Web 2.0, a.k.a social media, a.k.a "the current state of the Internet" (credit: Gary Vaynerchuk) has won the war. In fact, it won a couple of years ago. Why are we talking about this? Because I am tired of Loan Officers and Agents asking me for statistics, net ROI, or any other transactional measurement that the old guard thinks matters. Guess what? It doesn't.

You cannot measure the success of new world tactics with an old world understanding. Let me explain.

First, let me say that of course ROI matters in a logical sense. You spend "x" amount of dollars, and you make "x" amount of money in return. That's simple, but that isn't what we are talking about here. This conversation is about those who are still debating the importance of investing in a Web 2.0 strategy, let alone executing on it. And to be clear, this is what a Web 2.0 foundation strategy looks like in our industry (in my humble opinion):

Consumer Experience Design - Social Media & Marketing - Brand

Industry people talk about creating relationships all the time, but in the same breath, they talk about social media not being about relationships. I mean, c’mon, seriously? You need to realize that social media is the biggest opportunity you will ever get to strengthen and create those relationships.

Yes, making your tech better, faster, and easier is great. But again, you are only thinking in terms of the transaction, not the customer journey. There is a reason that Oracle has their customer journey as an infinite loop. You don’t want the transaction, you want the relationship which will lead to many transactions.

Social media is not a replacement; it is a supplement. As someone who lives off of commission, you should be killing it on social. Period. It is the easiest and most cost-effective way to extend your reach and brand ever. EVER. There are no more gatekeepers to stop you from extending your reach. It's not about if you think Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, are stupid, it's about the truth that the only consumer metrics that matter is attention, CX (customer experience) and engagement.

Look, I get it. You are probably an industry veteran with 15 to 20 years of experience. It's hard to the embrace change, especially in this industry after doing what you do for a decade plus. But I am telling that you better get over it real quick, or you and your business will get left behind.  

As a consumer, I don't care about your experience, I care about your EXPERTISE. I care about what value you add and how you are going to help successfully through the biggest financial commitment in my life. The experience vs. expertise distinction is fundamental when trying to add value as a core element of your CX, of your brand. Your brand is what other consumers tell other consumers it is, so would you rather be known as someone with experience or an expert?

No matter how many marketing dollars you spend on trying to tell the consumer what you're about, it ONLY matters what the consumer thinks. If you don't believe me, ask businesses about the importance of Yelp and other social proof providers. What do I care about as a consumer? I care about what my neighbor, my friends, and my social circle say. I care about social proof, and your sphere has no equal when it comes to that type of influence.  

Want a brand example? Let's look at Apple. First, how many times do you see Apple commercials on TV or the radio compared to other popular brands? Second, how many times have you heard them talk about their customer service ratings? The former, not too many, and the later, never at all. That's my point. When you do your branding/CX/engagement right, all this goes without saying. It is just assumed it is a given.

Apple's customers are passionate about Apple products. They will be happy to tell everyone they know about them and how much they love them. We all have had one person in our sphere tell us about the how great their iPhone or their Mac is. Right? Apple does very little traditional marketing when compared to other major brands, simply because they don't need to. They understand the market, their consumer, and the importance of creating raving fans. The perfect example of a Web 2.0 Strategy executed correctly.

Now you might be saying, "Mortgage & Real Estate" aren't as sexy as Apple. And you're right. However, it does not mean that the same methodology won't work. It will and how you know that it will, is by looking at your referral business. A high percentage of all Loan Officer/Real Estate Agent business comes from referrals. Right? And they are an example of your branding/CX/engagement done right. You just didn't think about it in those terms.

Now, think if you could embrace social and new ideas to turbocharge your referral machine? To expand on what makes you an expert and grow your sphere. And when you are done thinking about it, do it, and let me know the results. I want all your experts out there who do add value, to take advantage of what's happening right now.  This is your time, don't waste it, because eventually, it will be too late.