Is social media more important for advisers than word of mouth?

Top brokers share their thoughts on branding and lead generation

Is social media more important for advisers than word of mouth?

Advisers have traditionally relied heavily on referrals and word of mouth to generate new business, with some brokerages still working on zero marketing spend – but, according to the country’s top brokers, having a strong social media presence may now be just as important.

A group of New Zealand Mortgage Awards winners recently sat down in an NZ Adviser webinar to discuss the importance of social media in lead generation, brand building and business growth.

According to Satyan Mehra, founder of iConsult, being visible online can be a vital decision maker for clients who are browsing Google for a mortgage adviser, and he says those without a presence are likely to lose out to those who do.

“Building your social and brand presence is a really important tool,” Mehra said.

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“We all like to Google companies before buying their goods and services to see who they are, who we’re dealing with and who we’re talking to. We’ve found that when you are with clients who don’t know you personally and haven’t had any referrals, if they’re looking at several different advisers, they’re usually more attracted to the ones who have more reviews or more content that resonates with them.”

“That’s helped us quite a bit, and we’ve seen the positive impact that it’s had on the business,” he added.

“We use it as a brand presence rather than a lead generator, and we see it as a ‘decision maker’ for clients who are looking online and trying to choose who to deal with.”

Elyce Peters, head mortgage adviser at The Mortgage Girls, said that social media can be a valuable referral tool, particularly through platforms like Facebook where friends, family or groups seek out ‘recommendations’ every day.

“We use social media a lot in our business, and it’s very important for our company to get the message across that we’re real people,” Peters said.

“Having your own personality come through is great for that kind of brand building.”

“A lot of our clients are first home buyers, so we do get a lot of lead generation through platforms like Facebook, which is still quite big,” she explained.

“When someone posts ‘looking for a recommendation for a mortgage broker’, for example, it’s awesome to see our clients come forward to recommend us and our team. That then leads the new potential client on to our Facebook site, they check us out, look at our reviews, and then give us a call.”

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Aseem Agarwal, head of mortgage at Global Financial Services, said that even if a client does pass on a referral, almost everyone will look the firm up online before getting in touch regardless.

He said getting online traction can also help with search results – something which is becoming increasingly important for every business, as nobody wants their firm to be lounging on page five of a Google search.

“Even when people get recommended an adviser by their friends or family, they’ll still go online and read about the company and the adviser before they actually engage with them,” Agarwal said.

“We use it to get our name out there, but we also get satisfied customers to go on Facebook, Google, etc. and write a review for us. We find that the more reviews you have on those sites, the higher they rank you when it comes to organic searches, and we have a person who is dedicated full-time to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

“We can then look at the month-to-month shifts in search enquiries, and we can shape our marketing strategy accordingly.”