Getting started in social media is a lot like getting started in investing. It pays to have a plan.
And, much like investment planning, TJ Gilsenan, the Web Savvy Advisor, says social media planning involves assessing where you are now, determining where you want to go, and establishing a plan to get there.
If you are like most advisors, you’re probably just getting started. For you less is more. When it comes to your social media plan, start with the big picture. Focus on broad subject matter areas first, then zero in on the details.
Here are seven broad components to include in your plan:
1. Your Starting Point
Wherever you are in your social media efforts, look around and take stock. Do you have a blog? Blog subscribers? How about social media profiles?
It’s all right if you don’t have any of the above. Right now you are just establishing a baseline.
2. Scout Your Competitors
Start by searching your competitors’ names in Google. See what comes up. If they are active in social media, chances are their Facebook page or LinkedIn profile will show in the results. Next go to the individual platforms and search for your competition there. Even if their profiles didn’t turn up in Google, if they have them, you can find them this way.
Notice their profiles. Are they complete? Visually appealing? Check out how many connections they have. Just a few? Many? When was the last time new content was added? Ask your self “If I were a client of this advisor, would I connect with this profile?”
3. Define Your Goals and Objectives
Like a good financial plan, a solid social media plan comes with goals and objectives. The trick is to know which goals and objectives are right for you. And again, much like a good financial plan, it depends on where you want to go.
For most advisors, a good set of goals starts with identifying the social media platforms in which your clients participate. (You may want to start capturing this info in your CRM system). Follow that up with a goal of establishing yourself on those platforms. Finally, set a goal of connecting to 100% of your clients who are active in social media with your social media.
4. Build Your Team
At minimum, success in social media is going to involve you and your compliance officer. Depending on your plan, you may also need to involve others in your firm. It’s a good idea to think through who handles what ahead of time.
For example, getting your profiles created will require data gathering, compliance approval, and posting. Who gathers the data? Who submits to compliance and follows up on any changes? Who does the actual data posting to the profile?
On an ongoing basis, success in social media requires content. Content creating, sourcing, approval, and posting can be a full time job. Make sure you know who owns it before you go live.
5. Develop and Maintain a Content Calendar
Social media is all about content. It’s why people link to you, follow you, like you and share what you post. To keep your audience interested, it’s important to feed them new content on a regular basis.
The best way to manage this is to create a content calendar. A content calendar is a timeline that lays out your content subject matter week-by-week ahead of time. It eliminates the “Oh boy, it’s Wednesday and I have to come up with a blog post” syndrome. You can use it to list topics, decide format (blog post? Facebook update?), and assign responsibility.
6. Round Up Some Partners
Who can you partner with to help you succeed? Chances are you’ll need a social media compliance partner to meet your regulatory requirements. But who else can you work with? Who can help you execute your plan?
There is no shortage of people vying for your attention – wholesalers, conferences, custodians – so why not put them to work? Who offers web-ready content that you can post on your website? How about a portfolio manager who will do a phone interview you can turn into a podcast? Or a white paper you can offer your followers? Start asking around. You never know what you might find.
7. Establish and Maintain Meaningful Performance Reporting Data
Much like a portfolio, the on-going success of your social media plan requires tracking your progress against your goals. Decide upfront how you will track and measure your results.
Most social media platforms come with some basic analytics. If you’re hosting a blog on your website, make sure to install Google analytics for tracking. There are also a variety of tools – some free, some paid – that can help aggregate all this data into a dashboard (Hootsuite is one example).
Even is you have to use a spreadsheet, it’s worth the effort to know how you are doing.