What Social Marketing Really Means in the Reverse Mortgage Industry

While several reverse mortgage lenders are entering Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels, a focus on “social marketing” doesn’t always have to mean “social media,” experts say. 

In fact, contrary to popular belief, “social” starts inside a company, not online, said Amber Naslund, senior vice president of marketing at Sysomos, a social media analytics company.

“A social business is not one that is on Facebook; it’s one that applies social principles to its own operations,” she said at a recent senior care marketing conference in Chicago. “How you work with one another, how you communicate, how you reward and recognize your employees — that comes together to create a better customer experience.”

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And as reverse mortgage lenders continue dabbling in the social media realm, it’s important to consider social media as an outcome, not a catalyst, of social marketing. 

What Social Really Means: Creating a Community People Want to Belong to

Nearly three in four American adults use social media. And 2 billion users are on social networks worldwide, meaning that about 30% of the world’s population is connected digitally.

With the emergence of social sites like Facebook and Twitter, marketers can now tap into the wisdom of consumers like never before. But the same is true for consumers: They can afford to look more critically at marketing because more information — unbiased, organic, unfiltered information — about companies and their products is readily available online through social media.

“Having [social presence] is a means for people to have level-set conversations that are not directed by a brand or a company. It’s kind of the Wild West of the Internet,” Naslund said. “But it creates more than just a conversation for people. It creates an experience and a community that people want to belong to. It starts to teach us a few things about how we relate to people.”

Roughly 75% of search results in any given online search are social media-based content, such as blog posts, e-books and tweets, according to Naslund.

But lenders should resist the temptation to invest all their marketing resources into the lure of social media, because it’s not the tool, itself, that truly impacts a marketing campaign. Rather, it’s what a company can learn from it that means more than any tweet or status update.

“Social is not the answer,” Naslund said. “Instead, social is the question. It ought to get us asking better questions about the way we work.”

For example, companies should ask, “Is my organization culturally self-aware?” This awareness is critical in grasping what drives an organization emotionally, and being aware of the impact that emotions, feelings and culture can have on business, work and relationships, Naslund said.

“Social media is far less about operational revolution; it’s a cultural revolution,” she said. “Having a really good handle on the culture of your organization is imperative, … [because] social media is a window into the culture of companies.”

This includes the culture of recognition within an organization. Are reverse mortgage lenders providing informal, spontaneous ways to recognize staff for accomplishments? Do staff members know their work is important?

Making small tweaks within an organization can make a big impact, pushing customers to use social media to share their experiences. 

“Customer stories and experiences are the most important [marketing content we have],” Naslund said.

And by using principles of social media, lenders can transform their organization into one that creates an unrivaled customer experience.

“In an era in which information is completely overwhelming, what we have to do is turn all of this social philosophy in on ourselves and create an organization that serves our customers better than anyone else — and that’s the best marketing we can do.”

Written by Emily Study

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