I’ve used social media to grow my business over the last five years by maintaining and updating a blog five times a week. It’s been a good tool and it’s definitely been worthwhile. It has helped me grow my business steadily albeit in some rather unconventional ways. Here’s how you can use social media to grow your practice, too.

The payoff

Before we explore how to do it, let’s get clear on the benefits of using social media.

As I said, I’ve been writing posts for more than five years. Yes, I’ve gained clients, but that’s just the frosting on the cake. More important, I make sure my current clients get my weekly updates and encourage them to share these posts with their friends, relatives, attorneys and CPAs. This has been the number one way I get in front of new people without wasting time on public seminars or wasting money on direct mail.

My blog is a differentiator and a credibility builder. It’s like a business card on steroids. It’s a low barrier connector that makes all the difference.

Which media to use

I suppose you could use Twitter and/or LinkedIn to troll for clients, but I have no experience with that. I created a blog and write about financial planning topics instead. I try to write about topics my clients really care about – or should care about.

I try to present the ideas in easy-to-understand language rather than try to impress people with jargon. When I write, my goal is to help the reader understand something they didn’t understand before they read the post. Communicate in a straight-forward manner and be helpful if you really want to connect with people. 

Assemble your team

Blogging does require some technical know-how but I suggest you hire that talent rather than waste your time trying to become a techno-nerd. Just beware and get good references. When I first started, a firm wanted me to pay them $3,000 to set me up. I found someone else who wanted only $300 for the same job. Shop around and ask a lot of questions.

I highly recommend the book “How to Make Money Blogging” to get a real picture of how this works. Disclaimer: Bob Lotich, the author of the book mentioned above, is a friend of mine, but we became friends as he mentored me through this process. If you want to save yourself years of wasted effort, pick up his book.

Make a commitment

If you want to build an Internet presence, you have to commit time and energy and you have to be in it for the long haul. It took me two years before I gained a following despite the fact that I spent 20 hours per week writing. 

You may not have to put that much time into it, but if you can’t devote at least 10 hours a week to blogging, don’t even start.

Be picky

Believe it or not, one of your biggest challenges will be that too many people will want to talk with you once you get rolling. Make sure to answer questions, of course, but don’t spend time talking to the wrong people. When someone identifies themselves as a person who really wants help putting together a financial plan and/or managing their assets, I’m all in. For people who don’t fall into either of those categories, I suggest other online resources. Since I have thousands of posts that have been published, it’s very easy to answer a question by referring the reader to something I’ve already written.

As a financial professional, time is your greatest business tool. You can use some of your time to build an Internet presence by establishing a blog.

If you decide to go this route, be patient and stay committed. Write about things your audience wants to learn about and be helpful. I’ve used this formula for the last five years and it’s transformed my business.

How are you currently using the Internet to support your business? Do you think blogging is for you? Why or why not?