Even as originations through Realtors and clients slow across much of the industry, brokers are actively developing leads and closing deals originating on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
“Originations from social media now account for 10 per cent of our portfolio,” Tom Lam, owner of Urban Mortgage, one of Canada’s fastest growing mortgage and real estate firms, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “That represents an increase of 100 per cent since we started two years ago.”
While quantifying the exact pulling power of Twitter and Facebook is harder for other brokerages, many are now pointing to similar gains as their salespeople add tweeting and posting to their daily routines.
“Leads from social media – Facebook and Twitter – and our newsletters account for 20 to 25 per cent of our leads,” Jessi Johnson, president of Verico Jessi Johnson Mortgage Team, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It’s hard to know exactly what percentage of that is specifically from Facebook or Twitter or the newsletter, but I’m using social media to help me stay on the radar of prospective leads and to help me cement name recognition.”
Johnson, in fact, has 15,000 followers on Twitter, one of the highest in the industry. It’s a carefully selected list of potential and existing clients, although the idea is to create a social connection as well as to help position himself as an expert on mortgages, said Johnson, one of the industry’s first to incorporate social media lead-generation methods into his marketing strategy.
“About 25 per cent of my Tweets and my Facebook posts are personal,” he said. “If you talk mortgages all day, you’re going to bore people to death.”
Lam, who also opts for a softer sales technique, agrees.
“Rather than use Social Media as blatant request for business, we try hard to create content that is engaging,” he said. “Ultimately, we want our users to dialogue with us.”
Still, for brokers, the volume of users is key, say experts, with the most effective networks measured in the tens of thousands of followers and Facebook friends.
Gaining that kind of audience is a challenge in itself, according to brokers who make a point of following prospective clients first in hopes they’ll reciprocate.
“By following someone, you’re paying them a compliment and they’ll usually follow you,” said Johnson. “You have to be on social media these days: it is the new method for communication; I have friends that don’t even read an email; you have to keep pretty active on it, though. Having a Twitter account of 200 or 300 people isn’t going to do anything for you.”
Still, even ardent believers in the power of social media to grow referral and, ultimately, deals, suggest it’s best used as a complement to more orthodox marketing tools, not a replacement.