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How One Advisor Uses Social Media to Land VIP Clients

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Winnie Sun, managing director at The Sun Group, has more than 110,000 followers on Twitter today – which has helped her expand her clientele to include top celebrities, athletes and executives in Hollywood. 

“Social media allowed me to duplicate myself – quickly,” she told ThinkAdvisor. “It meant finding all the right people, all the biggest, most influential people in any place, getting their attention and building off that network.”

During a recent visit to ThinkAdvisor’s offices, Sun shared her secrets to social media success.

“Social media is a ton of work,” she said. “What I’ve learned through the years is that you can’t farm it off for an intern to do, you have to do it yourself.”

Sun got her start as an entrepreneur – not in financial services, but in the television and entertainment industry. When she was 21, Sun created a television audience production company called CH Entertainment.

“I handled shows like ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Judge Judy.’ All the big game shows and talk shows,” she said. “I was moving thousands of people per week.”

Sun participated in more than 350 television taping productions and was a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

During “hiatus periods when there’s nothing to watch on TV,” Sun took night classes in the certified financial planner program at UCLA. She was then recruited by Smith Barney, sold her television audience production company to a competitor, and started her career as a financial advisor.

“I didn’t have any wealthy friends or relatives … so I basically cold-called myself into production,” she said.

She also started using social media to her benefit. LinkedIn was the only social media that Smith Barney allowed, so Sun spent some time building up her profile and connecting with people.

“From working with TV, I always learned it was key to find the center of influence because that could open doors for you really quickly,” she told ThinkAdvisor. “With LinkedIn, that was my strategy.”

When her Smith Barney practice moved to a different area in Orange County where Sun had no contacts, LinkedIn allowed her to form connections and find local clients.

“I basically did a Google search of who was the most influential people in Orange County, and I went on LinkedIn and connected with them,” she said. “I signed a $10 million-plus client from a connection on LinkedIn. That was the first eye-opening experience … it made me realize the importance of social.”

About five or six years ago, the Sun Group went independent, which afforded Sun the opportunity to expand her social media reach.

“I love marketing and social – and I felt under the independent model I could do what I always felt I could do, which was take what I loved working in television, and be my own boss, and do that in the financial space,” she said.

The Sun Group’s broker-dealer, LPL, allows firms to use three platforms. Sun uses LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

“I use Facebook to maintain client relationships,” she said. “So, they feel like I’m talking to them every day even though I’m not always talking to them every day. And I give them insights to things I’m doing.” Sun uses LinkedIn to build out her centers of influence. And she uses Twitter as her “biggest net” with around 112,000 followers. Every Wednesday, she hosts a financial Tweetchat with panelists on various personal finance topics. Her most recent chat was about credit card confusion.

When she’s sharing content on Twitter and other social media platforms, Sun focuses on the interests of her clients.

“A lot of my existing clientele is in movie and television, media and tech. I do have some celebrity clients, I do have some professional athletes. … So I do like to focus on those segments,” she said.

Her “personal recipe” for social media also includes time management.

“I do what I call breakfast lunch and dinner,” she said. “I go on social [media] at breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Today, Sun gets a lot of clients through social media.

From November of last year to the end of January, The Sun Group saw a record number of new clients come in that were unsolicited. On a typical month, The Sun Group might sign three or four new clients. During this time, they were up to eight or nine “completely unsolicited” new clients.

“We were looking back on all of them, and we can actually track every single one has some relationship to social media,” Sun said.

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