15 Easy Ways to Grow Your Business Quickly Using Social Media
It’s easier than ever to turn strangers into clients by harnessing the power of social media. A proven tool used to gain new business and build closer relationships with your clients, Financial Advisors should opt in to use social media.
Follow these 15 tips to help you use social media effectively:
- Understand your firm’s social media policy. First and foremost, it’s important to tread carefully to meet compliance regulatory requirements. It’s extremely important that you understand your corporate policy and contact your compliance department with questions.
- Define your audience. Many financial advisors specialize so it’s important to determine your niche market. Do you target high tech founders? Health care professionals? Business owners? High net worth multi-generational families? Select the social media platform used by your clients so you can communicate effectively.
- Define your personal brand. This is often the hardest concept to grasp for newcomers to social media. Your brand is simply a consistent reflection of who you are. Define your special talents and areas of expertise that help your clients succeed. Reveal your personal interests and show your authentic self, but be careful to avoid politics, religion, or controversial opinions as they exclude possible clients that hold a different view and may negatively impact your business.
- Invest in a professional photo. Your photo is one of the most important elements of your social media profile. Unless your business requires photos taken by the firm’s corporate photographer, make the investment and hire a professional photographer. Profiles without photos are met with skepticism, suspicion, and are generally ignored. Your profile photo should reflect how you look when meeting with clients, not some random photo of you on vacation.
- Select a social media platform. If you’re new to social media, it’s best to start out slow. We recommend selecting one platform initially and create an account to use for business only. LinkedIn is a favorite place to start for many financial advisors, but some also use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even SnapChat. Once you become familiar with one platform, you can experiment with others, but make sure to keep your brand consistent across all social media accounts.
- Create a social media profile with compliance in mind. It can be tricky navigating the rules as a financial advisor using social media, but don’t let regulations sway you from using social. You want to demonstrate your knowledge and showcase your firm, but you must do so without crossing certain lines. Most of the larger financial services firms have their own set of rules and interpretations of regulations, so make sure you are familiar with these rules before you even create an account on a social media platform. Once your profile is complete, your firm may require that it is reviewed by your compliance team.
- Build your network. Once your profile is set up and approved by compliance, reach out to people you know and invite them to become a connection on LinkedIn. Custom written notes are key, so don’t just click on “Connect.” Although quick and easy, those invitations will be sent with a standard message. Carefully crafted introductions remind people of how you know them, how you could provide value, and perhaps mention any mutual connections. Initially, reach out to people you know and like from various stages of your life. For new LinkedIn users, strive for about 250 connections, but 500 is even better.
- Listen and learn. Before you take any actions on social media, watch what others are doing. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like. Look at your competitors’, colleagues’, and friends’ posts. If you see a personal connection with a “life event” such as a birth or graduation of a child, a move, a promotion, or perhaps retirement, consider reaching out by phone to offer a genuine congratulations and to catch up. There are many stories of financial advisors who used a combination of social media and the phone to gain new clients.
- Engage. Once you feel comfortable, begin to join the conversation to provide value and be helpful. Social media is a two-way street. Be generous with information and helpful. Depending on your firm’s policy, you may elect to add a comment, “like,” or “share your connections’ content. Some firms allow this, others don’t.
- Share useful content. Many financial services firms have libraries of articles that have already been pre-approved by compliance that you may share on social media. Share the content that matches your personal brand, demonstrates your specific expertise, and is of interest to your clients/followers. Be consistent.
- Be authentic. .If allowed by your firm, personalize the message of content from the library so that it’s in your own voice. If permitted, also find and share additional articles that will be of interest to your clients and prospects. To make this less time consuming, you can set up alerts on Google for topics of interest. Blogging is also an effective (albeit time consuming) way to demonstrate that you are an authority in your field. As with everything, check your firm’s policy before proceeding.
- Show your personal side. When posting content, remember the 80/20 rule. Consider posting 80% business content and 20% personal content that reflects your brand. Remember, we do business with people we like and who share our passions.
- Use social media for research and prospecting. Conduct research and craft personalized introductions that convey why people may want to connect to you. If they agree, thank them with another note. Your business may have templated communications for this purpose. Use the tagging feature on LinkedIn to categorize these connections for easier ongoing follow-up. Some financial advisors immediately ask for a meeting at this point. However, you may find it more effective to watch and engage and get to know someone a bit first. Share an article or something useful, so they can see where you add value. Use social media to demonstrate expertise and build trust over time.
- Avoid pitfalls. If you’re allowed to venture past the library of preapproved content, be careful to both stay compliant, and to protect your personal brand. Be sure to read an article before you share it. In the world of “click bait,” the headline may be vastly different than the article itself. Avoid “fake news” by only sharing content from reputable outlets, such as well-known newspapers, magazines, and networks. Remember to include the links to the articles and make sure they’re working. Make it a habit to be active on social media to avoid creating a “ghost town.”
- No pitching. And finally, no selling products. No one likes being pitched on social media and it may violate industry rules around suitability. Instead, move the conversation towards your traditional channels of one-to-one communications, such as email and phone, when it becomes more business oriented.
Social Media: By The Numbers
- 83% of financial advisors use social media for business
- 92% gained new clients resulting in nearly $5 million in average asset gain directly attributable to social media use
- 85% said that social media shortened the selling cycle
Data according to the Putnam Social Advisor Survey of 1,021 financial advisors in partnership with NMG consulting.