With Fannie Mae and other organizations predicting a tough outlook for 2023’s housing market, loan officers should be looking to get their name out in front of as many potential borrowers as possible in order to secure business. Even if you think you have enough business right now, you need to start leveraging social media in order to stay relevant and top-of-mind, as well as maintain your volume.
Instagram is a great option, with an estimated 1 billion monthly users. Many LOs are taking to the platform to share educational content.
“You really don’t have a choice at this point if you want to stay in the industry, because that’s a great way to reach people now,” said Shivani Peterson, a mortgage advisor at All Western Mortgage with almost 25,000 Instagram followers (@shivpeter).
Additionally, the news cycle can be intimidating for some potential borrowers, who may be scared by the interest rate and the “doom and gloom” coming out of the media around the housing market. As an LO, you have the opportunity to break through that fear and educate borrowers on the advantages of purchasing in today’s market — because those advantages do exist.
“That’s where a loan officer has the ability to create content, particularly on video,” said Haley Parker, area business development manager for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation (@haley.haunani.parker). Parker is a HousingWire 2022 Mortgage Marketing Leader with a focus on business development and marketing.
What should your content look like?
Your Instagram content should be specific to you because you won’t be the only LO in your market sharing information on the platform. Canned, generic graphics about the state of the market won’t cut it anymore — you need to catch your viewer’s attention very quickly.
“If you try to figure out why someone should work with you over the hundreds of other lenders that are in the area, you’ll come up with some ideas for content,” Peterson said. “Because as you’re trying to explain that to people, that’s the information you should be sharing on Instagram.”
Parker emphasized the need for original content that breaks through the negative, fear-based perspective of today’s market.
“The content that loan officers should be putting out is: ‘What are the positives of buying in today’s market?’ and helping the general consumer understand those positives,” she said. “Our buyers are smarter than the media gives them credit for, and they’re coming in strong. They’re in a position to navigate the market from a place of strength, not just a place of pure panic. Making video that talks to that buyer is important.”
Content ideas can also come from determining who your audience is and focusing on how those clients best like to receive information. Design your ideal client, the type of borrower you’d love to work with, and go from there.
“If you’re trying to capture everyone’s attention, you’re going to capture no one’s,” Peterson said. “You should be going after someone specific that you’d really enjoy working with and speaking to what they want to hear. If you really tune into who that person is, what they’re interested in and how they get information and best process it, then as you go through your day thinking of them, you’ll think of tons of ideas to make content about.”
Analytics can also help you determine who your content is resonating with, as well as engaging with your audience and communicating with them.
Balancing your content
Instagram lends itself to posting both personal and business content. So how do you find the balance between the personal and professional? Should you even post non-business content on your Instagram?
There’s not necessarily a perfect mix — it depends on what you’re comfortable with. The goal is to show up as your authentic self regardless.
“If you want your Instagram to just be educational videos, that’s great, as long as your personality is showing up in those educational videos,” Parker said. “They’re seeing your smile, they’re getting an idea of who you are, they’re feeling your energy, they know that you have expertise.”
If your goal is to attract an audience made up of people you want to work with, you want to be authentic and relatable. The magic “know you, like you, trust you” factor that drives prospective borrowers to work with you comes from showcasing yourself as a human, not just a mortgage machine.
“People don’t realize that so many of the conversations you’re having or the things you’re thinking about would actually help your clients if you let them in on it and shared it,” Peterson said. “I don’t have a specific formula of how much should be personal versus how much should be business or educational, but I think it’s actually a lot more intertwined than people realize.”
Instagram users also have to figure out how to balance posting between their Stories (quick pictures or videos that disappear after 24 hours), the Grid (your page’s main feature and the posts that show up in the main Following feed) and Reels (basically the Gen X version of TikTok). The platform seems to be constantly changing which feature it drives the most traffic to, so it’s important to use all three if possible.
The temporary nature of stories means you can get away with posting as often as 15 times a day, just taking a viewer through your day-to-day life — it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your grid posts have a longer shelf life and show up in your followers’ feeds, so it’s good to use it multiple times a week to stay sticky in their minds. And Reels should be a bit more produced and polished.
“We’re entering 2023 — you should be showing up in your followers’ feed at least three times a week,” Parker said. “But if one time a week makes you really happy, it’s a great video, and you’re feeling strong and confident because it took you a while to get to that point, that’s okay, too. That’s what’s so hard about social — it’s not a one-size-fits-all.”
How can Instagram help drive leads?
Instagram can help drive leads by simply keeping you visible in front of your target audience of potential homebuyers. If you post a video that gets 500 views, it’s similar to making 500 phone calls — you’ve let those people know who you are and that you are a mortgage expert.
Peterson said that she originally started putting out content as a way to remind her immediate sphere that she’s good at mortgages “without having to call them all the time.” When she began posting on Instagram, it was about 18 months before she got her first lead that directly reached out and cited her Instagram as the connection point. However, her business still tripled during that time because people she knew were more aware of her work.
“Every time people open their phone, I remind them that I’m in the mortgage business,” she said. “So then when they happen to need a mortgage, they’re less likely to forget that’s what I do.”
Over time as her messaging evolved and her community grew, she started getting inquiries via Direct Message or her website from people who knew her from Instagram.
Being active as an LO on Instagram makes it easier for people to tell whether they think you’ll work well together. If a Realtor recommends you to a homebuyer, they’re likely to find your videos while researching and determine whether they want to work with you before you even speak.
“They already know you, like you and trust you because they’ve already seen you,” Parker said. “That’s how you can create leads through video content on social — showing up as you, showing up as an authentic, educational professional. People will start gravitating toward that and DMing you as they feel like they know you.”
One of the most important things about posting on Instagram is consistency. Post regularly and show up in your comments to engage with your audience.
“Consistency leads to leads,” Parker said.
Knowing your “why” can help you lose the fear of getting in front of a camera and speaking. If you know that working on your social presence and posting videos is going to bring leads to your team, you’ll be more determined to do it.
You should also be authentic. Show up as yourself and it will resonate with your audience. Educational content is important, too.
And crucially, if you’re wanting to post on Instagram, just get started! If you find posting intimidating, remember that everyone started somewhere.
“Just start,” Peterson said. “Share the real stuff, give away the value for free and be authentic about it, and it’ll definitely pay off if you consistently continue.”
There are so many places LOs can show up for their potential borrowers. Not into Instagram? Check out tips for LOs on TikTok here. And if you’re looking to learn from other mortgage experts on social media, try our list of Twitter accounts mortgage professionals should be following.