Why Mortgage Brokers Fail on Facebook by Dennis Yu

by 26 Jun 2011
You have heard the clamor - companies are rushing into Facebook to stake their claim and collect on untold riches.  Yet very few have measurable successes and those that do in the lead generation space are even rarer. The reason is simple: people are not looking for mortgages, buying cars, or looking for a plumber when they are on Facebook. Does that mean you should not be on Facebook? The naysayers cast social media channels as a teen hangout which has no place for business. Or that it is great for a national coffee chain, but not for the little guy that has a local business.  Let's talk about how you can successfully be on Facebook and what that means. First, there is no searching going on when you are on Facebook.

Yes, there is a search box, but people are not typing in "30 year fixed mortgage rates."  They are tying in their friends' names, using the search box as navigation. This means that you are not able to reach folks who want to refinance their home or purchase a new home loan at the time of the search.  You have no idea when they are searching, but in exchange you get to know who is searching. On Google, you know exactly when they are looking for something-- they tell you.  But you do not know who that users are, or how old they are.  Do they have kids? Are they disabled veterans?  Do they like luxury real estate? Your ads on Google are likely working well because you know exactly what to say at the moment they are searching.

You may calculate the number of visits received, what you paid for the traffic, and how many clicks turned into viable leads.  Google AdWords is a mature platform. On Facebook, you know who the user is, but cannot target them at the precise moment for when they are looking.  So you are investing in awareness, much the same way that the real estate agents spread awareness through the community via door tags, lollipops, chamber of commerce meetings, direct mail, and whatever other methods.  The investment will pay off over time because you could be reaching someone one week, or perhaps, even three years before they need your services. So what do you do about this?

Collect testimonials from your existing customers.  Ideally, you would want to video them to have a glowing testimonial.  You do not need anything fancy - just a simple Flip video or other recording with decent lighting.  Place these testimonials on your website, marketing materials, and your Facebook page.  When the prospect comes to your online presence, they will notice these testimonials and be more likely to pick up the phone to call you.  The more testimonials you post, the better.

Tie Facebook into your marketing efforts.  Think of Facebook like your second email list - you have to build a community.  This investment pays off over time.  A Facebook presence does not stand alone.  Rather your multiple marketing channels should reinforce each other.  Do you have your Facebook page in your email signature line?  How about a like box on your website?  If you are not driving traffic to your Facebook page, it will not deliver any leads.  Just like on the web, the mere act of putting up a site does not guarantee traffic.

Run some ads.  If you have not done the previous two items, Facebook advertising will be a massive waste of money. We see so many businesses that are eager to get onto Facebook and spend thousands of dollars advertising.  Little do they know, they are driving potentially viable traffic right into a brick wall.  Another analogy here is flushing money down the toilet, since you are spending good money and sending users to a page that does not convince them that you are the firm they should be choosing. Consider what your site looks like from the standpoint of the consumer.  Is it one of those generic looking sites with a lot of text and some stock photography?  Do you get the sense there is a real human there to answer the phone?  See step #1 above.

Rinse and repeat.  The optimization of ads is not rocket science.  First, start with the targets that you want, but remember that on Facebook you are targeting interests, not keywords.  What attributes identify your best customers?  How old are they?  Are they married, have a college degree, have a propensity to like certain brands?  Whatever you do, do not just advertise targeting only adults over 18 years old.  You MUST choose some interest targets, if for no other reason than because users who have liked something are far more likely to like you.  Then you can determine the ROI on your Facebook presence, as people will tell you they saw you on Facebook.

The beauty of all this is that it does not take much money to be successful.  Mostly, it is just elbow grease and some common sense.  One friend I know has a simple strategy.  For his San Diego brokerage, he spends a few minutes each day inviting people to his page - talking to folks on Facebook and twitter.  A month after starting, he was up at 500 friends, mostly females 30 years old and older.  Two months after doing this, he began to see a steady stream of leads - a couple per week.  Invariably, the snowballing effort of creating influence in the community, such that when one of these users (or a friend of one of these users) needed a loan, they remembered him.

No hard selling, just building relationships - that's what he told me. Do you have your Facebook page yet?  How many friends or fans do you have yet?  Are you actively nurturing your presence?  We are all busy people who do not have a lot of time to be fooling around on social networks. But consider this to be every bit as important as the connecting you do in real life.  You're still connecting with real human beings. And it's the longer-term development of relationships that pays off, whether in the real-world community or the online community.

Dennis Yu is CEO of BlitzLocal, a firm specializing in lead gen for Fortune 500 companies as well as the neighborhood dentist, plumber, car dealer, or restaurant.  You can contact him at dennis@blitzlocal.com with any questions you may have.  Mr. Yu can be reached on facebook at facebook.com/dennisyu. Mr. Yu has appeared on CBS Evening News, NPR, Fox News, the LA Times, KTLA, and other media outlets to share expertise in online marketing.

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