5 Time-Saving Tips to Get Started on Social Media Marketing

In the first part of our post, we discussed the need for other forms of networking besides social media. We'll now turn to five tips for finding time to start social media marketing

Given that social media does take at least some time—and most financial advisors don't exactly have a lot of spare time on their hands—how does one find the time to get started?

The key is to recognize that since social media marketing is ultimately just like other networking and relationship marketing efforts, just more efficient and scalable in the long run. So the easiest way to identify other, less efficient marketing activities you're already engaged in, and carve out some of that unproductive time into a potentially far more productive direction. In other words, don't look at social media marketing as something you have to find time for, on top of everything else you do. View it as something you allocate time towards instead of some marketing effort you're already doing that's less successful, effective, or efficient.

So once you've carved out a little bit of time, what should you do next? 

Tip 1: Start Simple

Don't look at social media as something you have to do with a giant splash all at once. It is something you can tiptoe into over time. As a starting point, I'd suggest created a LinkedIn profile (if you haven't already), and focusing on filling it out entirely (as your first presence on a social networking site, especially one so focused on business professionals, you don't want to look like you're half-a**ing it).

For a good "LinkedIn 101 Guide" for financial advisors, check out this article for ideas about what to include in your profile and what to share on LinkedIn.

Tip 2: Listen Before You Leap

If you want some perspective on what social media is all about, and what works, start by just showing up (virtually) and listening in on the conversation. Twitter is a platform that's particularly conducive to just listening; you don't have to tweet or say anything to get value from it. As an added benefit, if you communicate nothing and participate anonymously, you don't have to worry about any of the compliance hassles. See some guidance on easy ways to get started on Twitter as a financial advisor.

Tip 3: Share What You Already Read

Success in social media, as with almost any networking and relationship-building effort, is to be seen as a trusted and credible source for information and solutions. Hopefully, you already make an effort to read and keep yourself up to date on the latest news and information that's important to, and regarding, your target clientele. So the next step of social media is to simply share what you already read. With the online tools available today (see here for a list of what I use for social media activity), you can make your initial social media efforts little more than tapping a quick button on your screen after you finish reading what you were reading anyway, making the marginal effort to share content all of about two seconds.

Tip 4: Communicate in a Manner Comfortable for You

Once you've established your initial social media presence, and you've started to share what you're reading that might be of interest to your target clientele, the next step is to begin creating some of your own content to share that demonstrates your personal knowledge and expertise.

While writing blogs is obviously my preferred mode of communication, there's no particular requirement that a social media content effort has to be built around the written word, especially if writing is not your thing. If you prefer to talk and interview people, consider podcasting. If you're better communicating visually, try videos and creating a YouTube channel. The bottom line: utilize the communication style that works best for you.

Tip 5: Schedule Yourself

If your plan is to do a little social media here and there whenever you get around to it, and you have a normal, busy financial planning practice, you're never going to get around to it. Accordingly, the key to social media success—and any marketing success, really—is to create a plan of what you're going to do and when you're going to do it, on a consistent basis, and then hold yourself accountable to that plan.

The good news in the context of social media, though, is that the time commitment can be a small, bite-sized effort on a regular basis, not big chunks of time like networking events and other marketing activity. So set your goals accordingly. It might be checking in on Twitter and LinkedIn for 10 minutes a day, sharing at least 5-10 articles a week, and creating 2 new pieces of content (blog article, podcast, video, whatever) each month.

Remember, if you don't have a schedule you're committed to and can be held accountable to, you're not going to get it done.

The bottom line, though, as noted earlier, is that ultimately social media is not an alternative to networking and referral marketing, it's simply another way to do networking and referral marketing. However, it's also a way of creating social engagement to build relationships with an approach that is more efficient and scalable in the long run.

As a marketing activity, if you're struggling to find time to dip your toe in social media, you might start by looking at what other marketing activity and effort you're already doing that you could repurpose. While social media likely won't have any quick wins, just as showing up for a single in-person networking meeting will have limited benefits, the long-term opportunity with social media is incredible.

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To learn more about how you can use social media to grow your business, we invite you to a free ThinkAdvisor webcast on Oct. 1 featuring social media experts Amy McIlwain, Clara Shih and Hardeep Walia.

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