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