What is one of the newest, hottest, cheapest and fastest-growing ways to communicate with and attract new clients? It is social media and if you aren’t using it yet, you need to get connected. Facebook is just one example of this explosion, adding around 4 million new users a month to a total of more than 103 million users. Yet, social media goes well beyond Facebook. And the financial professional who doesn’t get connected could be losing clients and missing out on incredible opportunities. Here are three easy ways financial professionals can increase their online presence quickly.

Boomers and seniors are going online in a hurry. According to a recent Harris Poll, 33 percent of people online are 50 and older. Social media is the use of technology to add value to others and get those people to interact with you. Interactive websites, e-mail newsletters, videos and podcasts are tools financial professionals can use to interact with boomers and seniors. The financial professional who isn’t using these tools must remember that many others are and it could cost you clients. Consider some steps to get your feet wet on the ‘Net.

1. Focus on being found by ideal clients. Most financial professionals have websites, so instead of taking on a new project, work on improving what you probably already have. The first step is making sure a website has a lot of unique content that includes information about what your potential clients would be looking for on the Internet. A simple start is to write down all the words that come to mind when describing what an ideal client is looking for that your company offers. If the focus of a professional’s practice is on retiring railroad workers in Ohio, then their website needs to have a few paragraphs on what services are provided for retiring railroad workers in Ohio. This helps the Internet search engines find the website in what is known as “natural search engine optimization.”

2. Get the right people to contact you. Now that the ideal client has found your website, it needs to add value to the person so that they contact you and interact with your company. Offer valuable information to help educate people into taking action. For example, a free report on the 10 biggest mistakes railroad workers make and how to avoid them could be just what the visitor is looking for. Or an interactive calculator could help a visitor become more involved. Finally, having a simple form for them to fill out to request the reports, tools, audio CDs or seminar tickets allows you to get their contact information and a reason to follow up with someone who is interested in what you have to offer.

3. Build the relationship over time and don’t assume that every person who goes online wants to do business right away. Some will, while others may want more information or may take more time as they could be just starting to gather data. One way to do this is to follow up right away and send the information the person asked for. Simple, yet automated e-mail follow-ups are a great way to stay in contact. Offer invitations to upcoming workshops, social events or educational videos and audio. This may be a more comfortable way for them to make a decision versus rushing toward a one-on-one visit first. Sending monthly newsletters is a way to stay in contact in the future with current and potential clients. Use links in the newsletter to drive people back to the website to interact with you. All these items can be delegated to technology, making the advisor’s office run smoothly, so once most of the work is done up front, it’ll be smooth sailing in the future.

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are additional tools to consider. Just be sure to check with your compliance department first. I have seen a successful realtor friend of mine effectively use his Facebook account to post information about social events his company is offering. Instead of annoying sales pitches or ads, he simply invites his connections to fun and educational events like charitable fundraisers he is sponsoring or wine tasting nights. By not being a sales pest, he remains on my list and uses the technology correctly to add value to his company and his connections by building social interaction.

For more great tips and ideas, join me and your peers at the Senior Market Expo this August and attend the breakout session I’ll be doing on social media, held at 2 p.m. on Aug. 25. We will spend more than an hour together and as a group discuss how financial professionals are taking their practice to the next level. If you haven’t registered yet, do it now. Make it your best year ever.

Nolan R. Baker is founder of the Retirement Specialists of Northwest Ohio, home of The Retirement Guys. Responses and questions can be sent to nolan.baker@nextrep.com.