For a financial advisor, social media can be a powerful new business development tool. Managed right, social media can connect your business to an almost unending stream of new and interested prospects. But to enjoy that kind of success, you have to take an active approach. Posting a profile and passively waiting for the leads to roll in won’t do it.
For example, online and off, people need regular and on-going communication to build trust. An actively updated profile both keeps people coming back and helps them get to know you better. From a business development standpoint, a static profile is no better than a static brochure.
It's also important that your social media profiles work together with your other online properties- like your website and blog. Each of them should feed traffic to and reinforce the messaging of the others. Forcing any of them to stand alone dilutes the results you get when they work together.
Here are 5 important steps to significantly increase the amount of new business you attract through social media:
1. Start with your website.
Done right, social media invites people to get to know you better, and your website is the first place they will go to learn more about you.
Your website is your home base and 24-hour sales team. An ineffective, outdated website essentially cancels out whatever efforts you put into attracting prospects through social media. Remember your website makes a first impression with clients and prospects and helps them decide if you’re someone they want to do business with.
2. Launch a blog.
The effectiveness of your social media efforts can be traced back to the content you share. A blog is one of your best resources for publishing online content. A blog can introduce new services, educate about financial trends and news, and position you as an industry expert.
You can connect your blog to your social media profiles and use it as a resource to feed content to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Your friends, fans, followers and connections can then share your content with others in their network. (Others who may decide to check out your website - see point 1.) But, you must have a plan for keeping your blog updated consistently in order for it to be effective and regularly read.
3. Complete your profiles.
It’s likely that no one will read your social media profiles word for word, but an incomplete profile sends the wrong message. Incomplete profiles come across as unprofessional, inconsistent and unpolished -- not the message you want to send to someone looking for an advisor.
A complete profile offers people who scan it more points of entry. They’ll discover things about you that catch their attention, which will lead to a more in depth reading, and hopefully direct contact. It also gives people who search social media platforms using keywords more opportunity to find you as a financial industry resource. Use appropriate keywords (specialties, areas of expertise), write a compelling bio and include your geographical information.
4. Make it interactive.
Whenever possible, use videos, slide presentations, podcasts and photos to engage visitors in the social space. People read a lot online every day. Interactive multimedia attracts and retains attention and makes a memorable impression. Remember, offline it's unlikely a prospect will visit a dozen advisor offices when looking for help. Online, that can be done in five minutes. It's your job to stand out from the competition and make prospects want to know more.
5. Measure, measure, measure.
Just like managing an investment portfolio, the more data you have, the better decisions you can make. You can’t make informed decisions about using social media if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. Register for and utilize all of the available analytics offered by each social media platform, including Google Analytics. Analytics will arm you with solid data on the most popular content you publish, how many people are reading and sharing your content and which posts and pages going unread.
Like any business development effort, you should have a plan and a purpose for social media. A mistake many advisors make is “jumping on the social media bandwagon” without a clear vision of success. Following these steps will help guide you in the right direction.
TJ Gilsenan is the Founder and President of The Interactive Advisor. A firm specializing in financial advisor website design, search engine optimization and social media for financial advisors. Prior to founding Interactive Advisor, he worked with independent advisors -- primarily for Schwab Institutional -- for 18 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org