For today’s financial planners, digital marketing makes the grade
Recent studies suggest that nearly 40 percent of investors make investment decisions based on information gathered through social media. That’s certainly a surprising percentage to those of us accustomed to more traditional resources. Consider, then, the rocketing leap in that number to 60 percent when a younger generation of investors is polled. A wealth of popular platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have made daily correspondence with clients and prospects possible for financial planners and advisors. Why, then, are so few in the industry fully utilizing these mediums?
Can’t teach an old dog new tweets?
While Millennials have taken to modern technology like guppies to water, the digital comfort level for Baby Boomers is somewhat prickly. Reaching clients through paid advertisements, cold calls, and direct mail, while decidedly less efficient, remains the approach of choice for older industry professionals. In 2016’s increasingly mobile society, with a record-setting amount of online content consumed by millions daily, social media provides the greatest outlet for showcasing one’s expertise, thought leadership, and brand. For financial planners dissatisfied with their reach through traditional investor relation techniques, an integrated marketing plan would carry them far. In a recent poll, 50 percent of respondents reported they had successfully converted prospects to clients through some form of social media.
A savvy, but digitally challenged, financial planner or advisor might opt to hire a social media team to broadcast the firm’s message. For those intent on conquering digital communications on their own, however, there are some guidelines to making the transition a bit easier.
Prose for Pros
Before taking a deep dive into the murky waters of trendy new platforms, a blog is an easy, manageable place to launch your online voice and introduce your professional expertise. While it involves significantly more writing than the 140-character limits of Twitter or the fun-sized, digestible messaging of Facebook, it’s an exceptional venue for establishing your brand. The extended format of a blog allows for expounding on your personal views and establishing a presence and a voice. If maintained and updated with regularity, your clients and prospects will get a thorough perspective on who you are and how you think. Be cognizant of generating problem-solving information or new trends in the industry. The blog-o-sphere is populated with thousands of self-proclaimed experts. Make sure your content proves that, in your case, the title fits.
Pick a weekday that you will consistently be able to write and publish a post on your website and then use the link to publish your words of wisdom across all your social media platforms. For example, if you put your blog post on your website every Tuesday, post it on Facebook on Wednesdays, LinkedIn on Thursdays, and tweet a quick saying with the link and a hashtag on Fridays. Keeping posts organized and consistent will gain you a bevy of fans who will look forward to seeing your blogs on whichever medium they like best. Repurposing your content in this way gives it a longer lifespan and farther reach. For an even farther reach and to gain new readers, consider sponsoring a post on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, even by putting $10 to $20 into it for the week.
The “IN” Crowd
Established in 2003, LinkedIn may well be considered the Granddaddy of social media sites and, with over 400 million users, is most likely a networking staple for nearly every financial planner in the industry. Originally established for uniting professionals across the globe, the site has substantially expanded its services and yet many of its offerings are not utilized as they could be.
LinkedIn discussion groups, for example, allow for impressive access to customers and prospects. As a member, you can send personal messages to others in the group. A surprisingly effective approach to expanding your brand, it fosters a more personalized introduction to prospects than your LinkedIn profile, alone, could provide.
Another newer feature minimizes the time spent in search mode. Targeted searches can now be streamlined through LinkedIn’s faceted search function. Here, industry professionals can search for prospects based on a number of elements including current company, past company, industry, and current location. Better still, your faceted search can be saved and notifications will arrive whenever your targeted search result is updated.
A complete 180 from the strictly business aesthetic popularized by LinkedIn, Facebook serves as a social platform for you and your company. Celebrating the pithy, provocative statement over long-form copy, your Facebook page can be updated often and easily throughout the day. An ambitious financial planner might maintain two accounts, one personal and one professional, each serving its own purpose. The personal account could focus on instilling trust in clients and prospects. As a place for sharing personal beliefs and authentic feelings, this page can serve to humanize its owner, introducing an intimate component into the client relationship. A business page, then, can be reserved for presenting a more general persona, populated with industry observations, hot topics, and updates on trends within the financial sector.
Meet or Tweet?
Most financial planners don’t boast Shakespearean talent in their written communication. Twitter, then, is a friendly, non-intimidating medium option. Limited to a 140-character count, the service demands precision and efficiency in messaging. Financial industry pros who’ve located that sweet spot in showcasing their brand with a strategic Twitter plan can gain thousands of fans or “followers”within a seemingly impossible timeframe. For a great many seeking to expand their clientele, it comes down to a choice: devote evening after evening to the meet-and-greet grind of professional networking events or generate three times the connections with a few well-conceived Tweets.
Sunny and Share
Two takeaways to follow when posting? Keep it bright and keep it moving. As a general rule, an optimistic post, tweet, or blog tends to garner more favorable response from the recipient than a negative one. When you’ve got some good news to offer, either from your office or from the industry itself, get it out there.
The goal is to fuel interest in your message and let your followers do the rest. If they like what they’ve read, if it’s relevant, thought provoking, or informative, they’re going to share your message with the click of a thumb. Once you’ve gotten industry insiders engaged in your viewpoints, your brand generates itself. You become a professional that others of influence want to stand next to, virtually that is. A good rule of thumb, though? Pay it forward. Share the social media messaging of others in the industry. If you can back up your own statements with a third party’s post, link your blog entry or tweet to another authority’s page. This informs your clients and prospects that you’re always broadening your viewpoints and keeping up with insights offered industry wide.