If you’re one of the two out of three financial professionals who are out of the social media loop, you could be missing opportunities to boost your advisory business. Although the SEC and FINRA are cracking down on firms for social media misuse, there’s still a wealth of untapped marketing potential for advisors brave enough forge into this new territory.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be used to build opportunities – if you know how to use them to the best of your advantage. Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era, believes that social media marketing, with training and best practices, can be a formula for success. Shih offers tips to help advisors gain success by using social media as a tool to grow their advisory business by connecting with prospective clients and strengthening existing client relationships.
To begin, choose the appropriate social media platform. Finding the appropriate social market depends on your firm’s services and goals. Studies show that LinkedIn is the most popular social media resource among advisors. Rather than spread yourself thin posting on every social media site that pops up, focus your time and energy on LinkedIn or another site that caters to professionals. But that doesn’t mean you should totally ignore the other big sites. Reserve descriptive usernames on Facebook and Twitter to ensure the names are available if you choose to utilize those networks in the future.
Keep Content Fresh and Consistent
Model your social media pages after good restaurants—keep it fresh by adding new information to the page on a regular basis, but don’t overdo it by changing everything every month.
You should keep your profile up to date, but not to the point where you’re overwhelming your clients with hourly updates and posts. Shih suggests posting at least once per week, but no more than once per day.
Consistency will help you create a high-quality personal brand. To that end, use the same photograph and biography on all social media sites. Remember to keep your brand professional – which includes checking your biography and updates for errors. Despite conducting business online, clients are still seeking reliable, professional advisors.
To increase your visibility on social media sites, use the right keywords to enable clients to locate your profile easily. Don’t write the text for your site off the top of your head. Think
about the kind of web searches potential clients will use and write to catch that traffic.
Emphasize your strengths, but don’t lose focus on what’s important – your clients. Shih warns advisors not to post about themselves more than once every five posts. Instead, the majority of posts should focus on tips that provide valuable information to your clients.
Using Social Media to Compliment Traditional Client Contacts
You can use information posted on social media sites to track your clients’ personal updates. This information can be used to congratulate them on important milestones and identify emerging needs. Information gleaned from a client’s page can provide you with data that will allow you to add a personalized touch to your service, but don’t stay glued to your computer. Use phone calls and handwritten notes along with email to keep your client interested.
Social media sites can notify you if you and your clients have mutual friends. Use this function to arrange meetings with prospective clients. Even if you lack mutual friends, you can still use social media sites to publicize your events and meet prospective clients face to face – without relying on a mutual friend to arrange a meeting.
The SEC and FINRA are carefully scrutinizing the use of social media at firms. The SEC is already seeking information about advisory firms’ policies concerning social media sites, both professional and personal sites. The SEC is also asking firms for copies of employee communications made on social media sites. FINRA has also issued guidance stating that all rules that apply to in-person communications also apply to communications on social media sites.
In the end, social media sites offer advisors time and money saving opportunities, but don’t stand on their own as a marketing tool. Don’t dive into the social media scene without remembering to add personal touches, like face-to-face meetings, phone calls and letters. The key is using a combination of social media and personalized methods to gain new clients and keep existing ones. This combination will ensure you know who your clients are and enable you to continue meeting their needs, keeping you a head above the competition.
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See also The Law Professor's blog at AdvisorFYI.