No matter where you look, there are countless articles on the importance of a social media presence for advisors. Social media is nothing new, and while many advisors have established a profile on at least one social network, it simply isn’t enough to create value.
Social media profiles need to be more than a warehouse to store your name, photo, and credentials. As an advisor, you need to provide an online home where your community can gather, engage with you, and find valuable resources.
Today, 80% of Americans from Gen Y to early Boomers are active internet users, and 75% of this group prefer to obtain insight from the web. Blogs and social networks prove to be the primary destinations to gather knowledge and information. (Webvisor – The Financial Advisors Guide to the Internet)
Take a moment to think about how the exchange of breaking news has changed over the past decade. Social media provides us with a vast amount of knowledge nearly instantaneously with the click of a mouse or the touch of our fingertip on a mobile device. We are able to communicate across the globe in a matter of seconds, expand the reach of our message to much larger groups of people, build a strong brand for our businesses, and dramatically reduce marketing costs.
Social media is something you must do. It can’t be ignored or left on auto pilot, but should be an extension of the marketing you are already doing. Moving forward, investors will not forgive you for a lack of social presence. You will simply be forgotten.
While much focus regarding social media has been placed on the benefits for your firm, I think it is time to move your attention to what investors expect and need from you. The investors of today are sending a blaring message to the financial industry, as reported in a study by Finect:
“We’re open to talking on social media and likely to listen and engage – if we can find you.”
If this message isn’t enough to grab your attention, take a look at some of the key findings on the trends of social media use among investors:
YOUR PEERS ARE USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Research indicates that the internet has become a core decision making tool for consumers. A decade ago, business cards and brochures where enough to suffice the inquiring minds of prospective clients. A stand-alone brochure is no longer enough to gain the respect and trust of prospective clients. Let’s fast forward to today; you meet someone for the first time, or a client gives your name to a friend looking for an advisor – what happens? More than likely, they look online to learn more about you. An online presence serves as your validation and, when done correctly, positions you as a leader and expert in the industry.
Let’s take a closer look at how your peers are using social media:5 Reasons Social Media Matters to Financial Advisors/Sherry Chen/The Digital FA
WHAT INVESTORS WANT FROM ADVISORS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Investors want to engage. It is critical to understand what types of information they are looking for and then follow through and provide it to them. To create a social strategy that will produce results for your firm, take a look at what investors say are the most important interactions that make a difference, in order of investor importance:Finect – Individual Investors Social Media Behavior Report
INVESTORS DON’T WANT A SALES PITCH
It is just as important to understand what investors don’t want from you through social media. Constant sales pitches, seemingly entertaining updates, and personal information can turn off a potential client in a matter a seconds. Here is what investors say are the least important forms of dialogue:
- Highlights from personal life
- Topics not related to finance
- Online events
- Business information (fee structure, special expertise)
- Promotions and sales pitches
- Personal information
The study did note that some investors feel it is acceptable for advisors to share personal information on a Facebook profile, but not other professional social media channels. *Source in above statistics: Finect – Individual Investors Social Media Behavior Report
THE TOP 5 SOCIAL MEDIA FEATURES INVESTORS PREFER WHEN CHOOSING AN ADVISOR
Investors are looking for quality information rather than quantity. They don’t care if you have thousands of connections, fans, and followers. What is important is your ability to provide them with benefits. Investors cite the following as the most important social media features when it comes to choosing an advisor:Finect – Individual Investors Social Media Behavior Report
7 SOCIAL MEDIA STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE NOW
David Drucker, an independent financial advisor and industry author and speaker, addresses the first hurdle that advisors need to clear:“It all starts with the electronic world round us. We use these new communication tools every day when we click a Web site link that plays a video, or when we read an e-zine received by e-mail, or when we make a new connection on www.LinkedIn.com (or any other social-or-business-networking Web site). What most of us don’t do, though, is take the next logical step, which is to appreciate the power of these tools, first, and find out how to incorporate them into our own communications second.” -David Drucker, Keeping the Lines Open, Financial Planning Magazine
A vital piece to a successful social strategy stated by Drucker. Take the next logical step, appreciate the power of social media tools, and then incorporate them into your communication plan. The number of investors who prefer to interact with you through the internet or other social channels is growing and will continue to grow.
You must also take into consideration how you will serve and attract the next generation of clients. Current tactics won’t work with Next-Gen investors. Your firm needs to evolve with change, rather than expecting up and coming investors to revert to your outdated methods.
1. Create Social Media Profiles:
- Choose the social media networks you want to utilize. Think about where your clients and prospective clients are “hanging out” online. Be sure to meet them on their turf. If your clients use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, create profiles on all channels.
2. Pause Before You Post:
- Take time to observe how others are using social media. Monitor your competitors, clients, and strategic alliances.
3. Outline A Purpose For Social Media Activity:
- Define your desired market and determine the proper content and tone for your social activity. Give others a reason to connect with you on social media by providing information that is not available on your website or through other resources.
4. Be Relevant To Your Followers:
- Share information on topics relevant to your followers and engage them with interactive posts. Pay attention to the information that investors want to receive and share with their networks and add comments in response to encourage discussion.
5. Keep Your Branding Consistent:
- The style and imagery on your social media channels need to reflect the look and feel of your other business materials.
6. Create A Strong Network:
- Connect with your clients, strategic alliances, centers of influence, as well as industry experts. Once you have a solid network, social media allows you to connect with colleagues in your online community.
- Pay close attention to what others are saying on social media. Doing so can help you improve your social media strategy and identify opportunities for meaningful interaction with the people in your network. A client’s Facebook post may relate to a major life change that affects his or her financial planning.
As an additional resource, download Ironstone’s Social Media Implementation Guide. This guide serves as the foundation to begin your social media functions. You can download the guide here. Prior to implementing your plan, be certain to review with your compliance department.
It is likely that financial advisors who continue to ignore a digital strategy will become non-existent to their market and reduce their ability to gain additional market share. To maintain credibility, attract new clients, and win the trust of your market, you can no longer make excuses for lacking a social media plan.
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