I sat in on the social media panel held at the Schwab IMPACT conference.
- TJ Kelly, a social media strategist for Edelman Digital
- Jim Bell, an RIA and founder of Bell Investments
- Halah Touryalai, a journalist at Forbes.com
- Susan Forman, head of PR for Schwab’s RIA line of services
Kelly started off by saying that while social media has changed the way we communicate, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: content is king.
“Time and attention are finite,” Kelly said. “Let content define your social strategy for you; it is the most important piece. Before you jump into social media, understand what you will be doing with content first. And remember that people love a good story. Wrap your content in a story,” Kelly said.
Kelly also emphasized, and I agree, that social media is just one part of your digital strategy. “It is one piece of the larger pie. Keep it in perspective and don’t get caught up in craziness,” Kelly said.
To hammer home the point that content is king, Kelly cited the following statistics:
- 23% of all social media communications include links to content.
- 72 hours of video is uploaded YouTube every minute.
- 250 million photos are posted to Facebook daily.
- 42% of all tweets link to content, which is logical in that you can’t say much in 140 characters alone so linking to relevant content is essential.
Don't Be a Robot
Long-time journalist Halah Touryalai said that social media has changed the way journalists relate to their readers.
“It’s no longer just a reporter feeding information to the readers, Touryalai said. “Now, journalists can now hear immediately from readers—it’s so much more public and immediate,” she said.
Touryalai reminds advisors to “engage—you are not a robot. Be human; use your voice. Don't be so static online,” she encouraged.
I agree with Touryalai. People like an authentic voice. Being a three-dimensional professional can pay huge dividends. Leave the sterile content to others. You want people to come back and hear what you are saying. Don’t just share a link share some sort of comment or analysis—people want to know what you think.
Like Touryalai, I always suggest that firm-based communications on social media adopt a business casual tone. Mix it up. Show your human interests, passions and motivations—especially on Facebook. Another good idea from Touryalai, when there are a number of people posting on a social site that is representing the company’s brand versus an individual professional: have each person sign off on each post with their initials.
Don't Just Create More Noise
Kelly reminded the audience to think about what is creating noise, and to strive to ensure that their content was relevant and meaningful to the circles of people following them on any specific social media platform. Kelly emphasized that each of the social sites has a slightly different focus, tone and use. For instance, LinkedIn is a business professional networking site, Facebook tends to be more visual and more personal, Twitter is a great way to consume a lot of content in a short amount of time (especially if you are following thoughtful people who are interested in the same type of information or industry trend).
Social Media on the Rise
Social media is all about building trust and reputation. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust in social media is on the rise—from 8% in 2011 to 14% in 2012. Compare those trust-numbers to traditional news, which shows a smaller increase—29% in 2011 to 32% in 2012.
“We are seeing a diversification of media and trust in information sources,” Kelly said as he reminded us that reputation is based on past behavior. “63% need to see something 3-5 times before they begin to believe something; overcoming skepticism requires repetition. Social media is great way to build trust.”
More and more, social media is also driving search engine results. When you look at a keyword search for financial planners in any given location, the paid items will come up at the tops and sides of the page. Next on the page will be the items that are “owned” by relevant firms (such as websites and blogs). We are also now seeing social (e.g., LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook) and location-based listings (e.g., Google Profiles, Google ) come up on the first search page, along with articles published on traditional news sites and search-engine-optimized news releases.
I’ve written a lot about these strategies right here on Financial-Planning.com and I invite you to visit the Marketing Maven article archive to learn more there.
“What people see when they search can impact trust,” Kelly said. “So make sure to register your locations, set up a Google Profile, leverage Google and use relevant keywords on all of your online profiles, articles, blog posts, and so forth.”
Sixty percent of search results contain video, according to Kelly, and video can play a big part not just in search but also in how we influence perception. YouTube is still the second most popular search tool (next to Google), so producing and posting short videos to YouTube—along with the transcript of the video—is important.
Have a theme and stick to it, Kelly urged.
Beware the Sloppy Post
Touryalai shared a couple social media horror stories and reminded the audience that posts are not only public but can also be permanent.
“If you pitch me or I’m interested in learning more about you after a meeting at, say, a conference, the first thing I do is do a search online for you,” Touryalai said. “Be smart about what you post; your reputation depends on it. Think twice before posting—especially when posting from your mobile devices and when you are away from your normal office. Have fun but remember that there is still a line,” she cautioned. “Would you want everyone you work with to see this?”
Getting an Edge on Facebook
Facebook is all about the news feed. The algorithm determines what you see on your news feed. While the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm changes over time, the trick to being more visible is to get people interacting with your content.
“Engagement changes with who you interact with,” Kelly said. “15-20% of your content is seen based on the engagement—if they engage with your content, share it, like it, comment on it, then that improves the likelihood that your content will be seen in future news feeds. When you are putting content out there and it is not engaged with, but simply posted, the ranking goes down.”
Social Media Strategy
It’s important to think about your social media strategy, Kelly said. One sample approach:
- Use Twitter to engage with influencers and thought leaders in your space.
- Use LinkedIn to build relationships and offer or ask for introductions.
- Use Facebook to build your brand by leveraging your existing clients on Facebook—get people to share your content with their friends.
- Use YouTube to tell a visual story. Record webinars and videos for the story and the value of the content—but optimize the posts for search. Remember that YouTube is the second most popular search tool next to Google. It’s easy to use Flip cams, iPhones and webcams to record events—not everything has to have high production value. It’s easy to use the video editing tools.
- Don't forget about Google as it is important as a search strategy.
Creating/Curating Good Content
Few create content. Most curate and share someone else’s content with others. So you can set yourself apart by actually creating and sharing original content.
But serving as a content curator is also a good strategy to embrace. Be a resource; curate content worth sharing. Only 9% curate, leverage and share information; 90% simply consume it.
“If you have the content, you can drive the engagement,” Kelly said. “Content is the fuel that powers our stories and creates the most impact.”
In my next installment, I’ll provide some of the comments related to implementing a strong online presence that advisor Jim Bell shared with us during the Schwab IMPACT conference. I’ll also provide some of the insights from my double-decker social media presentation at the Barron’s Top Women Advisor’s Summit Nov. 29 in West Palm Beach (ladies—if you still have unanswered questions from the Barron’s conference, post them here and I will answer them on the Discussion thread below and/or in my next article for Financial Planning magazine).
And I have some really great notes from attending the first-ever Ladenburg Institute of Women in Finance in Miami Nov. 1-2. I’ll find time over the holiday break to sift out golden nuggets from the Women Entrepreneurs panel and the Women of the Ages panel—both of which produced lots of laughs, nods and ah-ha’s for the audience.
As always, if you’ll be attending any of the conferences below, tackle me and let’s chat. Otherwise, you can post your comments on the discussion thread below or interact with me on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
- Jan. 30 – Feb. 2: TD Ameritrade conference in San Diego
- Feb. 6: Sourcemedia private client event in New York City
- Feb. 11-13: T3 Technology Tools for Today conference in Miami (use code T32013IC to save $50)
- March 27: FPA Kansas City social media workshop in Overland Park, Kansas
- April 9-10: Tiburon CEO Summit XIV in Manhattan, New York
- May 14: National Trust Company of America conference in Las Vegas
- May 19-21: Investacorp national conference in Puerto Rico
- June 8-11: Securities America national conference in Anaheim
Marie Swift is a communications consultant in the financial services industry. Learn more at www.ImpactCommunications.org. Follow @marieswift on Twitter, “like” ImpactCommunicationsInc on Facebook, or search for Marie Swift on LinkedIn.