While social networking sites are still a popular resource for people to communicate and interact with friends and family, today they are also one of the best places to build and maintain strong relationships with clients and prospects online.
Valentina Chtchedrine, Vice President of Digital Strategy & Experience for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, joined me to share her own insights about using social media in a smart, compliant way. Lorie Konish, managing editor of On Wall Street magazine, asked the two of us a series of questions. What follows are some of my answers to Lorie’s questions.
Here are some interesting findings from a Hubspot survey of 611 advisors in various business models, which was conducted in 2011:
- 61% of the advisors using LinkedIn acquired a client through it
- 47% of the advisors using a blog acquired a client through it
- 40% of the advisors using Twitter acquired a client through it
- 35% of the advisors using Facebook acquired a client through it
It would not be a big stretch to assert that the percentages of success above have been and will be going up as more and more advisors get the hang of and embrace social media as a part of their overall marketing plan.
Some of the more spirited independent advisors who have been out there on the leading edge for a while are telling me they are getting 50% of their new business from having a strong online presence. Rick Kahler, a Certified Financial Planner™ professional who owns and operates a wealth management and Registered Investment Advisory firm in South Dakota, told me last spring at the NAPFA Conference in 2011 that he even landed a million dollar account thanks to his online presence. I’m hoping to catch up with Rick at the 2012 NAPFA conference this week to hear how things have been building for him over the past year.
BUILDING A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE
While it can sometimes be difficult to determine what exactly in the mix of online activities is producing the results (I believe your overall online perception is just as important as the social media component), the Hubspot survey points towards the importance of Linked In and blogging as high-value activities.
Blogging helps you build a strong online presence in a couple of ways. First, frequent blog postings on your site or a credible third-party site (especially if crossed-linked to your website or a secondary blog) can significantly improve your search engine page rankings. Second, blogging can position you as an expert in your field and a contributor to a body of work or a community of interest. Blogs don’t always have to be just words, so if writing is not your strong suite, consider video blogging or posting audio content instead.
See how Andy Millard does it on the free Blogspot page he created while at one of the Social Media Boot Camps I led for FPA in 2010; he uses a mix of audio, video, photos and text.
Since Twitter is closely correlated to blogging – after all, it is really just micro-blogging – and is fairly easy to do (especially if you automate some of the tweets you post), I would also encourage you to consider adding that to your top tier social media tactics.
I encourage advisors to post short, catchy headlines and shortened links on Twitter. Learn to “bottomline it” and create a bit of intrigue. Think of yourself as a reading service pointing the way to good information. Then try to engage people who follow you. Retweet their posts. Comment on their posts. Mix it up about 75% business reading service and about 25% personal insights and character-revealing posts.