There were immediate questions about broker-dealers and how they regulate the use of social media. Most big broker-dealers have instituted regulations that need to be followed to the letter; so far Raymond James has the best, most complete guidelines I have read. Everything one of their advisors does needs to go through their compliance department, especially at the beginning. Most larger broker-dealers have an archiving/compliance tool in place so advisors, at the very least, have that part of their practice covered.
My favorite question was: what if I receive negative feedback on a post? This is one of the greatest fears advisors have about posting to social media: the fear that their post will go viral in a negative way.
The probability is low, in fact, very low of this happening. But, none the less, if someone comments negatively to a post or comment you make on social media, engage them! Ask them why they feel that way, do not run and bury your head.
Social media sites thrive off engagement and the users of social media want to be engaged. With careful and proper engagement, a disgruntled follower can become a client. Social media provides followers an opportunity to be heard, I ask that you listen, pause before you blast something back about their ignorance or their mother, and create an engaging thoughtful response that includes a follow up question. You will be amazed how your level of engagement can increase based upon how you handle one negative comment.
Financial advisors are concerned they will get sucked into the black hole of social media. Advisors are terribly busy, sometimes doing the wrong thing, but none the less, they are busy. Getting sucked in happens to the best of us. I recommend you take a disciplined approach to social media. Getting your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts initially set up will take you a few hours. Once they are set up, you can spend 15 minutes twice daily and get a lot out of social media. There are some great efficiency tools you can use to help maximize those 15 minutes two times daily. I am able to manage four fan pages on Facebook, my LinkedIn account with a group, and three Twitter accounts with over 81,000 followers in two 15 minute blocks daily.
As with all good financial advisors, you want to focus on one social media site and get really good at it. I was asked, if you could only choose one social media platform, which would you choose? I quickly respond, LinkedIn, for my business, because I do B to B type business. If you are more focused on gaining new clients that do not have a business flavor, I would recommend Facebook. One out of every eight minutes spent online is spent on Facebook. If you learn how to use your fan page to market, you will be one of 16% of advisors who are using social media to gain new clients. That is right: 84% of advisors are not using this marketing tool, and they are going to get left in the dust. The key to marketing is to get your message to your prospect in a way that beats out your competition. Your competition does not exist in the world of social media! It is a calm cool body of water where the nearest boat does not care if you are there, there are so many prospects on Facebook.
The last question was the most pertinent to small business owner including financial advisors: Where do I begin?
This is a tricky question. So many have so many opinions and they are just that, opinions. I have one too and since I am writing this article, here is mine. Start with a webpage that posts fresh, new, geotagged content on a weekly basis. Then set up your social media profiles and have that fresh new content pushed to those sites. Get a dashboard or a tool to help you with the last part. I really like AdvisorDeck, Advisor Products, and HubSpot. They are all great companies. Make sure they are in the price range you can afford and offer you what you need. AdvisorDeck and Advisor Products are the ones that are designed specifically for advisors.
Advisors have the right and should be concerned about using social media. If you have someone in your corner, someone who knows social media and what life is like as an advisors, you should have confidence that you can execute a social media marketing strategy, gain brand awareness, cement relationships with existing clients and gain new ones that will be happy their advisor communicates with them in the medium they like.
Matthew Halloran is a certified coach for advisors and social media guru. His book, The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors: How to Use LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter to Build and Grow Your Business, is a must read for all advisors. Follow his every move on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.