The last 20 years have seen explosive growth and development in technology, but despite these advances, many financial advisors continue to lag behind when it comes to one of the most culturally significant of those advancements: social media.
Perhaps they think they don’t need social media, or that their target audience doesn’t use it. Maybe they think it can’t help them grow their practice. The fact is, they’re wrong on all three counts.
Why Social Media Matters for Financial Advisors
First and foremost, social media is a fantastic tool for boosting brand awareness. Just like your radio show, TV commercials, print ads, and billboards, social media allows you to put your practice in front of more people – many more, as digital marketing isn’t limited in scope and scale like other channels may be.
Social media is a great way to promote events and new content, like blog posts, podcast episodes, or TV and radio segments. You can also use social media to connect with clients in new ways by sharing office photos and posts about your business culture.
Then there’s the obvious benefit of connecting with and attracting new leads. Perhaps one of your clients shares one of your posts, thereby exposing all of their friends and followers to YOUR content and YOUR practice. Maybe it’ll catch the eye of your next qualified prospect!
Whether you’re one of those advisors doubting the power of social or you’re ready to click “post,” here are some tips to help you bring your business into the 21st century.
1) Choose the social media platform that’s right for you.
There are dozens of social networks out there for every conceivable type of user, but we’re going to focus on what we like to call “the Big Four”: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Each of these networks has millions of daily and monthly active users – billions if we’re talking about Facebook and Instagram – which means millions of potential new clients. Granted, there is some overlap between these networks, and not all users will be a good fit for your practice, but the fact remains: there are plenty of people looking for content that you can provide.
Think about where your ideal client base is likely to be. Millennials love Twitter and Instagram, while Facebook and LinkedIn tend to be better for older clients and other professionals. If you’re not sure which platform to use, Facebook is generally a good place to start.
2) Post the right content at the right time.
Each of the Big Four are wildly popular with a large audience, but they each have different content needs. What is right for Facebook may not be right for Instagram, and what’s right for LinkedIn almost certainly is not right for Twitter. It’s important to understand the most effective types of content for each of these channels, including the best time of day to post to get maximum engagement (or interaction).
For example, Twitter posts (tweets) are short – 240 characters max. You can include images or videos, or link to longer content like blog posts. Facebook and LinkedIn, however, allow for much longer posts. Instagram is a highly visual platform, but that doesn’t mean copy doesn’t matter.
In general, visual content performs better than plain text posts, and video generally performs the best on all platforms.
As for when to post, that depends. The most important thing is that you post consistently – that is, don’t go weeks or months between posts. Try to post at least a few times a week, every day if you can, and sometimes more than once a day (particularly if you’re using a rapidly moving platform like Twitter). Content has different lifespans on each network, which is another important factor to keep in mind.
3) Keep your accounts compliant.
This rule is especially important for financial professionals with securities licenses. What you can and can’t say on social media is regulated by the SEC, Division of Securities, FINRA, and/or the respective Departments of Insurance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t post at all. Keep your posts educational (but not promissory) and avoid speaking in absolutes.
Make sure that any disclosures you use are easily accessible – a great way to ensure this is by including them in a pinned post on your profile or including a link to your website in your bio.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your compliance officer prior to setting up a social media account and when you’re unsure about what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Important: You should always keep your personal social media separate from your practice’s social accounts. There is a time and place for different kinds of content, and while you want to be human in your client interactions, some conversations (and opinions) should be kept private.
4) Don’t forget to engage.
One of the most important things about using social media is responding to comments, messages, and engagement. Don’t let your notifications rack up. Set aside some time every day for you (or a member of your support staff) to read all of your comments and private messages and respond to each one. If your clients take the time to reply to your post or, better yet, share it with their friends and followers, you owe it to them to respond back.
This is one of the key purposes of social media, to participate in a larger and ongoing conversation. You can use social to monitor trends and see what your clients are interested in right now, so you can use it to inform the content you create later (or the topics you cover at future events and seminars).
One Final Tip
Above all, remember that the people who follow you on social media are just regular people. Think about why people use social media and what kinds of things they want to see. What about your spouse, your parents, your friends?
Keep these things in mind and you will be on the way to social media success!