Social media is one of the most important but least understood marketing tools for financial advisors in business today.
Every time I talk with advisors, I ask, “are you using social media in your practice?” 80% of the time, the answer is either, “No,” or “We have a [Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn] account but we don’t really use it because we’re not sure how.” It is the rare occasion when I talk with an advisor who is an active user and proponent for using social media to grow his or her business.
THE KNOWING-DOING GAP
Many advisors acknowledge that social media is important in today’s digital age. Your prospects and clients are likely already hanging out on social media sites, so it makes sense for you to also be there so that they can find and interact with you. Most financial advisors understand that, much like having a good website, social media has become a standard part of doing business. However, there is a gap between knowing that it is important and taking action to execute a social media plan. Our goal as a marketing team for the advisors we partner with is to bridge the knowing-doing gap. We want to help make it easy and seamless to build social media into an advisor’s marketing plan and standard business practices.
For purposes of this piece, I will cover the four social media platforms that we recommend financial advisors integrate into their practice— all are compliance approved for use by nearly all broker/dealers. We do one-on-one social media training, as well as an ongoing training webinar series on more detailed areas of social media for financial advisors, for our Carson Group Partners. Again, we want to make it easy to integrate social media in order to help grow your business.
Blogging is an important piece of a content marketing strategy. Having an active blog with valuable content provides more opportunity for your business to be found by prospects and clients. It expands the depth and breadth of your website, giving search engines more chances to “find” your site. It also provides more links to engaging content for you to share via the other social media platforms. Finally, it helps to position you as the knowledge leader for financial expertise that you likely already are. Prospects can see, by reading your blog, that you and your team know about the complexities of financial planning and managing investments. Focus on answering questions, solving problems, and providing value to your target clients and you’ll increase leads to your website.
Why it’s important: Positioning, visibility and credibility to prospects and clients.
What you should do: Add a blog to your website. Set goals for posting and create a basic topic schedule, so that you and your team can consistently post on topics of interest.
When it comes to social media, Twitter is often the least used platform for financial advisors. Most advisors just don’t see the value of tweeting. However, there are some eye-opening reasons that advisors should be using Twitter: it is high-engagement/interaction and your ideal clients are probably already using it.
Your client base is probably already there – the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64 year olds. (Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, 2014) Also, it gets you in front of a different, younger audience to expand your prospect base. For those advisors considering the transfer of wealth starting to happen in the U.S., you cannot afford to ignore a huge, active, engaged audience of younger prospects. Twitter’s real value to financial advisors is that it allows users on-demand access to real-time information, a means to connect with anyone, anywhere and the ability to customize the user experience.
Why it’s important: Reach and engagement with a huge, active user base.
What you should do: Pick a unique handle, brand your profile* consistently with your other online properties and start engaging with others. Stay compliant, but allow your personality to show through your tweets. You’ll have a higher likelihood of attracting clients who are the right fit for your practice.
The social media platform most-used by financial advisors to connect with colleagues and clients is LinkedIn. In large part, it’s because it is usually the first social media network enabled for advisors by a broker/dealer. However, it’s also because LinkedIn is a trusted social platform for developing business relationships. It seems natural to connect with colleagues and business prospects through a platform that focuses on professional relationships.
Why it’s important: It’s one of the easiest ways to network. Users on LinkedIn are there to connect professionally, and with other professionals. What better environment for getting in front of your prospects?!
What you should do: Create a client-centric profile* (skip the buzzwords and jargon), set up archiving per your compliance guidelines, link to colleagues and clients, and get active in Groups. Search Centers of Influence (law & estate planning, CPAs, insurance) and your target client niches (by industry or profession) in your local area, and the get active in their relevant groups. Listen and participate in discussions, and reach out when you have items or events of interest. Get used to posting and sharing on your status updates. Consider writing and posting articles on key areas of interest on the LinkedIn Pulse section.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. Worldwide, there are more than 1.55 billion monthly active Facebook users, and more than 1.01 billion people log on daily. (Source: Facebook, 9/30/15)
Facebook can be a valuable social media platform for financial advisors to prospect new clients, because of the stickiness and personal nature of the application. On average, Americans spend 40 minutes engaged with Facebook per session. (Source: SproutSocial 6/20/15) People share major life events on Facebook, and many of those events have financial implications. A savvy advisor can use this social media tool to both develop new relationships and deepen existing relationships.
Why it’s important: Facebook is an aggregator for major life events that can be missed in the real world. It’s a personal tool that allows you to connect on a personal level—and personal relationships are what our profession is built on. It’s also a leading resource for product and service recommendations among friends.
What you should do: Create a personal account and a business page*. Once compliance approved, you can go live. Spend a few minutes every day catching up on the life events of your personal network, and reach out to connect on those events. Share content, articles, and interesting information on your professional page. Connect and communicate with prospects and clients.
CLOSING THE GAP
Increasingly, prospects come into a meeting already educated on your firm: they’ve visited your website, checked out your social media accounts and talked with other clients. They’ve investigated who you are, what you stand for, and how you do business. If you aren’t active on social media you’re likely losing prospects to your social media-savvy competitors, because you were “missing” when the prospect searched for you! Chief complaints among advisors are that maintaining social media accounts is time-consuming, they aren’t sure what content to post, and they don’t know how to work social media into other marketing initiatives. Social media can be so effective, and it doesn’t have to be complicated to work. We’ve helped our Carson Institutional Alliance Partner advisors by providing ongoing social media training throughout the year, along with scheduled content and integration with marketing our campaigns. Even if you aren’t a fit for partnership, you can use this handy Social Media Content Planning template to get started or improve your social media program for your financial planning practice.
How are you using Social Media to grow your business? What is your biggest question about social media for financial advisors? Tweet using #GrowthEdge to share your ideas or questions on social media for financial advisors to connect with our marketing team!
*Be sure to follow your broker/dealer’s guidelines for setting up profiles, archiving social media content, and posting.
For advisor use only. Not intended for client distribution.