The digital age allows advisors to connect with more clients more quickly than ever before. And that’s a good thing, right? Eh, not so fast.
Just because you now have greater access to prospects through the Internet and social media platforms, it doesn’t mean you can’t hit suitability and ethical speed bumps. On the contrary, you need to be just as careful, if not more so.
If you want a blueprint on how to navigate online “etiquette” you’re in luck. Author Barry Libert’s new book, “Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business,” provides you with a set of rules to follow.
According to Libert, here are five tips to help advisors:
1. Pretend you’re offline. It’s pretty simple: if you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t say it online. It really doesn’t matter if you’re tweeting, blogging, chatting or otherwise. Many people behave as though what’s said online won’t have the same ramifications as it would in “real time.” If you believe that’s true, just talk to someone who’s been fired for a post on Facebook or because of an inappropriate blog post. Yes, it has happened, and it can easily happen to you.
2. Remember, it’s not all about you. It’s time to face facts: While your family and close friends might be interested in just about every opinion and perspective you have to offer, the general public might not be. Remember, by and large, folks can quickly become bored. It’s important to engage others by providing information, ideas and products they’ll find helpful.
3. Don’t hide behind social media. Unless you’re living in a computer-less time warp, you’ve probably been guilty of using e-mail to send a message you didn’t want to deliver in person. The thing is, though, words still matter as much online as they do in real time–and they stick around longer. When possible, avoid using social media as an easy out when you’re facing a tough conversation or want to spout off an annoyance.
4. Leave the sensational to someone else. ATTENTION: This never-before-shared piece of advice will change the way you do business and catapult your company into a Fortune 500 slot. Sounds good, right? Of course it does. But the thing is it’s not a claim that can be guaranteed. When it comes to social media, it’s best to be honest and stick to the truth.
The fact is rumors and sensational posts may send readers flocking to you at first, but dishonesty and irresponsible behavior ultimately come back to haunt you. Yes, in the heat of the moment that sensational comment might seem like a good idea, but you might regret clicking “send” before all is said and done. It’s better to wait an hour–or maybe even a day–before launching your message into the public domain.
5. Consider yourself a brand and act accordingly. Sure, you might be one of a dozen, 100 or even 1,000 advisors in your area, but you’re more than that. Especially considering the far-reaching, viral potential of information that’s shared online, your thoughts and opinions can be seen by just about anyone. Remember, how you act is reflective of who you are and, in the case of business, of your brand, as well.
It really isn’t far fetched to say what you do online can impact your brand, so bear in mind how you want others to perceive you and your organization–and let that influence your online presence. Remember, sharing can be your most powerful tool because it gives people something to relate to and comment on, but sharing too much or sharing inappropriately can be equally destructive.