The financial services industry is built on trust, and trust is built through relationships. Social media is all about relationships, making it a perfect medium for financial professionals to find and engage with clients and prospects. Using social media tools appropriately can help financial professionals effectively communicate with their existing customers, as well as connect with potential new ones.

Social media is nearly ubiquitous among consumers – two-thirds of Americans have a social media profile on at least one platform, according to a report published this year by Edison Research. Among financial professionals, LIMRA research found that 7 in 10 were using or planning to use some form of social media.

Financial professionals use social networking in a variety of ways, including prospecting and lead generation, referrals, brand awareness, relationship building, business retention, and networking. At its core, however, social media is simply about connecting with people. To use social media effectively, understanding your audience and how to build a relationship with them is key.

Click next for the five recommendations to improve social media engagement.

Brand

1) Your social media presence conveys your personal brand 

What you say and how you say it provides your audience of existing and potential customers a glimpse into your personality and values. This can impact whether they trust you to help them become financially secure. Consider your posts with this in mind.

Content

2) Content is key

Whether content is created by the home office, a financial professional, or a combination of both, having a sufficient variety of content available via a fast, convenient process is critical to adoption and successful implementation. Content must be useful, timely, and relevant to the audience.

When using social media, ask yourself: “Is this something my audience would be interested in? Am I providing value here?”

Post frequently

3) Frequency matters

Most social media users visit their networks frequently; being a regular contributor helps keep you top of mind. From the service perspective, clients and prospects who chose to engage via social media expect a prompt response just as they do via phone, email and other channels. Most financial professionals successfully using social media check their networks and/or contribute daily.

Pinterest may not be the first social network financial professionals consider, but it can be very helpful from the research perspective — learning about a current or prospective customer’s interests before meeting with them. Are they interested in baseball, children, cooking? A financial professional can use this information to adapt conversations to their interests and build the relationship.

Don't skip steps

4) Don’t skip steps

While social media can be used effectively for business, it’s critical to remember that these networks are designed as communication tools. While your goal may be a sale, don’t expect to skip the intermediary steps. Cold calls aren’t very effective outside of social media — and they won’t work any better inside them.

The purpose of using social media for financial professionals should be to develop relationships, which is done to a great extent by providing value.

Social media

5) Use platforms appropriately  

Not all platforms are made for all audiences. Understanding how different social networks are used and what your specific audience expects from you is critical to providing value.

LinkedIn is a great “gateway social network,” uniquely suited to identifying money in motion via job changes, moves, and so on. Beyond prospecting, use the network to showcase your professional expertise as well as finding ways to offer value to prospects and clients via your connections.

Facebook is generally more of a social/personal network, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant for business. Engagement is easier on Facebook than in other social media and your potential audiences are larger – use the platform to let people get to know you while providing them with value. Sharing content about charities you support, valuable information relevant to your market such as child safety tips and other relevant content will help to build trust and a connection between you and your audience.  

At the end of the day, social media is just one more way of connecting with people to understand their needs and demonstrate how you can help. Providing relevant and valuable information to foster your relationships will allow you to keep connected and be there when the need arises.