How to Use Social Media to Develop Realtor Relationships

When used properly, social media can help credit unions make connections with Realtors, which in turn will increase CUs’ share of the mortgage market.

That was the message from Terri Murphy, CIO of U.S. Learning Inc., Memphis, Tenn., and consultant to the National Association of Realtors. Murphy told attendees of the recent ACUMA 2010 Annual Conference in Las Vegas that Realtors by and large do not know credit unions do mortgages.

“The good news is that means there is an opportunity,” she said. “The bad news is, credit unions are starting from scratch.”

Murphy recommended a number of online methods to develop these relationships, including social media and personalized Web pages. LinkedIn, the free professional social networking platform, is “one of the best ways to find strategic partners.”

Social media is a great way to network and “join conversations,” she suggested. “It is not about credit unions marketing to Realtors, it is about connecting,” she said. “Credit unions need to know how their services are different from and better than the competition. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Relationships don’t happen overnight. We create a partnership with people who can help us, but there has to be a trust factor.”

Twitter’s 140-character micro blogs are for “interesting tips for members about a credit union’s services,” she said. “They are like samples at Costco—people have a little bite, then they go buy the item.”

Another service Twitter offers to CUs: they can monitor what members and nonmembers alike are saying about the credit union. This unfiltered feedback can be very valuable, Murphy said.

Many blog sites are cheaper than operating a website and allow CUs to offer information on their brand and expertise directly to the community. “Blog sites allow interaction, and they should be the hub of a credit union’s online presence.”

YouTube is also valuable, she said, recommending all CUs start their own YouTube channel. “People don’t want to read text, they want to watch video,” she said. “Get a video camera, record some testimonials and put them up on YouTube.” Another video idea: make short clips on how the credit union solves problems for members.

Murphy said people are looking to connect with other people, and the growth of social media is the proof and provides a “white knight” opportunity for CUs. “Let Realtors get to know your credit union, and let them see how your credit union can fill a niche.”

Michael Bartlett is a reporter for Credit Union Journal.