When it comes to social media, it’s not just about the shares and likes. Content is king, and it can really make or break whether or not your social media efforts are having any impact on the success of your business.
Chris Carter is the president of Market Focus, a software development company that provides products and services for the real estate, mortgage, insurance and title insurance industries. He said the biggest concern from businesses when it comes to social media is the fact that it’s difficult to put a hard number on the return on investment.
“I think that’s a big challenge for social media. Everyone’s always looking for ways to increase engagement and get those numbers up, and typically, without calls to action they look at likes and shares in general,” Carter said. “But if you look at buying behavior, it’s almost like a research thing; people are going to research you on social media, on your website, your reviews, all those different kinds of things. So it’s big issue.”
Creating good social media content and being strategic about posting is time consuming. Carter said that most people lack the time and skill to research and post consistently, and as a result, the content is neither engaging nor relevant. Research shows that images garner a higher response rate by consumers, but what’s even more important are the calls to action, which is the difference between someone seeing and liking your content and someone becoming a bona fide lead.
“You don’t want to link to YouTube videos because they’re not as effective,” Carter said. “They can see your competitors and they’re distracted; pretty soon they’re looking at cat videos.”
Instead, they need to be directed to places and actions where they can start the mortgage process.
Earlier this year, Market Focus released a new automated social media posting system called Blazing Social. Blazing Social not only automates social media posts, but also develops content for originators who are too busy or inexperienced in creating meaningful posts themselves.
Blazing Social combines data from two different economic newsletters and creates three new posts each week with content, particularly videos and infographics. What’s more, Carter said, they actively include calls to action in that content.
“We’re doing some things pretty creatively where we could put in call to actions, and basically with that you could say, ‘apply now’ or ‘visit my website’ or ‘learn more about me’—whatever you want to say within the post, they click on it and it could drive wherever you want them to go. And I think that’s really a key because shares and likes are good, but you want them to take an action like ‘apply now,’” Carter said.
Calls to action aren’t just about directing consumers to a specific place; they’re also easily tracked, which gives originators and others the ability to see how many leads they’re getting directly from social media as opposed to through other channels.
Everyone obviously wants leads, but before establishing accounts for various platforms and firing off posts here and there, it’s worth taking some time to set defined goals around the purpose of being on social media. Those goals will vary based on originator and company, but the decision has to be made: is the primary goal of social media to build a brand or for lead generation?
“Obviously there’s a wide range of goals for social media, so it’s really a matter of where your goals are in terms of, what do you really want to get out of it. If you want to get leads then you probably really need to do Facebook ads or things like that to drive people to fill out a form. Versus, it’s a long-term strategy, where I really want to build up my expertise and people are going to really get a big community so it becomes another marketing channel,” Carter said. “For people who are spending money on it, I think they want more immediate, as opposed to long-term.”
That’s not to say it can’t be both, but the decision will influence the strategy. Likes and shares are more important when looking to truly build a community and increase awareness of a particular brand. For lead generation, however, the goal is to get more calls to action in place that will direct consumers to the place where they can take that next step, whether it’s texting a mortgage professional, filling out a 1003, or otherwise entering information into a database.
If people are really serious about using social media for lead generation, Carter said, then they also need to boost their involvements with Google Ads and Facebook advertising, the latter of which he thinks will become of more interest to businesses in the coming year.
Regardless of the goal, it’s necessary to have a cohesive marketing strategy. Carter said that most people have lots of marking tools but they don’t link them together very well. Ideally, even a CRM should be able to help link past customers into current marketing efforts. Everything should have links to social media channels and reinforce the same messages.
Before the end of 2018, Blazing Social will have the ability to connect the provided directly to the poster’s own material, so when a consumer clicks on a post, infographic, or video, they’ll actually be taken to view the material on the poster’s website, enabling them to see the universe of tools and other information there.
Sharing quality content on social media is imperative, whether it’s being used for branding or lead generation—and for really savvy originators, social media can be used for both.