5 Steps to Social Media Success for Financial Advisors
When it comes to finding ways to increase client engagement and growth, financial advisors don’t need more tools – we need to help them find easier ways to use the tools they have more effectively. Social media is a great example of this.
“What we have today is so under-utilized. CRM and the other sources of data we have at our fingertips could be helping us identify insights and better ways to engage clients,” says Gavin Spitzner in his recent conversation with WealthManagement.com’s David Armstrong.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it huge and rapid shifts in how we live and do business. As people were pushed into lockdowns, the rates of online engagement increased dramatically around the world and will not likely slow down anytime soon.
According to SocialPilot, Facebook currently has 2.74 billion active users, Instagram has 1.15 billion, and Twitter has 353 million. In a world now fueled by digital interactions, if financial advisors do not speak to clients and prospects where they are spending time – online – they risk losing opportunities to connect and add value.
Wealth management firm clients are being bombarded everyday with financial information from many sources – except from their trusted financial advisors. This is why at ReachStack we advocate for more frequent and personalized email communication with clients. Data shows that increasing the frequency of communications between an advisor and their clients results in increased client engagement. Plus, it also provides valuable data on what topics clients and prospects are most interested in.
Another important channel for nurturing client engagement is social media, an important gateway to online community building, news sharing, and client touch points. If you’ve been resisting getting started with social media, or are not sure how to build on what you’ve already created, keep on reading.
Step 1: Know What Value You Offer
Many people who get started on social media don’t really have clarity about what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s not unusual for an advisor to get started on social media, only to drop it when it doesn’t seem to be working. But most of those people haven’t clarified what “it” is, nor what “working” would look like.
One caveat worth remembering is that if you expect that social media can be used as an advertising platform, from which you’ll receive immediate meeting bookings with new clients, you’re going to be disappointed. Social media is a long game – like a good networking group. You need to show up, add value, and put the time and effort into building your online presence. Just like in those great in-person networking groups, people will start to give you their attention when they think you’re going to stick around and participate.
When you think about those groups where you built a strong network, how often did you meet clients directly there? It’s more likely, just like with social media, that you would meet professionals with whom you could partner strategically. Online, this can mean not only centers of influence who may trust you enough to refer their clients to you, but also journalists and reporters who are looking for your expertise.
Takeaway: As with any business or marketing strategy, it makes sense to understand what you hope to achieve in social media and to focus your strategy on that.
Step 2: Get Compliance On Your Side
Navigating a new communication platform (or, realistically, several) is just the beginning of your challenges. You also need to think about your firm’s compliance regime and industry regulatory bodies. Social media is a public platform – so even though it’s personal and, if you’re doing it right, conversational, it’s also not dissimilar to appearing on television or publishing a book. Everyone and anyone can watch, so you need to consider whether what you’re putting out there is, in fact, for everyone and anyone.
That means being cautious about what you share. You wouldn’t recommend the same financial planning strategy to everyone. You wouldn’t tell everyone to invest in this particular stock or fund. You would want to know that each individual is getting the right advice for them – so you won’t give specific advice on a public platform anymore than you would if you were being interviewed on television.
Stick to sharing content and ideas that promote good financial habits and create interest in your brand of expertise. For many investors, there is greater risk in poor decision making driven by fear and overconfidence than in battling inevitable market corrections. Behavioral economics, psychology, and effective habits will keep your audience engaged and curious – while keeping your compliance department happy.
Takeaway: Share content that your target clients want, like investing and saving tips, all while keeping your compliance department happy and following your firm’s social media policy.
Step 3: Choose the Right Social Networks
Social media is not just one homogeneous cluster of tools, but a collection of platforms designed around the people who use them and how they want to communicate. Just like in real life, where you might choose to attend this event rather than that one for a variety of reasons that might include the other attendees, your own interest, or the location, you’ll want to pick the platforms that make the most sense for you and your business.
It’s important to remember that each platform has its own set of social norms, just like real life. You’d wear a suit and tie to an event at the local business club, while you would wear something a bit more casual to the golf course. At a networking event that’s all about speedy connections, you’ll walk up to anyone and start chatting, while an event with a more educational focus is going to require a different kind of discussion. Social media platforms work in a similar way, and mastering etiquette is going to help you make connections with staying power.
LinkedIn: This professional, business-focused platform is a great way to share key information about yourself and your business, while engaging with other professionals who may become part of your network. Potential clients can search you and find your credentials – and even potentially view recommendations given by other LinkedIn users (now permissible in the US, subject to criteria specified by the SEC’s Rule 206). You can find new team members, consultants, and speaking opportunities. LinkedIn groups focused on your areas of expertise and interest provide you with communities for great discussions, and potentially other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, who are looking for someone just like you to help their clients.
Twitter: A very public platform with interactions of all kinds, you’re limited here by 280 characters per tweet and no edit button – so think before you hit that “tweet” button. This platform is less about posting information about you and more about joining existing conversations. Find your fellow advisors, accountants, lawyers, and business gurus who are chatting up a storm and asking questions. Connect with journalists looking for experts to interview and share articles you know that your news-hungry Twitter audience is searching for.
Facebook: A very personal platform where people come to connect with friends and family. Create a business page and share great information about your business, articles you’re writing, and news flashes individuals will want to know about. Demonstrate your warmth and community spirit here with images of your team and ways you are contributing.
Instagram: This simple platform is about images, photos, and videos. Just like Facebook, you’ll want to be a little more personal here, demonstrating the very human side of your business.
TikTok: One of the newest social media platforms, TikTok is attracting many eyeballs looking to be informed and entertained by short videos (most are 30-60 seconds, or up to 3 minutes).
To help you find out what social media platforms people are using, check out SocialPilot’s 2021 social media statistics.
Takeaway: Find out what social networks your clients are using and then learn how to engage with them on those platforms.
Step 4: Brand Yourself Appropriately
The way you look online matters, but at least you don’t have to put the same effort in every single day, as you would at the office.
A great, and up-to-date headshot is important. On a professional platform like LinkedIn, you’ll want a more traditional look, but a more relaxed or candid snapshot can express your personality on other platforms. While you probably did look outstanding in the headshot you took 10 years ago, posting a very old photo is not only somewhat insincere, but also very confusing for that person who finally connects with you on a video conference call. Get comfortable with your slightly older face and post photos that look like you. Your connections aren’t looking for a fashion model, they’re looking for someone they can trust. Your realistic photos say a lot about your willingness to be honest.
Who you associate with matters as well and online, everyone can tell who you are connected with. Actively following and engaging with people, as well as following those who follow you, is a great way to build your online community. However, you do not want your accounts connected with those that might tarnish your brand. Stock promoters, bitcoin enthusiasts, and scammers hawking get-rich-quick ‘systems’ for day trading can make you look shady just by association. Make friends, just not with everyone.
Takeaway: The more professional you appear, the more clients will trust you. Take time to refine your headshots, cover photos and biographies to stand out from the crowd.
Step 5: Share Value, Consistently
Social media is NOT a sales channel. It’s not the commercials between TV shows. Your compliance department will thank you to remember that – and your community will too.
Just as you wouldn’t walk into a cocktail reception and start hard-selling partygoers the moment you arrive, you need to take the time to connect with and get to know your online people too. You know that the in-person connections you make are solidified when those people find you add value. Perhaps you can help them grow their business, or you show an interest in something meaningful to them.
Maybe you have expertise they’ve been seeking, and you are consistent in your approach. Everyone likes having reliable friends. Be the type of person who just keeps showing up, being useful, and helping others out. In fact, according to research by ThinkAdvisor, 73% of individuals surveyed said personalized, educational and insightful content would make an advisor’s marketing stand out among its competitors.
This is often where social media and other forms of digital marketing fall apart. You come out of the gate like a firecracker, then after a while, you get busy and your time spent online starts to fall off. As part of our automated email newsletter service, Reachstack offers high-quality content subscriptions that ensure your client communications are relevant and consistent. These same sources of quality content could be used for your social media engagement activities as well.
Treat your social media community in the same way you would treat the other business communities you engage with. Add time to your calendar to spend there. Don’t do it off the side of your desk, when you have a moment. And think about how frequently you can consistently stay in touch – for the long term. You’re better off posting once a week forever than every day for a month and stopping entirely. Make a plan, and stick to it.
Takeaway: Sharing personalized and educational content regularly is essential to win the trust and attention of clients and prospects.
Digital is the Future of Client Engagement
While the medium might very well be the message in some respects, it’s important to remember that you’re not connecting with the platform, or the internet. You’re connecting with people, real human beings, who want to be treated as such, whether you meet them online or in person. Do this, consistently and reliably, and you’ve cracked the code for effective social media as a financial advisors.