PERSON OF THE WEEK: Scott Gordon is president and CEO of lender Open Mortgage LLC and author of the new book ‘Social Media for Loan Officers.’ MortgageOrb talked to Gordon this week to get a bit more information about the book and some insight about how mortgage originators can best use social media.
Q: What motivated you to write this book? And are you aware of other social media books aimed solely at lenders?
Gordon: I didn't see any other books focused at lenders, but I didn't scour the Library of Congress. I have always been a tech person, and a believer that the world is changing and you have to change with it. But I found that loan originators and Realtors are sometimes slow to pick up technology. I wanted to make a case to them that there are very real, pressing reasons why they need to use social media.
But I also wanted to let them know that although social media may seem big and scary, you can actually do as little or as much as you want, and you can take it in little pieces. I hope that I'm making it less scary for beginners, and prodding others to take the next step and do more.
There are many social media platforms – way more than anyone could use. I wanted to share my opinions about which ones to start with, and what to add on, as you devote more time to it. I also wanted to give some ideas about what to do every day or every week, and whom loan officers could turn to for help.
Q: On the whole, how would you rate the mortgage banking industry's approach to social media?
Gordon: On the whole, the banking industry is behind the times. The biggest players do OK. They have budgets to do a lot of outbound marketing and branding, and they are now starting to spend more in the social space.
Mid-sized companies are not doing nearly enough. At Open Mortgage, we are making major changes to 100 websites right now and working to get all of our loan officers more active in the space. It takes time to get some people to buy in, but as they see results, they get excited about doing more. It's definitely a space where the company has to do as much for the loan officer as possible, if they really want loan officers to get off the ground and get momentum with social media.
Q: You are the president and CEO of Open Mortgage LLC. Do you believe it is incumbent upon company executives to handle corporate social media outreach? Or is this best served by a marketing department?
Gordon: I believe marketing is one of the most important functions in any company, large or small. Marketing creates leads, and today, social media is a key piece of marketing. I do it because it's something I believe in, and sometimes it's hard to shut me up. But if I didn't push social media, our vice president of marketing would, because she gets it. CEOs don't have to push social media, but they better push the marketing department to be all it can be.
Now, consider every loan officer a company of one. He or she better understand marketing, or better be part of a brand and have marketing support, and they better work every day and every week to generate leads, because that's where production comes from.
Q: Some popular sites – including Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr and Pinterest – are not highlighted in your book. Why did you opt not to include them?
Gordon: I wanted this book to be for beginners, and I had to draw a line somewhere. There is another class of lead generation that can be done through Pinterest. I'm not convinced it is as strong for mortgage as it is for real estate, but it's worth playing with if you have time. I think the tools I focus on in the book should be used first. The order I prescribe is LinkedIn first, then your own blog, then Facebook, then Twitter. And I go back and forth on Twitter.
I didn't mention Google+ in this book because a lot of people don't understand it. People think it's Google's Facebook, and that's only partially right. The real power of Google+ has to do with establishing your ‘authority,’ which Google uses in search algorithms, which makes your blog show up better, which gets you leads. Kind of a mouthful. I believe Google+ is so important that my next book on social media is ‘Google+ for Loan Officers.’
Q: Do you have any plans for other new books?
Gordon: I'm currently writing a consumer book on reverse mortgages called ‘Reverse Mortgage: Beginner to Advanced Strategies.’ There are other books on reverse mortgages, but none that discuss advanced strategies. I think it's important to talk about that aspect, as well as the basics.