June 10, 2010

Present at the Creation of Mortgage Marketing 2.0

Posted in Facebook, Financial Markets, Marketing 2.0, Social Media tagged , , at 3:35 pm by Doug Brockway

The other day Rick Grant posted “Time for the Mortgage Industry to Get Social” in a well followed industry publication, HousingWire.  He thinks the industry is starting to “get” social media and he says he knows this because he can hear them kicking and screaming.

I’ve worked in and around a number of industries and have found none of them quite as seemingly insular as the mortgage industry.  Sometimes this is only a mirage.  The industry has turns and complications that are difficult to see and explain even by seasoned insiders.  Sometimes its just the personality of the beast.  In the early 1990’s when Fannie Mae introduced rules-based technology in Desktop Underwriter it was counter-cultural in a number of ways not the least being that no other industry was using that technology at massive scale yet.  In most cases, as with social media, the mortgage industry is a “late adopter” of technology.

A lot of the mortgage industry is B2B.  It involves the various required parties interacting to originate a loan, to package and sell it, to securitize it, to service and retire it.  Most people interact with the mortgage industry on a B2C basis when they search for a new mortgage, look to refinance, or (much to often lately) repair or retire a loan gone poorly.

This means that different parts of the mortgage process will predominately use different social media tools.  Loan brokers and originators will go to where individuals are.  Increasingly, that means tools like Facebook.  People working on professional interactions between parties within the industry will look elsewhere, most often professional networking tools like LinkedIn.

To see what’s going on today I did a quick survey of some mortgage key words in three places:  LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (getting counts on Twitter will take more staff work).  The result is:

Groups on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter:

Category LinkedIn Facebook[1] Tweets[2]
Mortgage 1287 Over 500 Lots
Some of the underlying include….
REO 285 7 6
Mortgage Servicing 29 55 4
Mortgage Lending 88 Over 500 Lots
Mortgage Origination 9 54 0
Mortgage Underwriting 7 47 5
Mortgage Risk 9 109 Lots
Secondary Marketing 13 94[3] 0
Mortgage Marketing 40 309 Lots
Mortgage Technology 20 143 4
Mortgage Insurance 99 Over 500 Lots
Mortgage Fraud 12 23 Lots
Mortgage Banking 79 228 Lots
Mortgage Bank 34 Over 500 Lots
Mortgage Broker 56 Over 500 Lots

[1] Filtered for Business Groups

[2] This column is “lame”, not based on Lists or hash tags… needs revision

[3] Clearly NOT very mortgage related

Some of the above is piffle, SPAM.  Certainly LinkedIn groups, often started as vehicles to sell something, can be this way.  On the other hand, the right content, when it’s of interest, can take on a life of its own.  Today, “Mortgage Reform and Sacred Cows” generated 28 tweets and retweets in 1 hour, each of these being seen by all the followers of all the tweeters and each enabling a call to action on the part of a buyer.  Randomly checking the last three tweeters they have 1,249, 716, and 29 followers respectively.  Thousands of people saw this article today.  That’s coverage.

If you’re in the mortgage industry and you’re thinking about whether or not you might or could or should participate the answer is you must.  There IS a conversation going on, right now, about you and your competitors.  You must participate.  If you haven’t any experience in the subject then start by listening.  Join some LinkedIn groups (you can search them based on your interests), use the tools like Radian6 or Scoutlabs to monitor what’s being discussed.  Get a feel.

Very soon, participate.  Its “social” media and that means participate in the discussion.  You can’t dictate or dominate it with canned press release material.  Participate in the discussions as if you’re at a cocktail party, sipping on club soda, trying to know what others are saying and trying to make sure your points are heard and you are known.

The most important thing to get to is publishing content on the issues that your customers are interested in from their point of view.  NOT product pitches.  Instead,  useful, intelligent contributions to the discussions.  Do this and customers will follow your “calls to action” and click on your contact buttons.

Like anything else the basic stages are:  1) dip your toe in the water, 2) make a number of concurrent efforts, not experiments, but not too worried about “integration”, you need experience 3)  consolidate, integrate and expand.

Call if you need help.

May 8, 2010

Might Facebook be on the Fundamentally Wrong Path?

Posted in Facebook, Marketing 2.0, Social Media tagged , , at 2:17 pm by Doug Brockway

In early May Dan Yoder posted this article on Business Insider:  10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account.  One of the key points made in the analysis is that “Facebook’s Terms Of Service state that not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don’t keep it up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account (section 14).”

In defense of their privacy changes last January Facebook said ‘People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.’ In introducing the Open Graph API Facebook says ‘… the default is now social,’ meaning Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody.

“At the same time that they’re telling developers how to access your data with new APIs, they are relatively quiet about explaining the implications of that to members.”  Claims Yoder, “Since they are in the business of monetizing information about you for advertising purposes, this amounts to tricking their users into giving advertisers information about themselves.”

And lastly to my point, “At this point, all your data is shared with applications that you install. Which means now you’re not only trusting Facebook, but the application developers, too, many of whom are too small to worry much about keeping your data secure.”

There are many data privacy concerns that come to mind reading this.  I’ll add that the approach is simply wrong-headed from the point of view of marketing.

Yoder’s article made me think of a fantastic post by David Meerman Scott.  In Social media marketing explained in 61 words.  Scott writes, “

  • You can buy attention (advertising)
  • You can beg for attention from the media (PR)
  • You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales)

Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, an ebook, a Facebook page.”

When Facebook claims ownership of our data and makes that data available to under managed and under controlled developers and  advertisers, they are using a social media medium to buy, beg and bug me for attention.  They are violating the basic tenets of social media marketing and being a world-class pain in the ass to boot.

Yoder makes other points.  He’s not technically impressed with Facebook, says it’s really hard to delete your account, that Facebook doesn’t support the Open Web, and their user interface [is sub-standard].  I certainly appreciate the last.

My guess is that Facebook will experience solid success for a while but that can, likely will, come to a screeching halt if their user-base ties the link between the “land grab” for personal data and annoying, unrelenting, old-style push marketing and advertising.

In its own way this is similar to Goldman Sachs et al claiming that they’re creating liquidity that makes life possible while at the same time taking every dime from every source they can in any manner that crosses their minds.  The concepts clash, or, as they say in Harvard Square, “that there’s one heckuva’ lotta’ cognitive dissonance.”