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5 Social Media New Year’s Resolutions

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Remember the first years of the Internet Age? Those pesky dial-up connections, AOL’s “you’ve got mail” tag line, the slew of what we now consider primitive websites? Today, we are in a similar stage of the Social Media Age, a revolutionary shift in how we communicate with, seek and obtain clients in the business world. If you want to be competitive in your industry, social media is no longer an option; it’s a must.

Given the monumental impact that social media is having and will continue to have, here are some to-dos for 2012:

  1. Don’t let compliance and regulatory issues stop you from jumping on the social-media bandwagon. According to a number of studies, compliance issues are holding back the use of social media in the financial industry. Almost three-fourths of financial advisors say their firms have a written policy regarding the use of social media. Of those, 82 percent say the policy limits or prohibits its use. While strict regulations are admittedly suffocating, don’t let them obstruct your access to the vast reservoir of growth in front of you. There are myriad social-media compliance products for business professionals. It is crucial that you and your organization are familiar with FINRA’s regulations in regards to social media. So, strategize how to implement safe, effective processes within regulatory parameters.
  2. Stop correlating social media with immediate profit. Social media platforms are not meant to directly increase your bottom line. What they are meant to do is establish your business as a leader in the field, generate referrals, improve SEO and nurture relationships with existing and prospective clients. Remember: People don’t buy from social-media platforms; they buy from people they trust. Use social media as an effective, inexpensive way to build trust by consistently generating conversation, listening to clients, answering questions, solving problems and producing timely, original content for your high-value clients and prospects.
  3. Become familiar with the proper tools to leverage your social-media strategy. What are the best tools for you? Blogs, RSS feeds, videos, customer review pages? Develop solid strategies and agendas for one to three key tools. Ask yourself how you can establish your business as a leader in the field. How can you build stronger relationships with existing clients? What does your audience want to hear about? Where can your audience be found online? What are successful businesses in your industry currently doing with social media?
  4. Learn the metrics of the future. Terms such as “liquidity,” “efficiency” and “profitability” are used much less in the world of social media than in business. Learn the lingo and establish new, relevant metrics for your social-media platforms. Why? It will help you measure the effectiveness and growth of your social-media strategies, discover what works and learn what your audience likes to read/hear about. Remember: Developing a social-media strategy is a process of repeated trial and error.
  5. Remain open to and prepared for change. Social media is not and will never be static. Rather, it’s in a constant state of flux. If your budget permits, hire interns, firms or employees to manage your business’s social-media presence. No matter what, stay up to date regarding your business’s social-media platforms. You are the pioneers of the social-media era. Don’t be afraid to branch out and explore fresh, innovative ideas as part of your social-media strategy.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and president of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website at www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.