Once the playground of teen Instagrammers and sexy fashion brands, social media is now everyone’s business.
Whether it’s for boosting your SEO or building strong and engaged client relationships, social media is an important tool for financial advisors. With 49% of Australians aged between 40 and 49, and 37% of people aged between 50 and 64 using social media, communication via online platforms is an effective way to engage with your prospects and clients and receive referrals.
And yet, the business world is still catching up.
According to the Australian Sensis survey, many businesses still lack knowledge and direction about how to use social media. 49% of SMEs and 45% of large businesses say they have invested money in social media but don’t know how much and 80% of SMEs and 37% of large businesses have not developed a social media strategy.
So how do we move from cups of coffee and friendly handshakes to online networking and good use of social media? Here’s my top 5 tips for financial planners who want to crack the social media code:
- Get your messaging right
What kind of clients do you serve? Who is your dream customer? Some financial advisors may concentrate on high net worth families or individuals, others may focus on SMEs. When you clearly define your personal brand, hone in on your marketing message, show a mix of professionalism and personality and speak to your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) with messages that resonate, you are far more likely to connect with your desired audience and acquire new clients along the way. In fact, in the US, 85% of financial advisors use social media for business with 85% also saying that social media shortened the selling cycle.
2. Know your platform
Social media is just another form of communication however it helps to know the tips and tricks for different platforms. For example, setting up a professional LinkedIn profile is very different to crafting a short Twitter bio on Twitter. For example, the US Putnam survey revealed that Facebook is showing continued platform for advisor growth, LinkedIn is most popular platform.
Here’s some quick tips on some of the primary platforms:
- LinkedIn is a popular place to start for many financial advisors. 62% of financial advisers reported getting new clients on LinkedIn and 63% of mass affluent consumers take action after using social media to learn about financial products and services. Start by reaching out to people you know, like and respect from school, university, personal networks or previous workplaces. Remind of them of how you met, mention any mutual friends or connections and give them an idea about how you could offer them (or their clients) some value. A premium LinkedIn account can also help you reach out to anyone you want to connect with (including prospects), beyond your 1st degree connections. Search by personal interests, function, experience, seniority level, company size, etc.
- Twitter: According to Social Media Today, 45% of Twitter’s adult account holders are interacting with financial services firms on the platform. Select a short and recognizable handle, create a punchy and memorable bio (with 1 or 2 URLs), schedule tweets to go out at the most ‘engaged’ time and make your tweets shareable or ‘clickable’. Add other people’s twitter handles, tag important influencers and link back to valuable articles. Twitter is also great for repurposing or sharing original content that you’ve posted elsewhere – including blog posts, webinars or press articles.
- Facebook: If you’re not on Facebook you should be. It’s not just a platform for sharing a picture of your latest dinner creation or your gorgeous grandkids – there’s over 1 billion monthly users. Create a Facebook business page and let users rate your service, share useful content with your followers and implement a Facebook advertising strategy or content marketing funnel for more leads.
Above all, make sure you understand your audience and engage with them in a genuine way, just as you would if you were ‘offline’.
3. Position yourself as the expert
Be the ‘go to’ person in financial planning by expressing your opinions on various platforms. As observed in Adviser Ratings, social media can help financial planners and advisers understand what other industry experts are saying and tap into the industry zeitgeist. You can follow influencers on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, for example, and contribute to topics that prospective clients are interested in. Having a strong online presence helps you to stay abreast of current trends, show integrity and build credibility. Publish professional articles on LinkedIn to demonstrate your technical knowledge and expertise or share your business blogs on Facebook and Twitter. You may also want to contribute to blogging and customer query platforms such as Quora or Medium to highlight your brand and professional experience.
4. Share useful content
Professional articles can help you establish serious industry street cred. Not only do they allow you to showcase your level of technical knowledge, sharing and developing content demonstrates that you are accessible and it increases your overall online visibility. The most important rules: always be consistent, engaging and interesting. Share content, marketing information, finance tips and industry news that your audience can relate to and put to good use in their daily lives. You can set up Google alerts to help you find trending topics to discuss, or subscribe to publications like Money Management, the Australian Financial Planning Magazine or Professional Planner. When you publish a piece on LinkedIn or Facebook, remember to share those posts in industry groups for further connection and impact and pop in a Call to Action (CTA) in each post so your audience knows what step to take next, after reading (and hopefully enjoying!) your content.
5. Engage and be authentic
Don’t think that just because finance is a ‘serious’ game, that you need to be strictly business all the time. People want to engage a financial adviser that they know, like and trust – and one that makes them laugh. Here’s some different ways you can send out some interesting, personal and professional vibes all at once:
- Use videos and images: Don’t forget that platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and twitter are visual platforms. Engagement rates are much higher when you use visuals (the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text). Video content will soon represent 74% of all internet traffic.
- Remember the 80/20 rule: 20% of the time show the personal side of your brand, 80% of the time post business content that offers real value.
- Join in the conversation: Posting a great article and then failing to respond to comments about that article may leave your audience feeling flat. If someone leaves a comment on one of your posts or asks a question, make sure you (or your assistant or marketing assistant) respond as soon as possible. If they have taken the time to engage and respond, they may be someone who will seek out your business in the future and they become a potential sales lead. Ie, “Thanks for liking this post. I’d love to answer any more questions you have about superannuation. Feel free to get in touch anytime.”
Social media mastery should be one of the handy weapons in your digital marketing armory. Think of it as another important way to communicate with your clients, build long-term relationships, create and nurture leads, establish your credibility and provide excellent customer service.
Chris Wrightson. Founder and CEO at Centurion Market Makers, the industry experts in the sale, acquisition and management of financial planning firms. If you’re planning on selling your firm in 2017, we’d love you to call us for a confidential discussion, or continue browsing our website for more tips, tools and info on the steps to take when buying or selling your financial planning firm.
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