by: Neil Sharma
It’s safe to say traditional marketing is going the way of the dodo.
Social media, on the other hand, allows brokers highly-personalized branding—specifically, a curated look into their private lives that’s spliced with mortgage-topical information their followers find interesting.
Alex McFadyen, known online as The Mortgage Pug—because Ernie, a faithful companion of 11 years featured in almost every posting—is one of the industry’s most active Instagram users and says social media, if used for marketing, should be extensions of who brokers are as people.
“The biggest misconception around social media is it’s something you have to figure out,” he said. “It’s an extension of who you are and the focal point should be on a particular part of yourself. The pug was pretty natural; it came from an inside joke with my wife where we have a pug that’s famous among our group of friends. Ernie embodied what I wanted to do in the industry with my brand.”
McFadyen has advice for beginners: as a springboard, ask those who know you best what makes you interesting.
“It shouldn’t just be about what you think is interesting, but ask people what they think of you, and not just your business self but who you are personally,” he said. “Don’t be as focused on making things clean and polished; focus on being transparent and educational. You don’t have to be too open all the time, but let who you are come through.”
McFadyen began fusing social media with his business about five years ago, and while he’s active on other platforms, including Facebook, his brand is immensely popular on Instagram.
“It comes down to how you want to run your day-to-day social media,” he continued. “Facebook is useful for long conversations, but on Instagram I don’t have to spend as much time on individual conversations and I can communicate with people more efficiently. This doesn’t apply to everyone but you have to find your home and live in that home. I think Facebook is a great place, but I decided to go all-in on Instagram.”
Daniel Johanis, a broker with Rock Capital Investments, moonlights as a vlogger [video blogging], frequently posting on Instagram and Facebook because, as he describes it, traditional advertising isn’t as impactful as social media. Moreover, not everybody is convinced they even need the former and often gravitate to the latter.
“In this industry, we’re similar to real estate agents in that the question becomes ‘what differentiates you from the next agent? Clients want to work with you because there’s a connection and they feel comfortable. You can leverage social media to create a relationship with someone you’ve never met before.”
In addition to vlogging, posting on Facebook and sharing Instagram stories, Johanis sends out newsletters, which he added is especially effective in generating emails from prospective clients.
“The content ranges from mortgage brass tacks to what’s going on in the industry,” he said. “I’m newer to the vlogging community, but I talk about what I’m passionate about, including my dog. Her name is Friday and she’s a Samoyed.”
In lieu of traditional metric trackers, the number of likes and messages garnered from each post is an accurate reflection of how well followers engage with content.
While McFadyen and Johanis are prolific social media users, the latter noted that the Canadian mortgage industry has an inexplicable aversion to online marketing.
“A lot of people don’t even have their own webpages,” said Johanis. “It’s definitely taken people a while to embrace social media, but I don’t know why that is.”