If you’re like many independent financial advisors, you’ve been hearing for awhile now that you need to start using social media to promote your business. But you’re not totally convinced yet that tweeting, liking, posting or connecting via social media is going to do anything to grow your firm.
Or maybe you do believe that social media could be a great way to attract new clients to your firm, but you’re not sure how to get started. Because social media is mainly for Millennials who want to stay in touch virtually, or parents and grandparents who want to keep up with what their kids and grandkids are doing … right?
Not necessarily. Businesses in a wide range of industries are now using social media as an effective marketing tool. This includes independent financial advisors, up to half of whom say they have successfully used social media to convert prospects into clients. And three out of four independent financial advisors believe that social media can be useful in boosting assets under management.
What’s more, investors are increasingly turning to social media for investing information. A study recently conducted by Sysomos and Marketwired determined that 40% of all investors — and 60% of next-generation investors — use social media as a key source for investment information.
Start one platform at a time
The challenge for many independent financial advisors who want to implement a social media marketing plan is knowing how to get started. About half of independent financial advisors say they’re not sure which social media platforms they should use or what kind of social media messages they should post and share with clients and prospects.
Some social media marketing experts recommend starting with one platform and focusing your time and attention on this, instead of spreading yourself thin among several different platforms. To decide which one, try to determine where the bulk of your clients and prospects are spending their social media time.
LinkedIn is often considered to be the most “professional” social media platform, so this may a good place to start. You can join relevant LinkedIn discussion groups, which will enable you to send personalized messages to other members of the group. You can also post your articles and blogs using the LinkedIn publishing tool.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable using LinkedIn, you can begin experimenting with other platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. Tools are available that enable you to share a single piece of content across multiple social media platforms with a single click.
Tips for social media success
Here are five suggestions for successfully incorporating social media into your firm’s marketing plan:
1. Keep your social media presence consistent with your personal brand. If you are positioning yourself and your firm a certain way in the physical world, make sure this carries over into the virtual world. This includes not only your areas of financial specialty or expertise, but also your personality.
Some independent investment advisors are hesitant to do this, but remember that most people like to do business with other people, not with a nameless corporation or firm. So let your personality shine through by sharing things like your personal interests, passions, hobbies, charitable causes and family members via your social media profile.
2. Post and share new content on a regular basis. Social media platforms are the perfect vehicle for distributing content to your target audience. This content may take the form of articles, blogs, videos, commentaries, whitepapers and the like.
If you have access to a library of content that has already been pre-approved by Compliance, use your social media channels to post, share and tweet this content. You can also share (with the proper attribution) other content you find online that would be helpful to your clients and prospects. Either way, strive to post and/or share content consistently, such as one or two times a week.
3. Don’t use a hard-sell approach. The fastest way to lose followers is to use social media to make a hard-sell pitch for your services. Instead, you want to use social media to strengthen your brand, increase name recognition, communicate your expertise, bolster your reputation, and build relationships with your customers and prospects. The best way to do this is to create, post and share helpful, relevant and educational content, rather than any kind of promotional content.
4. Interact with your clients and prospects on social media. Social media is a two-way street, so your goal should be to generate ongoing dialog with your target audience. One of the easiest ways to do this is to promptly reply to comments that your followers make about the content you post and share.
For example, suppose a follower posts a comment to an article you wrote about retirement planning. You could reply by saying something like: “I’m glad you enjoyed my article! Do you have any questions about planning for your retirement? If so, please feel free to contact me.” This turns a simple social media conversation into a sales lead.
5. Make sure your social media efforts meet all legal and Compliance requirements. This is crucial because running afoul of Compliance with social media activities can result in fines and other negative repercussions, including damage to your reputation. So be sure to check with Compliance before implementing your social media posts to make sure that your planned activities meet not only regulatory requirements, but also any specific requirements your firm might have.
Get in the game!
If you’ve been sitting on the social media sidelines due to skepticism or a lack of understanding or knowledge, now is the time to get in the game and give social media a try. As you do, keep these suggestions in mind to help increase your chance of success.