A social-media-sharing guide for financial advisers

It is important to be strategic about social-media sharing and map out a plan that is consistent with an adviser's goals

Feb 6, 2013 @ 10:00 am

By Stephanie Sammons

Technology, social media
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In my work with financial advisers and firms, I have learned that one of the biggest obstacles to engaging in social media is knowing what to share on social networks.

An adviser has built social-media profiles, and they look fantastic. Now what?

Here is how to get unstuck and what to do next.

It is important to be strategic about social-media sharing and map out a plan that is consistent with an adviser's goals. For example, if the goal is to attract physicians to a practice, an adviser should optimize social-media sharing with content that is relevant to physicians.

Unfortunately, most of the turnkey (what I call “plug and play”) social-media programs available for advisers aren't customized to them, their practices, their target demographic or their location. Sharing canned, generic financial content may fill up some space in an adviser's social streams, but ultimately, it won't get quality results.

In order to optimize social-media sharing to attract the exact desired client relationships, what an adviser should share should emphasize the target demographic, topics that are relevant to that demographic, and the geographical location whenever possible.

It should also be noted that activating social-media sharing is a fantastic way to stay in front of existing clients with helpful and insightful information. Sharing content that answers common client questions and addresses client concerns will not only continue to foster loyalty with existing clients, but it can lead to new referrals.

Social media makes it easy for clients to refer an adviser, because they can share the adviser's updates with friends with the simple click of a button.

Here are five tips for what to share on social networks.

1. Share one's own content.

First and foremost, advisers who aren't developing and publishing unique content through blogging are missing the biggest opportunity that social media provides. Yes, social media should lead to conversations and discussions, but in order to provoke engagement, an adviser need to distribute content that is worth talking about or sharing. Ideally, it is the material that is being shared that drives the foundation of the strategy. Sharing an adviser's own content (if it's good) can drive traffic back to the web properties that adviser owns (website, blog, landing pages) and allows maintaining control of the marketing funnel.

Most firms that are successful with social media consistently share their own content on social networks. If the content is truly educational, insightful and helpful, it won't be viewed as overly promotional. This is especially true if advisers mix in some of the other ideas I cover below.

Advisers need both a platform and a process for developing and implementing content strategy that is optimized to attract ideal clients.

2. Share unique relevant content from trusted third-party sources.

Reposting “curated” content that is discovered from reputable sources is a great way to fill the social stream with activity. However, this content should be hand-selected. Advisers can use social-media-sharing tools such as Buffer and Hootsuiteto automate the distribution of these shares, but I highly recommend against using automated content selection that pulls from generic, canned financial content libraries. That will turn off an adviser's following in a hurry because consumers can easily recognize canned content. It isn't personalized, moving or inspiring.

Trusted third-party sources can include content from well-known websites and blogs, as well as posts from trusted influencers, friends and peers. I would suggest hand-selecting a list of high-quality blogs to follow closely to find content that will resonate with one's target demographic.

There is another benefit to sharing other people's content. Chances are, they will see it and reciprocate by sharing an adviser's content. Build a network of influencers and mine their social streams for quality content to share with followers. Most likely, they will notice and return the favor.

3. Share your unique value messages.

An adviser has a unique belief system or philosophy about life and the work that you do for clients. We are all shaped by our experiences and develop our own set of guiding principles. Advisers should sit down and make a list of 100 of their own unique value messages. These value messages should be no longer than 140 characters (so they can fit within a tweet). Advisers can include lessons learned, beliefs, ideas, insights, quotes, etc., that inspire and guide them. Once I began this exercise, I found that I had substantially more than just 100 thoughts to share.

Using social-media-sharing tools to upload and schedule the spread of these value messages can save time and add personalization to the sharing mix.

4. Share nonfinancial content.

Some advisers look at me like I am crazy when I make this recommendation. The truth is, advisers are most likely to connect with the right people on social media if they reveal some of your their personal passions. Enjoy cooking, reading, hiking, biking or traveling? Sharing content related to personal hobbies and interests is a fantastic way to engage with others who share those same passions. Striking up a relationship from common interests first can eventually lead to a business conversation.

Build a list of blogs to follow that pertains to personal passions and sprinkle this content into the social-media-sharing mix. Also consider revising the “About” language on one's website/blog and social profiles to reveal interesting and personal facts.

5. Share resources that answer questions.

Clients and the ideal potential clients no doubt have unanswered questions. Advisers should profile top clients and ask them what their top three concerns are if they are unsure. Ideally, advisers want to uncover a plethora of questions that to which they can provide the answers. Providing answers through your one's own blog content and social-media sharing can not only be extremely helpful to one's network of followers, it can lead them to view an adviser as the obvious choice as a financial partner.

Preferably, the resources shares on social networks should lead back to the web properties that owned (website or blog).

Building an optimized landing page on one's site that offers a helpful resource in exchange for a contact's information is a great way to initiate the lead cultivation process.

Just don't hound the contact that captured. Cultivate the relationship over time through a series of e-mails using an auto-responder, for example.

When a contact completes an adviser's form for the special resource promised, they may be interested, but they are most likely not ready to work with that adviser just yet. Consider that the contact has given the adviser permission to stay in front of them.

Those who invest in developing their own unique content and style for social sharing that is focused on their target demographic will not only set themselves apart from competitors but will be more successful in attracting desired clients and referrals.

Stephanie Sammons is the founder of Wired Advisor and is a consultant, marketer, speaker and writer. This commentary originally appeared in her blog.

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