In what seems to many of us like the blink of an eye, the mainframe computer gave way to the personal computer to the Internet and now to social networks.
As social networks continue to gain momentum, they provide individuals, communities and businesses with potentially meaningful information that can transform how we, as a socio-economy think, feel, and experience anything and everything, including each other, anywhere, at any time. Imagine the possibilities for your firm.
Now re-imagine your firm through a social media lens and consider what it portends—the next stage in the evolution of your financial services business—the virtual kitchen table.
The Age of Everywhere Is Here
Social media is a seminal advancement in the technology of communication. It has the potential to transport the very critical services advisors provide beyond commoditization to a place called the social table.
Social media fosters a sense of interconnectedness that the masses—parsed into digital communities and constituencies—have forced into existence—thanks to the ubiquitous pathways of personal digital devices. A “recommendation-oriented” economy is quickly evolving because, at the core people are social and prefer to congregate and converse, albeit in the privacy of their digital wherewithal.
This is indeed a carpe diem moment for those advisors who want to invite clients and prospects to their social tables and offer transparency through an open and honest dialogue that will reset the way business is done and the place in which it is conducted. In a way, social media transports the insurance advisor back home to a place where insurance advisors started: the kitchen table.
The concept of social engagement fits in perfectly with a financial advisor’s business. Why? Social media encourages relationship-building and the premise of a successful advisor’s business is based on just that—relationships.
Social media as the central point of an advisor’s business strategy can help to create a “gated community” to which people will migrate based on recommendations and referrals from and between members of the community. But it can do even more.
Social media can bring together existing clients who “sell the advisor” and make way for a new referral-based system through shared branding. With a measured approach, transforming your operation into a social enterprise is one of the most important business investments you can make in the 21st century.
This Is Not the Time to Be Anti-Social
With the number of adults logging onto social media sites at 46%, the social media springboard has reached its tipping point, making it not only the next new “new” thing, but a lasting cultural phenomenon with infinite applications in every aspect of our lives and businesses. When used properly and responsibly, imagine the key role this new media can play in helping you to brand yourself, gather meaningful feedback daily, act on that feedback quickly and, as a consequence, drive sales more strategically.
Social media provides the advisor daily contact with constituents and a digital surveillance of their unmet needs, wants and sentiments—the next generation of the traditional policy review. Thus, social communities have the power to inform advisors post-haste about the emerging concerns of the community of prospects so that advisors can respond quickly and effectively and establish credibility in the process.
Where To Begin?
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as the forerunners in social networking platforms are truly ‘social’. But to be ‘social’ does not relegate such media to recreational use only.
The ability to organize and harness information from these media and then transform it to meaningful knowledge can provide financial advisors with the competitive edge they need to expand their local market presence efficiently in a changing and increasingly challenging environment. The first step is for advisors to brand themselves within the social media space and to focus their activities with a keen eye on preserving brand equity.
Who are you? What do you represent? What do you want others to think about when they hear your name or the name of your business, your products, your services? What do you stand for? What experience and feelings do you want individuals to leave with after interacting with you and others within your community?
Once you decide the answers to these key questions, your next step should be to ensure that all your social activities coincide with the message derived from the responses to these questions and that you deliver on that message continually and consistently. Your message must tell the world your story—the value you bring to the table. This exercise in defining who you are may be the single most important factor in determining whether or not you will be successful in the social media realm.