By Kim Lanham
In this era of instant connectivity, people are constantly in touch with one another, and can’t conceive of going anywhere without some type of mobile device. In fact, a handful of devices, the smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, and smart camera, may all be in tow depending on where we are headed. These devices keep us connected and informed; as business owners, they offer us the perfect opportunity to constantly be in front of our customers. With the ever-increasing necessity of cultivating a unique brand personality, the need for creative social media interaction has transitioned from an occasional post or tweet into everyday business. In addition, the act of producing a unique, distinct product in the mortgage marketplace where differences are often hard to come by calls for the highest degree of creativity both in innovation and marketing.
When encountered with the meaning of “social media,” most people associate it with staying current on the world and then sharing information with their connections via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like. These mediums for information sharing present tremendous opportunities for lenders. Social media provides us the platform to be transparent with our target audience and to offer our followers the opportunity to engage with us – as long as we execute a social media strategy correctly. Making blunders online could not only hamper our ROI on social media efforts, but also damage our reputations. The best way to avoid such results is knowing how your audience behaves on social media, thereby improving your chances of reaching them and building a relationship. With a thorough understanding of borrowers’ use of social media and a creative execution of online strategy, lenders can attain huge payoffs and reach a much broader customer base than ever before.
So how do potential borrowers engage on social media? Which social platforms are they visiting most often? Although we can’t tell who is ready to make their first-time home purchase, retirement home purchase, refinancing, and so on, we can target those who are likely to be ready based on age, gender, race, education, income, geographic location, and hashtag usage. Further, we can pinpoint which social media network is the most popular among each age group and what time of day they are most likely to be active on the platform.
Number of Social Network Users
Let’s start with looking at the total number of social media users in 2015, and then break that number down into how many users frequent each network. According to graphs from a January 2015 article in Adweek, out of the 179.7 million social media users, over 90% are comprised of those in the prime home buying age, which includes Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers, and spans from 25 to 54 years old.
Charts from the Adweek article also show that among the top five networks, Facebook has the largest number of users at 156.5 million and 62% of the entire U.S. adult population. Twitter comes in next with at 52.9 million users and 20% of the adult population, followed by Instagram at 60.3 million users and 24% of the adult population. The number of Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomer users on Facebook and Twitter follows the same ratio as the overall social media user population. Thus, if you are trying to reach homebuyers, knowing total number of platform users and age group usage alone, Facebook is your best bet and Twitter is your worst.
Demographics of Social Network Users
Let’s break down social media platform usage into greater detail. Here are several infographics created from a Pew Research Center 2015 report that highlight usage of the top networks by gender, age, race, education, income, and geographic location. We can discern which platform is most popular among our target market using this information. For example, if lenders are looking to target luxury homebuyers in urban areas, Facebook or LinkedIn would be ideal avenues because they have the highest percentage of users who reside in urban areas and have incomes of over $75,000
Frequency of Engagement Among Social Network Users
Knowing who is active on what social media platform is only one piece of the puzzle. Lenders also need to know when their target audience is active online, including how often, which day, and what time. For example, according to this chart from a Pew Research Center 2015 report, only 22% of LinkedIn users are engaged on the network on a daily basis, while 70% of Facebook users frequent the platform daily. Hence, if you post something to LinkedIn on a Monday, it is much less likely to be seen by your audience than if you were to post something to Facebook at the same time. On the other side of the spectrum, if you post something to LinkedIn on a Monday and a Thursday, most of your audience will only view one post. Performing the same action on Facebook may annoy your audience, since they most likely already viewed the first post.
Day/Time of Engagement Among Social Network Users
Lenders will get the most ROI on their social media efforts by pinpointing the exact days and times their audience is active on each platform. Much research has been performed in this area, and many organizations claim to know the best, worst, and peak times to post on social media. However, as indicated in the graph below that was generated from a CoSchedule blog post, most reports are representative of the general population, rather than one age group or one targeted audience.
Lenders should use this information to create their social media strategy keeping in mind that it will most likely be modified. A successful strategy will require continuous tracking of engagement, click-throughs, and shares, as well as revisions where needed.
Social media provides a way for financial institutions to promote and market themselves. It facilitates the communication with present and future clients through sharing content and starting a conversation. With today’s environment of non-stop advertising and rising compliance costs, lenders need to be able to break through the noise and reach potential borrowers in a cost-effective manner.
A social media strategy that targets the right audience at the right time will help lenders stand out from their competitors. The thought of posting to all social media platforms may sound tempting, but one network that works great for one lender may not be as effective as another network for a different lender. Lenders do not need to tackle the social media world all at once; start small with one or two platforms and build upon what is bringing the most ROI for your business.
Kimberly Lanham is the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Client Relations at Digital Risk. Kimberly can be reach at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Number of Social Network Users graphs: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/new-social-stratosphere-who-using-facebook-twitter-pinterest-tumblr-and-instagram-2015-and-beyond-1622
- Demographics of Social Network Users graphs: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/
- Frequency of Engagement Among Social Network Users graph: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/
- Day/Time of Engagement Among Social Network Users graph: http://coschedule.com/blog/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/