If I told you I’m a digital marketing consultant and can help you succeed on social media, what would you say? When I meet with financial advisors to discuss digital marketing, the first question they usually ask is, “How does social media work?” My answer is always the same, “Social media isn’t magic. You won’t join LinkedIn today and tomorrow a complete stranger will write a check for $500k.” If you want to achieve success on social media, then you need to put in the work.
If you don’t know where to get started or how to use social media for business (which is very different than using it personally) it’s a good idea to reach out to an expert who can provide guidance, teach best practices and help build a social media marketing strategy. Now if only we knew someone who could do that. (wink wink)
The truth is being successful on social media isn’t hard. Financial advisors (or any profession) will get out of it what’s put into it. Not everyone wants to be online for the same reasons: some financial advisors want to prospect new clients in a target demographic, some want to become an expert in a specific niche and others want to have a presence to control what readers see when they type your name into Google.
Of course, the strategy for each business is tailored depending on the unique goals and the amount of time required depends on what you want to achieve; but in a nutshell, being successful on social media comes in three easy steps. Yes, that’s it, all it takes are three easy steps and you’re on your way to social media success.
Three things you need to succeed on social media:
Get active everyday
Social media networks are a place for financial advisors to make new connections and keep in contact with existing clients. However, no one is going to get in touch with you if you have nothing to say. The first step to succeeding on social media is to stay active everyday.
Social sharing should always have a purpose, don’t just share for the sake of sharing. Your content should answer a question, share a useful tip or provide helpful information. It should also relate to you somehow i.e. your profession, your personal life or your geographic location. Information shared on social networks doesn’t always have to be proprietary, you can share and retweet posts from others in your network.
If you get stuck, an easy action plan includes sharing:
- Something from your website (such as a blog post)
- A helpful tool (like a retirement calculator)
- A photo of a local event (maybe from a social media account you follow)
- A news, industry or regulatory headline (helpful information for your readers)
- A photo or video related to your personal interests or professional expertise
And voila! Now you have a full week of content to share on your social networks.
Please keep in mind that social media isn’t spam because your posts go into a stream, not into an inbox. Also remember that followers chose to connect with you – you aren’t sending emails to random strangers, you’re sharing with your connections. Sharing more often than not helps readers get to know you and your area of expertise as well as helps rank higher in search engine results. So, the more the merrier!
Stay engaged with your audience
Keeping active on a daily basis is the first step towards social media success, the second is engaging with your network. Sure, social media is about sharing, but that doesn’t mean sending information out into cyberspace without purpose or an intended audience.
Just as you want people to like and share your content, you should do the same. Take 10 minutes out of your week (We all have 10 minutes to spare, no matter how busy you are, it’s just 10 minutes) and interact with your network – after all it is called social networking. Take your best relationship management practices and use them online.
Wish someone a happy birthday, congratulate someone on their new job, like posts by your connections and share content from your followers. Every time you do, the person is sent an alert and your name pops up in front of their eyes. Can you think of a better way to keep in touch with referral partners and prospective clients?
Let’s start right now, book your calendar for 10 minutes every Monday morning to get online and start building relationships.
Continue growing your network
Can you ever have enough clients or centers of influence? I think most financial advisors would say no. The same is true with online connections. Quality is definitely better than quantity, but with over 500 million users on LinkedIn, I’m sure you can find a few to connect with. Give yourself a goal and start making at least 10 new connections every week.
One question I always get asked is, “Should I accept everyone who sends me an invitation?” My answer is yes. Anyone could potentially be your client and you don’t know why someone wants to connect until you accept their invitation and ask. My advice is to always check out the person’s LinkedIn profile before requesting to connect. If there is absolutely no potential for a working relationship then you don’t need to accept, however 9 times out of 10 it’s beneficial to make new connections.
If you’re not sure where to start, send requests to connect with:
- Current colleagues
- Former co-workers
- Clients (stay in touch after your recent meeting)
- Potential clients (learn about them prior to your first meeting)
- Centers of influence
- Thought leaders and industry professionals
- Local business owners (great referral sources)
- Personal interest connections (let them learn about your professional services)
The best (and most efficient) way to continue growing your network is to use the features LinkedIn offers under the My Network tab on the top tool bar. LinkedIn recommends new people for you to connect with based on your profile information (location, employer, school etc.) and existing connections. Once again, the more the merrier when networking online.