Social media has taken over as one of the primary ways consumers give and receive information. As regulations become more clear to financial planning practitioners, using social media will become a necessity to continue to grow your business and build your brand.

As early adopters of social media using including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging in 2008, we are now on phase two of implementing another half dozen platforms. But beyond the obvious aspect of helping make you visible on the internet, social media is still baffling to many financial planning practitioners. How do you use social media to acquire new, high-quality financial planning clients? Here’s the secret formula that has worked for us.

At the epicenter of all the ideas around social media, two things are paramount to make this type of marketing work to get new clients:

1. Your website MUST be set up to create and capture leads. What this means is that if the only way someone can get in touch with your firm from your website is to click the "Contact Us" form in the upper right hand corner, than you have failed already.

Your website needs to have an element that makes a consumer want to engage – a free e-book, a free webinar or a button that will make then want to enter their information in order to get your information. Without that, you leave very little opportunity to actually meet someone who comes to you through a social media platform.

2. Your social media activity MUST lead prospects back to your site. That means providing the consumer with something interesting to click on that will take them to your website. This may include a cool photo, an interesting article or an intriguing video, to name a few methods.

If you have a profile on LinkedIn and someone actually goes to view it, what is it that you want them to do when they get there? You want them to click on something that will take them out of LinkedIn and directly to your website. Then, let the website do its work of turning them into a lead. After that it's up to you to get the prospect to sign up.

Using these two simple yet effective techniques, our firm acquired over 100 new clients last year using social media and we are getting better at it every day.

If you decide to use outside social media firms, make sure that you focus them on getting results (leads) and not "likes" or "impressions." The key is that just like all marketing you have done in the past, if you don't get a "comment card" or a name and a number, than all you have is a set of eyeballs. Likes don’t create revenue, new clients create revenue.

Ted Jenkin, CFP, is the co-CEO and founder of oXYGen Financial.

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