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Practice Management

Advisors want to use social media, but many remain overwhelmed about where to start and how to succeed.

This Practice Management article is intended for financial advisors only (registered representatives of broker dealers or associated persons of Registered Investment Advisors).
 

1. Social Media Is Not a Passing Fad
I have been on social media for the past eight years. MySpace was started in 2003, Facebook 2004, and Twitter 2006. This is a dog's age in the world of technology. This is the way marketing is headed. I have never found an advisor who did not love a new marketing idea. This is not that new, but it is uncharted waters for most financial services professionals. Be one of the first ones with a compliance-friendly presence. You will be glad you did.

2. You Are Already Losing Business
I am sorry to say but, if you are not present in the social media world you are losing business. The largest growth demographic on Facebook is women over 65. Two hundred million people are using social media, and they are generally wealthy and educated young adults. This is a perfect pipeline for you to grow your business for years to come.

3. Get Comfortable with the Big Three
You need to have a presence on LinkedIn (especially if you are a business-to-business advisor), Facebook, and Twitter. You can get on Google+ and Pinterest later. For consumers, one out of every eight minutes online is spent on a social media site.

4. Google Yourself
There are 1.123 million monthly searches for "financial advisor(s)" according to Google. But the bigger question is: are you showing up on the first two pages? If you are not using fresh new content that is properly tagged, you are not coming up. Google is very picky about who gets on that first page. You need to have all of the components that they are looking for so you are on those first two pages. If you do not show up there, you don’t exist in a prospect's mind.

5. Practice with Your Account First
Begin by getting comfortable with the Big Three—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—with your own accounts. Do not try to connect with clients right away. Begin by connecting with old friends, mentors, or role models and see what they are doing with their social media accounts. The best way to learn social media is by watching others and then emulating their best practices.

6. Be Useful
No one cares if you are eating a sandwich! Post meaningful and useful information. Yes, your old high school friends and family might post more personal things, but you should not. Post about what is going on in your world, and share articles or research you think is important and informative. You are a professional; always act like one on your social media sites.

7. Be Careful
Since the advent of social media, things have gotten quite sticky when it comes to compliance. If you are old enough to remember how resistant compliance departments were to e-mail, this is the same battle, but it is moving much faster. Advisors have told me that it took years before they were able to confidently use e-mail. Social media is available to you now; just make sure you are running everything through your compliance department. Most broker/dealers have pretty good guidelines for the use of social media.

8. Outsource
Social media can be a black hole. You can easily get lost replying to posts, following threads, and watching one YouTube clip after another. Remember: you should never spend more than half an hour each day marketing and messaging on social media. Outsourcing to a specialized company can make all the difference when it comes to time management. When selecting an outsourcer, keep the three "Cs" in mind. The company needs to give you confidence, be compliant, and be convenient.

9. Expand Your Footprint
It is very inexpensive to use pay-per-click services on social media sites to expand your audience. I spent $179 on a LinkedIn ad, and it got my brand and message out to 200,000 producers, agents, and advisors. It also generated about $15,000 worth of business for my company. Your return on investment is phenomenal.

10. Marketing Has Changed
You need to put your message in front of your clients and prospective clients in the medium in which they like to interact. You need to offer them a way for them to comment, like, or share that message. Marketing in the past always was yelling a message at people; now your clients and prospects can yell back. This is a great thing that allows you to get real-time feedback and questions from clients and prospects.


Matthew Halloran, MS, Certified Coach, is the coauthor of the book The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors, and is a sought-after coach/consultant for financial advisors.

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