A social media strategy is the foundation of your firm's social media activities. It aligns day-to-day social networking tasks with objectives that support the overall business goals.

The strategy doesn’t need to be complicated. Whether this is your first time developing a social media strategy, or you already have a plan in place, start simple. Answering the following questions will help you develop a solid strategy so that you can confidently engage prospective and current clients on social media.

1. Why do you want to use social media? Social media is an expansive arena, so start with one or two achievable objectives and expand as you gain confidence with social media. You may initially want to use social media for:

  • Competitive intelligence
  • Lead generation
  • Customer service
  • Brand awareness and thought leadership
  • Media relations
  • Recruiting

2. Who is your audience? Once you’ve outlined your social media objectives, move on to defining your specific target audience. While you may want to court individual clients (business-to-consumer) or institutions and organizations (business-to-business), those are broad definitions that won’t serve your business effectively.

If possible, narrow and clarify your audience. Are you trying to reach people of a specific gender, generation or socio-economic group? Or are you targeting people by business type, size or location? These details will guide you as you create content to share, reach out to influencers, identify relevant social networks and increase your followers and connections.

3. What are the right channels for your business? Your objectives and audience will help you determine which social media platforms are best suited to your business goals. While some networks are great for broadcasting your message to millions, they might not be the best for your objectives. Align your social networks with your business goals to deliver the desired results. Here are some of the most popular platforms to consider in your social media strategy:

  • LinkedIn can help you brand your business; expand your professional network; connect with current clients; increase referrals and introductions to potential clients; communicate with new client leads; and prospect for new business relationships. 
  • Facebook can help you build your brand identity; cultivate relationships with specific prospective clients once they are identified; and enhance client relationships. 
  • Twitter can help you get the word out when you are hosting a webinar, speaking at an event or attending an industry conference – and ten it lets you share those moments immediately with the world. Advisors often share commentary on current news or encourage their audiences to engage in an event. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing networks for business, and is often used as a prospecting tool, too. 
  • Google+ can help you establish authorship of your content; foster professional connections; and share content with others who use Google+ accounts. You can also create groups that allow you to reach out to a specific audience for different types of content. 
  • YouTube allows you to easily publish video content to reach a large audience. Video can be a highly effective medium for financial advisors. (Note: You can’t have a YouTube page without having a Google+ account.)
  • Instagram can help you build your brand; it’s great to use if you’re hosting an event or attending one. Advisors often take photos of themselves with colleagues or peers at an event and include the event hashtag associated with it to gain additional visibility and credibility as a thought leader. 

4. Who will create and curate content? Content creation -- whether it's a updating your website, writing a blog post, posting videos or photographs, or sharing online commentary -- is one of the most important marketing tactics to help your business get found online. But posting original at all times is an unrealistic goal.

Content curation, on the other hand, is the process of sorting through content that others have developed, and presenting it to your clients in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.

Many social media experts suggest a posting ratio that is between 30/70 and 40/60. That means of 30–40% of activity is posting original content and 60–70% of activity is content sharing and interaction.

In either scenario, be care what you share. Your business is responsible (from a compliance and regulatory standpoint) for original content and the curated content that you link to.
Raime Merriman is director of product marketing at Smarsh, where she manages development and implementation of innovative marketing programs for the company’s archiving and compliance solutions.

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