As you can imagine, social media is a hot topic in the financial services sector. At presentations and in conversations with advisors, I am constantly asked for tips and suggestions about what works and what doesn’t. Social media invariably comes up in the consultations our clients have with our coaching staff as well.
While this article will only scratch the surface, it should get the wheels in motion for you as you research your own social media strategy going forward. And consider this, while your success as a financial advisor doesn’t hinge on embracing social media, it is inevitable that the wave will continue to grow to the point where social media will become an indispensable and productive utility in business. So why not ride the wave?
It’s Not Too Late to Become an Early Adopter of Social Media
Clearly social media is not new. Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and others have been around for a quite few years now. For a variety of reasons though, including compliance, lack of free time and the perceived complexity for making it worthwhile, most of the advisors who have engaged in a social media strategy have really only dabbled to this point. Furthermore, while the existing players may hit a saturation point and plateau (as it seems is the case with Facebook), the concept of social media is here to stay.
Don’t Major in Minor Things
Social media can play a complementary role in your business building efforts. Just be sure to keep your priorities clear to make social media work. You shouldn’t pursue social media at the expense of your core advisor productivity strategies such as a call rotation, advocate process, service matrix, etc. That said, if your foundational systems and procedures are in place and being consistently deployed, social media can bolt on nicely and can become a powerful business development solution.
Start With the People Who Are Already Convinced
As a starting point, the most powerful benefit of social media is enabling you to efficiently strengthen your existing relationships with clients and partners. You can’t take existing relationships for granted. A natural “loyalty fatigue” can develop over time and you have to continually communicate your value in order to competitor-proof your relationships, uncover new opportunities and attract referrals. And when it comes to referrals, social media can be the final frontier, and here’s why. When a client is talking to a friend and you come up in the conversation, it is much easier for your client to steer his or her friend to your content than it is to introduce them to you directly. Social media can become a bridge to help prospective clients get to know you before they even meet you.
The Power of Predisposition
All prospective clients have a current financial services provider that they will contrast you to when they first come in contact with you. Social media can enable you to activate the Relationship Cycle, which unfolds as follows:
- Create Awareness – they get to kick the tires in privacy without fear of being pressured
- Develop Interest – they get to know you and your approach at their own pace
- Establish Trust – contrast is established and they become self-motivated
- Earn Empowerment – they are at a stage-of-readiness to meet with you and become a client
- Generate Endorsements – they are able to introduce you to the people they know
Don’t Sell, Educate!
You want your followers to have anticipation for your communications, not apprehension. If you have a mindset of stewardship rather than salesmanship, you develop a “Trusted Guru” status that ensures your postings get read and get forwarded. This is essential if you want your strategy to go viral.
All Roads Lead to Content
Become a content machine! Develop a habit where your knowledge and insights can become valuable intellectual properties that can be shared. You can create case-studies, white papers, and your own tip of the week with topical commentary on the fly. If you want to go from “surface to serious”, you can create a multimedia strategy with webinars, podcasts and even create your own YouTube channel for video postings. Obviously you need to get into a rhythm with compliance so as to not be out of bounds or lose your momentum, but the branding possibilities are immense.
The Power of Integration
One of the most remarkable aspects of social media is seamless convergence. All of your micro-blogging efforts and other postings can be efficiently integrated to give you maximum reach with minimal effort. I don’t want to oversimplify things because social media requires a balance of knowledge and effort. But if you are a serious student learning as you go and you set realistic expectations, you will incrementally gather momentum and get into a groove.
Knowledge is Power
With a little research and some trial and error, you can launch a simple “surface” campaign and run it yourself at a cost of about an hour a day. Remember, contrary to the old cliché, time is NOT money. Time is more valuable and the best way to ensure a solid ROI is to develop a skill set and be consistent and patient. If you want to get “serious”, I suggest you interview some consulting firms who specialize in social media support. But don’t out-source the work entirely. Instead, work along side the firm so that you can hold them accountable and learn valuable skills that will serve you going forward.
Contributed by Duncan MacPherson