Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, provide a vital means of identifying, communicating and building relationships with referral partners and borrowers. Many of us, however, lack the skills or gumption needed to maximize results.
Based in Irvine, CA, Alec Hanson is a leading social media expert in the mortgage industry. During his 18+ year career, he has attained success as a nationally ranked, top one percent loan originator who has organically created top producing branches for large, national lenders.
Over the past year, Alec has played a leading role educating loanDepot’s forward and reverse mortgage sales force on effectively using social media and other online tools.
He is also the author of “Bypassed: A Modern Guide for Local Mortgage Pros Left Behind by the Digital Customer,” a how-to business guide to adopt the brand-building tactics that work in today’s real estate market.
Reverse Mortgage magazine sat down with Hanson to learn more about the important role of social media and tips to be successful at using it.
Reverse Mortgage: Why is social media such a vital marketing platform? Has it made newspaper, television and radio advertising obsolete?
Alec Hanson: From a marketing perspective, social media, in general, is a place of human connection. Take marketing aside for a second, because that starts to look like paid advertising or banner ads or click bait. Social media is a place where humans connect. That creates opportunities for mortgage professionals to be part of the conversations that are happening and cutting through what I call traditional marketing, whether it’s demystifying products, sharing insights, humanizing their brands and themselves about what they do and who they are. That to me is what I would consider contemporary marketing. It doesn’t hit them in the face, like a commercial, but it does get their message across. The next time somebody thinks about a mortgage or other service that professional comes to mind. We need to flip the script a little bit on marketing and just realize humans are on these platforms, more and more, and what an amazing way to make human connections and to share your message without having to spend money.
RM: Was there an a-ha moment in your professional career that led you to become a social media advocate?
AH: Two years ago, I noticed we were becoming more and more like something I can an “Internet First society”. We check the Internet first for things as opposed to texting our friends or family. When I got into the mortgage business in the early 2000s, I was taught, as an origination strategy, to go out every day and talk to Realtors to build relationships, earn their trust and get a chance to get a referral. Fast forward to today’s internet first society, I was like ‘oh my gosh, I could be in front of everybody, all the time, and not just one Realtor in one home that I visit, but I can be front of everybody. My message could reach thousands of people forever and a video I created a year ago could still reach someone today, which is crazy.
RM: Let’s talk specifically about Facebook. What best practices are you teaching salespeople if Facebook is their preferred social media platform?
AH: Stop being a billboard and be more human. A lot of people regurgitate marketing collateral and that has a place, but where’s the humanity in that? I am not getting to know you as a person because you sound like a commercial. We’re likely to tune out commercials, which is why we buy devices that skip over them. Social media is a two-way conversation just like a networking event. Don’t just talk about yourself all the time. Be interested in what other people are doing on their platforms. Take time to comment and engage with other people’s stuff, whether it’s family stuff or pictures. Lastly, you have to build your right audience and that takes work. If I asked a loan officer, how many of your past customers are you connected with on Facebook or LinkedIn, the response more often than not is zero. That’s all the people who you want to do loans for again, or these people can refer you to other people to build your audience. That takes time and intentionality.
RM: In a recent poll, NRMLA members said they used Linkedin more than any other social media platform, followed closely by Facebook. When asked why they used social media, the top response was keeping in touch with family, followed by networking, news and marketing. What conclusions can you draw from these survey results?
AH: I think we’re not realizing the power of human connection through these mediums. It’s definitely useful for hanging out with family and getting news and tips, that’s great, but there’s also a power to make human connections at scale. There’s a massive opportunity to understand what could happen here. Some people don’t want to do that, I understand. But, the people who realize ‘oh my gosh, I can connect at scale to all these people, all my customers, all my partners, all my referral partners, I can put out videos and messaging and make an impact, share knowledge, their businesses will explode. To me, it feels like the gold rush again. I feel like I’m telling people, ‘go West, strike it rich.’ It’s amazing, but people doubt it or say it’s not for them. I see as a cornerstone of the future success of anybody in our business is going to be grounded in a really strong digital connection into a growing audience that they invest in.
RM: Now I understand why our members’ preferred platform is LinkedIn. They’ve found a new way to establish referral relationships with Realtors, CPAs, attorneys, healthcare professionals, what have you.
AH: 1,000 percent. You’re correlating the exact thing that was my aha moment. All the stuff we used to do from in-person connections, from speaking and finding the attorneys and sending them letters and calling for appointments, they’re all on the social channels. There’s no gatekeeper, just go find them, send a message, connect. Then all of a sudden, they’re part of your audience. There’s some strategies to do this right. Just because you make one video, even if you have the whole right audience, doesn’t mean they’ll stop their day to watch it. Repeat your message, stay present, work hard and be consistent. I was coaching a loan officer who said his video only got 200 views and a few likes. I told him, if I put 200 people in the room right now it’d be terrifying, the room would be packed. Stop chasing the instant gratification and realize relationship building takes time.
RM: When you spoke during NRMLA’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, you advised attendees that they need to consistently post content on social media to be successful. Can you elaborate?
AH: I encourage people to post multiple times a day. That seems overwhelming, but you have to realize it’s not like everyone’s seeing it every five seconds. You’re not that important. What I mean by that is everyone’s busy. If you get on social media and scroll, you realize that you’re just kind of blowing by people, Maybe an impression here and an impression there. If you’re not posting all the time, then you’re not really passionate about what you’re talking about. if you invest in your audience and you are commenting on their stuff and you’re recognizing that’s a two-way street and you’re not just talking about yourself all the time, then trust me, you can post multiple times a day and your impact will just grow.
RM: What do you say to someone who’s maybe less tech savvy or a little insecure, and doesn’t want to bother with social media?
AH: Let’s talk about that. Everybody has a unique audience waiting for them, that connects them better than somebody else. We all have this blend of personality and life experiences that connect us to different people differently. Me putting out a video and somebody who’s 70 putting out a video about the exact same thing, we could say the exact same words, but both videos are going to reach different audiences and land differently for different people. Let me just say it crudely. We’re a judgmental society. Someone who sees me talking about reverse mortgages might say, ‘what the hell does that guy know about reverse mortgage? That guy’s just trying to scam me.’ The 70 year-old person who shares their life story, who talks about the reverse mortgage they have, there’s going to be someone who will go ‘I like that person, I don’t know what it is, but I have a gut feeling,’ My point is, we can’t hide anymore. If you’re a salesperson, come on guys we can’t hide. If you’re insecure about how you look, or sound, or maybe how you come across, you have to realize that no one really cares. You care. Others care about themselves and how they look and sound. They are not judging you the way you’re judging you. Have some grace. We get caught up in this BS and in this fear, but once you realize that’s all just dust, I don’t care what your age is, don’t hide, share your experiences. Share who you are. Share what makes you unique. Share your passion about the job you’re doing. That’s going to attract your audience. But, if you try to hide and disappear, you become this faceless, nameless and invincible. Remember, We love big brands for transactions but when I need wisdom, when I need a consultation, we need a human we can trust and look at, that’s why you need to put the camera on and show everybody you’re here for that, or the customer is going to go somewhere else, where they can get that advice.
DH: We’ve been talking about Linkedin and Facebook, what are your thoughts about Twitter and Instagram?
AH: I always start with Facebook and LinkedIn, because they are easiest to connect on. If I send you a LinkedIn connection with a message that says, ‘hey, I see you’re in the industry. I’d love to connect and see what you’re up to’ and it’s personalized to you, you’re likely to accept it and then we’re instantly connected. You’ll see my stuff and I’ll see your stuff. Same with Facebook. On Instagram, if I follow you, Darryl, that doesn’t mean you’re following me back. My message is not being heard by you unless you follow me back. Same with Twitter. That’s problematic. It’s harder to build your connection and your community on those platforms. You have to be way more intentional to get people to follow back and connect. For people who are just starting out don’t stress that game yet. Pick Facebook or LinkedIn, or both, and start building your audience. Start putting your feet in the water. Start finding all your past customers and your referral partners and your attorneys and start connecting.
DH: Thank you for your time. Throughout our discussion you talked about the value of posting videos to LinkedIn and Facebook, but what if someone doesn’t have a video camera or editing equipment. Is there an alternative option?
AH: Most of us seem to forget we actually have a $1,000 camera that’s usually sitting in our pockets. That’s amazing. By that, I mean a Smart Phone, which is better than most webcams. Spend $12 on a tripod stand for your phone, put it up in front of your face and make sure you have light on your face and not behind your head. And you’re killing it. You could buy air pods if you want the audio to be a little crisper, but that to me puts you so far ahead of the game. I know, sometimes we see this cool video editing stuff and that’s fun and you can pay people to do that, but then you have to realize, too, that as a society we’re done with the BS. We don’t want to be marketed to. We want realness, we want the truth, we want humans, and so you don’t need any editing. Just be you.