Networking and Social Media for Advisors
As a successful financial advisor, you know there’s more to networking than handshakes and exchanging business cards. Integrating digital touch points and social media consistently into your marketing efforts is the new normal – it helps you develop connections and further conversations that help grow your business.
According to FTI Consulting, 52% of affluent investors say that they would interact with financial advisors via social media, but only 4% are currently being engaged by financial advisors online. With 73% of the 5 million affluent investors using LinkedIn to research investment decisions, social media has enormous potential for lead generation. Your clients and prospects use social media consistently and this serves as a powerful set of touch points for you – whether producing high-quality leads, or enabling the sharing of personal information to build scalable and targeted relationships.
Despite proliferation of Instagram and Snapchat, the three most important social networks for advisors remain LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Each have their own distinction and target market, but connected they give you the brand identity which reinforces your expertise and builds trust, SEO (search engine optimization), and network of prospects you need for people to find you and qualify you.
Setting Up LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most valuable social network for advisors. It has a greater percentage of users over 35 than Facebook and Twitter; 71% of LinkedIn users earn $50,000 a year vs 68% for Facebook and 47% for Twitter. LinkedIn was established as a ‘professional’ social network, and it has maintained that position to its current base of 150 million users and 200 million companies¹.
An advisors’ LinkedIn profile will often come up in the top three results in a Google search of their name. It’s important to hone your Bio before conducting any outreach on LinkedIn. A quick examination of “LinkedIn Profile Dos” shows:
1) An advisor has a professionally shot, well-lit picture (the most important element)
2) There is a summary of his/her experience (people often don’t get past the summary)
3) There is a recent news update (shows the advisor is active and current and engaged)
4) Includes links to his/her web page (further confirmation on his/her background)
5) LinkedIn url brands him by name http://www.linkedin.com/in/advisornamehere
Caution: “Recommendations” on LinkedIn are viewed as a form of advertising by the regulators and can’t be solicited or accepted. However it yields valuable information when identifying a possible prospect and it allows an opportunity to take the discussion offline and make it more personable.
- Connect – nearly every professional is on LinkedIn – you’d be surprised who you’re connected to.
- Get Referrals – Your alma mater, association members, partners, former colleagues – the broader and more influential your LinkedIn network the greater the potential for new business prospects. Reach out to a tier 1 contact and ask to be connected to a 2nd degree or 3rd degree contact. Create an opportunity to engage via an introductory e-mail or call, and then an in-person coffee.
- Network – LinkedIn Groups are an effective way to connect with individuals who share professional interests and in some cases personal ones too. Create a network on your own to attract like-minded individuals.
- Update – The LinkedIn profile pages allows for quick updates, with links and photos, that can be seen by your entire network or targeted to segments of your network.
- Integrate – Your Twitter feeds and links to your Facebook page can be embedded in your LinkedIn profile, although its wise to have a different content strategy for each platform, as potential lead expectations vary widely by platform.
Increasingly, advisors are using Facebook to build deeper relationships both personally and professionally. So, what works on Facebook?
- Pictures – Upload pictures of recreation, family or community activities that clients can relate to. Photos get the most response on Facebook, often eliciting a “like,” a comment, or a share. Keep these personal, but attempt to project an image of trust, success, and likability.
- Tips – Short tips and conversational pieces.
- Events – Association outings or discussions, and recreational activities, such as golf, sailing, biking, or charitable events. Most community organizations have their own Facebook page with photos and comments on activities you may be involved in. You can link to these photos and postings to broaden your network, and demonstrate your personal side to prospects when they check you out on Facebook. Or, you can post your own pictures. Whereas LinkedIn is ‘professional’ and text-based; Facebook is ‘recreational’ and visually driven.
Twitter is the “connector” in the 3 important essential social media tools for advisors. Twitter can feed to LinkedIn and Facebook, and connect a social media loop that is greater than the sum of its parts, ultimately boosting your online presence.
Quick Twitter tips:
- Brand your channel – Make sure your header and photo are on-brand and visually engaging. Take the time to refine your message in your description and provide relevant links to your website. You can also use hashtags in your bio so people can find you.
- Build your sources – Think of Twitter as your personal news stream. “Follow” people, companies, news and information sources of keen interest to you and your clients. Advisors can follow investment managers, insurance specialists, financial and trade press, companies, associations – any number of sources that can link to valuable intelligence. It allows you to follow key influencers and have a pulse on trends.
- Retweet and engage – When you retweet influencer or friend content, they are notified, and will often stop by your page and check out our tweets. Given there is substance there, they will often return the favor by retweeting, or sharing, your content to their broader, more influential audience.
- 2x Tweets a Day – Find your voice. Reference industry news, define the one or two core topics you want to share with your audience and consistently Tweet about them. Be sure to include visuals (photos, graphics, videos) in your tweets, they will drive higher levels of engagement. Use #hashtags to drive people to your content. Research popular investment industry hashtags and use them consistently
- Content Matters – Don’t worry about the megastars with millions or thousands of followers. Tweet about what matters to you and what interests you. You’ll find your audience and it will build through your connected social networks over time.
The key to your social media efforts is to stay engaged and involved with your constantly evolving network.
Moreover, you need to realize that buyer behavior has changed. Client and prospects are already online. The buyer’s journey is complex and most of it takes place digitally. Customers and clients are looking for your business on social media – now it’s up to you to step up and give them precisely what they want.
¹ LinkedIn Survey, 2012 (in partnership with FTI Consulting and Cogent Research)