canadian-mortgage-guide-to-social-1140x566Practical tips for Canadian Mortgage Brokers to get the most value out of content publishing and social media.

Introduction

At the Mortgage Broker conferences we’ve attended these past few years, the Broker community has seemed to be divided on the effectiveness of social media for marketing. And with good reason: for every Broker who is enjoying success by sharing on social media, there are dozens who aren’t seeing a return for their time. While there’s no denying the effect it has for a choice few influencers, it doesn’t seem to be for everyone.

Part of this divide comes down to understanding of the way these channels work, and a lack of strategy. The common thread of Brokers who network successfully on social media is an understanding of the technology, and a willingness to put the time into succeeding. To that end, we decided to create a handy Broker’s Guide to Social Media, to help bridge the gap and get more Brokers to see the value of an informed social media presence and plan.

In this Guide, we’ll offer an overview of the basics of social media publishing, as well as explore some specific tactics that Brokers can use on the various social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat. Then we’ll dive even deeper and look at blogging, podcasting, video and more.

Part 1: Getting Started

What’s it all about? What is the point of this social media stuff, and how can it help Canadian Mortgage Brokers? As it turns out, it can help a lot.

The easiest way to think about social media strategy is to imagine a cocktail party. For a Broker, a cocktail party requires a delicate balance of networking, with casual reminders of one’s profession. Every time you meet new people in public it’s an opportunity to promote what you do, and potentially come away with a new relationship or even new business referral.

But no one wants to hear a hard sell at a cocktail party.

If anyone were interested in doing business with you, it’s because of you: the company you keep, the way you conduct yourself, and the impression that you make on them as someone who can help.

Social media is exactly like that, except that under the right circumstances, you can “network” in a much bigger room.

Most of your business comes from people you already know, or who are one degree removed— social media just allows you to stay familiar with all of them, and keep yourself top of mind. For that reason alone, it is a vital part of a Broker’s presence. In action or absence from social media is almost conspicuous at this stage, especially to younger borrowers.

Who Are You? Who is Your Client?

Your presence on social media is an extension of you— hopefully that has been made clear by the cocktail party analogy. But who are you, and what kind of cocktail party are you throwing?

Give some thought to your own interests, and the things that make you both unique and accessible to your network. Are you a parent? A bookworm? An athlete or coach? Explorer or traveler? Do you do any volunteering or fundraising? Make some decisions about the parts of your life that you are willing to share, that will help people get to know you, and establish some common themes that will help people to understand who you are. Then it’s just a simple matter of being willing to update people about those goings-on, peppered with some reminders about what you do professionally. It is acceptable to discuss the prime rate at a cocktail party for example, but people will be more interested in your thoughts than just a strict reporting of the facts.

What follows is a channel-by-channel breakdown of tips for the various social media tools, posting frequency and tactics. But before your start publishing, think about the questions above, and the type of clients you mean to attract. Everything you publish should be passed through a filter of “will this be interesting?” and “Does this reflect well on me to my network?” Remember, you don’t have to be a “viral” sensation to be successful, you just have find ways to stay top of mind with your network and your addressable market at large.

Don’t Do These Things

It’s not a good idea to rant, argue, belittle, bully, complain, or whine on social media. Not to beat this metaphor to death, but you can expect the same reaction to that kind of behaviour as you would at a party. Be willing to express your opinion, but be aware that you are judged on all of it.

The Basics of Facebook for Brokers

fb_icon_325x325Facebook is the party that everyone has already been invited to. You probably already use Facebook, keeping in touch with friends and family, and that’s perfect. Do that, but maybe do more of it.

Your Facebook profile is the best place to share the activity in your life: photos of your family and friends, travel, new articles you’ve read and found interesting, the works. Mix it up, have some fun and feel free to leave (correctly spelled!) comments and “Likes” where it suits you.

Don’t overthink Facebook: it’s just an extension of you and your personality. But don’t ignore it either. Not only is it good for reminding your network of what you’re up to (and any mortgage related news that I want to comment on) but it’s also good for learning from and connecting with other Brokers in Facebook Groups. The collaboration between Brokers on Facebook is nothing short of heartwarming, and can make the world seem smaller when you know you’re not the only one out there.

When to post: Any time of day or week.
What to post: Interesting things, your family, your pics, your links, your commentary on the housing market or interest rates, your big wins, and more. Keep it relevant, keep it fun.
How often to post: 1-7 times per week, as it suits you.
Some tips: Visuals are great, so pics, and links with image previews, videos are all popular on Facebook.

LinkedIn: An Invaluable Resource for Brokers

linkedin_logo_initialsIf you fancy yourself a blogger, LinkedIn’s Pulse tool could be the best new place for you to start a blog. Why? Because content gets discovered in LinkedIn these days, and it’s in the context of the world’s largest repository of working professionals.

Even if you’re not sharing full articles on LinkedIn, find ways to keep it up to date: share relevant industry links with your commentary, keep your work profile up to date, congratulate peers and friends on career milestones (don’t worry, LinkedIn will tell you about them) and maintain an active presence on the network. Ad every new relevant contact you meet, by introducing yourself with a personalized message. If Facebook is a cocktail party, LinkedIn is the company lunchroom or even boardroom, so a more professional and work-relevant presence is apropos.

When to post: Any time of day or week, but mornings are better.
What to post: Your commentary on the housing market or interest rates, your big wins, industry links, interesting articles from peers and friends— keep it professional.
How often to post: 1-3 times per week, as it suits you.
Some tips: Use LinkedIn Pulse to share your thought leadership on any industry developments that you can shed light on. You will remain top of mind and will get noticed on LinkedIn’s content discovery tools when your friends login.

Part 3: Twitter, Instagram and yes, Snapchat

These newfangled seeming networks are not just for kids. For one thing, Twitter has been around for ages, and if anything is losing its status as a dominant network. Less and less engagement takes place on Twitter with each passing month and year, so we are hesitant to recommend that you throw all of your eggs in the Twitter basket.

There are definitely still ways to succeed on Twitter, but they would require a lot more more effort and time than most Brokers would like to invest, even at just 140 characters at a time. Two years ago we would say that you MUST be on Twitter. My how times change. Now we’ll simply say that it would be nice if people were able to reach you via Twitter, but there should be no rush to go out and start a new profile.

Instagram

2016_instagram_logoFor Canadian Mortgage Brokers, Instagram is a very useful free tool for keeping your network up to date. Think of it like a postcard: A single image with a short bit of text that explains the context.

From your phone, you can share images to Facebook as well through the photo sharing app, killing two birds, as it were. Document the parts of your life that you are willing to share (Your 10K charity run, your ripe tomatoes in the garden, your sandcastle, even your kids if you feel comfortable).

For most of your networking, your privacy settings should be set to “public” for maximum reach, so give some thought to how much of yourself you want to share. Follow others on the network with similar interests and peruse and interact with their photos as well. It will help you grow your network to use something as simple as “liking” a photo to help keep you in touch.

Snapchat

snapchat_logo-700x700If you were born before the 80s, the appeal of Snapchat might be lost on you, but don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Snapchat has become the unlikely 800 lb gorilla that no one can ignore anymore. It works one of two ways: You can send private messages to friends, or publish public “stories,” which can consist of still images or edited video clips with superimposed text and filters. It might not be a great use of your time to read several more paragraphs about Snapchat strategy, but let’s just say that the door is wide open for someone to become the superstar Canadian Mortgage Broker of Snapchat. Ask your closest tween or 20-something how it works- it confuses even us, and we build apps for a living.

When to post on Instagram, Snapchat: “As it happens.” Let people know where you are and what you’re doing, during or just after the activity. Sometimes posting an update can spoil the mood or the moment, so don’t feel like you have to post in real time, but don’t save items on your camera rolls for days and weeks either.
What to post: The images and video clips that inspire you and represent what you are doing and where you are going. Be yourself!
How often to post: As many as one or twice a day, and at minimum once per week.
Some tips: Some photography skills are very useful here, so give some thought (or Googling) to photo composition, lighting, and if necessary sound as well. Snapchat stories are great, and you should feel free to have fun with options like the geo filters. But keep in mind who your audience are, and think twice before using the squishy face or dog face filters. Keep it professional.

Part 4: Blogging, Podcasting, Video

Do you have a creative streak in you? Maybe you were gifted with a bit of performance gene, or a gift of the gab, or even some talent with a keyboard. If you’ve got the chops, content creation could be just the ticket for you.

Bear in mind, whether it’s publishing blog posts or doing full-on edited video productions, you’re going to need a certain amount of resources and tools to pull it off.

Blogging

rss-iconThe lowest hanging fruit of this trio, as blog posts are much easier to create than audio or video recordings. Still, you have to have something to say in order to stand out among the noise of so many people publishing all the time. For best results, establish a very specific niche; a brand of sorts, that will help people identify with what you’re about.

For example, you could limit your commentary to issues in just one small geographic area, or incorporate your other interests into the narrative. One thing is for sure though: only by catering to and identifying with the needs of your readers will you even make any headway. Become a publisher that provides useful information that is in the service of others, and sooner or later, people will take note. There are dozens of free blogging tools out there, but spring the $100 or so annually for the hosting and domain name—it will be worth it.

When to post: When inspiration strikes, but with some kind of predictable regularity. Weekly? Monthly?
What to post: Market info, housing prices, your commentary and feedback, musings, interests, hobbies, volunteer work, etc.
Some tips: It’s not just about the writing. You can invest a lot of time in photography or image sourcing, illustrations, editing, SEO, the list goes on. The best tip we can provide is to monitor the performance and make improvements where you see opportunities to do so. Use a free tool like Google Analytics to give you accurate stats.

Podcasting

apple-podcasts-app-iconPodcasting is all the rage these days. After a slow start among hobbyists and tech nerds, podcasting has gone mainstream, thanks in large part to the prevalence of smartphones and mobile “music” libraries. Like democracy for the airwaves, podcasting gives anyone the ability to record and broadcast what they like- and all you need is a recording device, which could be as simple as a phone, and as complex as a microphone plugged into a mixer plugged into a digital recorder. You can start your podcasting adventure with more basic equipment, but if the sound quality is terrible, you won’t get any loyal listeners.

Want to hear an excellent example? Scott Peckford hosts a number of Broker-specific podcasts at ilovemortgagebrokering.com, including the Lendesk-sponsored Ask a Broker.

When to post: Have a predictable schedule that you can stick to. Weekly or biweekly is plenty. There’s no rule about length of recordings, but keep it tight and interesting. 10-20 minutes is a great window to shoot for on your first several attempts.
What to post: Your thoughts, interviews with guests, insights into industry news, etc.
Some tips: Where possible, try some editing in order to trim the less engaging parts of a recording. For example, in a Q and A interview, stick to the parts where the best answers are shared, or the best moments happen. If you’re serious about podcasting, invest in some equipment. It’s not terribly expensive, and the quality difference will be very noticeable.

Video

play-square-button_318-53754Video takes a lot of work, processing power and time to get right. You can make videos as easily as recording yourself with your phone, or they can involve many long hours of editing. If you have an understanding of how to do it right, then video might be the best way for you to connect and engage with your network. Keep videos short and to the point- it will reduce the amount of editing you’ll have to do, and shorter videos are more likely to be seen and shared.

Super Amazing Bonus Tip: Presently, Facebook Live is a fantastic way to get a lot of reach with live video content. Recorded live into a mobile phone, Facebook Live videos send shockwaves throughout your network in the form of Facebook notifications, during and after your “broadcast.” The success of the Chewbacca Mom was as result in part of Facebook Live’s ability to instantly recognize engaging content and share it with a wider audience. If you try just one type of video this year, try Facebook Live.

When to post: If it’s live, think about when people are likely to be home. Otherwise, post your video when it’s complete. Producing video can be time consuming, so try to limit the amount of production required, while still investing enough time to do it right.
What to post: Your thoughts, interviews with guests, insights into industry news, etc. Or if you like, your adventures. Inspire people and bring them into your world as it suits you.
Some tips: To do video right, half of the work at least should be done in advance: script writing, location scouting or set dressing, practicing. When it comes time to record and edit, you’ll know exactly where you’re going if you plan in advance. Even if it’s just you in your home office on a webcam, all of the above applies. Give some thought to your lighting, the framing of your video shot, and the quality of your audio. You could be on the most amazing beach in the world, but if you have your back to the sun and have wind blowing into your microphone, you could look and sound terrible. Plan, and practice.

With all of these tips, you should have enough info and inspiration to get started. There is tons of information about to get started on each of these topics that is more general in nature, and not specific to Canadian Mortgage Brokers. For example, how to buy the ideal microphone for podcasting, or how to Instagram.

We’ll publish more tips specifically for Brokers (how to use Email coming soon), and now that you’re a subscriber, you’ll be first to read all of them.