Written by: Justine Young
Social media is an incredible invention – it’s entire websites and applications specifically built for large-scale communication and collaboration. Social posts require marketing dexterity unlike any other form of content creation. It’s challenging and exciting and ever-evolving.
For advisors, social media allows you to shape the conversation surrounding financial planning. You have the opportunity to take a seemingly bland industry and share the rich tapestry of what actually occurs in finance each and every day – helping your clients better understand and plan for their futures.
According to one recent study, 83% of financial advisors use social media for business purposes. If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet, there’s still time. The good news? It’s not too late to harness the power of social and boost your marketing efforts.
The Power of Social Media
Social media has revolutionized how advisors can connect with both clients and prospects. Unlike snail mail, email or other means of digital communication, social media provides direct engagement with consumers in real time.
It also allows you to reach a wider audience based on specific hashtags or trending topics – individuals who might not have otherwise found your firm are exposed to your brand and message. And social isn’t just an individuals-based game; you have access to tight-knit virtual communities that share specific passions and interests.
There are a ton of benefits to utilizing social media platforms in your firm’s marketing, but a few of the top advantages you can expect include:
Direct engagement with targeted audiences
Opportunities to display your personality, expertise and passions
Boosted credibility as a go-to subject matter expert
How to Harness Social Media in Your Content Marketing
Whether you’re starting your social media journey from scratch or looking to overhaul your strategy for better engagement, these tips will help you get started.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATFORM(S)
An error we often see from financial firms looking to take advantage of social media is an overextension of their resources. Social media takes time – you have to create content and images, schedule posts and interact with other users.
One of the best ways to ensure your resources are used properly is to narrow down your goals – you don’t have to be a social guru on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram. Rather, you can choose one or two platforms that most clearly align with your goals.
For example, Twitter is a fast-paced network. There are over 500 million tweets sent out per day – that’s a lot of noise. But it’s also a platform known for its authentic, conversation-style content. If you want to spark dialogue and have the capacity to tweet often, it might be a good fit.
On the other hand, Facebook leans toward a more family-friendly atmosphere with ample opportunity for ad placements. LinkedIn is a network of professionals sharing positive, growth-focused content.
Whichever platform you choose, make sure to talk it over with your team and perhaps even your clients – where would they most like to see your focus?
CREATE A GAME PLAN
Another way to ensure social media success is to have a structured game plan for consistent yet varied posts.
What that means is that you need to post regularly, rather than going AWOL for two weeks and then spamming a news feed with 100 posts in a single day.
At the same time, you want to ensure that your posts aren’t all regurgitated advertisements for your firm. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule says that you should be engaging in conversations 80% of the time and posting your own original content 20% of the time. That original content could be company news, thoughts on current events, samples of your blogs or snippets of video/podcasts you’ve created.
Once you have your posting cadence figured out, write it down. A plan that lives inside one person’s head isn’t conducive to long-term success. Create a list of what kind of content you’ll post and when you’ll post it as a guide for your entire team.
SPARK CONVERSATION WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
The biggest part of the 80/20 rule is engaging with your audience and others in your industry.
If someone replies to your post or tags you in a comment, it’s important to acknowledge and respond to them. Likewise, if another post is gaining traction with users, don’t be afraid to jump in with your own opinion.
Social media is all about balance – you need to show off your expertise and personality, while also keeping in mind that there are real people on the other side of the internet. Every message you send is out there forever and reflects not only on your firm but also on you as a person.
To ensure your posts are on-brand and PC, it’s best to have at least two eyes on the content before you hit send.
FIND YOUR DIGITAL COMMUNITY AND ENGAGE AUTHENTICALLY
To be truly successful in social media marketing, you have to be in tune with what’s actually happening online. Without firsthand knowledge of trends or those unspoken rules of conduct, your posts may come across as inauthentic and possibly even insensitive.
To stay up to date, you should have someone on your team who legitimately uses these apps. This person will be your subject matter expert on how, when and what to post. For example, Twitter is known for its hashtags that allow users to search and browse by topic. But how many hashtags is appropriate per tweet? Is it two? Is it ten?
The answer is that it depends on your online community. Let’s think about how this would work in the real world:
Say you’re a part of an online community that’s all about retirement planning. That very week, the stock market dips unexpectedly and the conversations turn toward anxiety about low-performing retirement accounts. Your community members are stressed about tight funds and worried about their upcoming retirement plans. This is likely not the time to post about your lavish vacation to the Swiss Alps – rather, you could pivot your content to talk about dealing with volatile markets.
ADD AN EDGE
Social media is a space to show off your passions and personality. It’s an opportunity to show the behind-the-scenes work your firm does, to tell your dad jokes and keep things familiar.
You still need to keep your content on-brand, but allow yourself to develop a unique voice. Keep the jargon to a minimum, and share your best pupper pics. Grab a relevant gif or post a poll about your favorite hotdog condiment. Be #edgy.
Social media efforts take time. Unless you go mega-viral like that corn kid, you’re not going to find millions of followers overnight.
Keep it consistent and listen to community feedback. If you’re not seeing much traction after a few weeks, pivot your strategy and try something new.
Social media is constantly evolving. The good news? It’s also a great place to try new tactics and see results in real time.
Social Media Don’ts
Now that we’ve covered the things you should do, let’s run through a couple social no-nos. Take each of these with a grain of salt – if your brand is all about being controversial and having strong stances, you don’t have to change.
That being said, here are a few things to avoid:
- Politics and religion
- Personal information such as your address and phone number
- Non-compliant posts (yes, compliance still matters in social media)
- Typos and bad links
Not only are typos or bad links a turn-off for users, but it can also ding your engagement overall. Best practices say to keep your links out of your main post altogether and post them as a reply instead.
Another final tip? Know the hashtags you’re using. Remember that time Digiorno Pizza used a hashtag meant for standing up against domestic violence? Don’t be a Digiorno.