Social media is an ever-changing landscape, with new platforms popping up all the time. Additionally, major social-media players continually change their platforms not only to monetize them but also to keep them interesting and useful to the user.
With platforms and strategies coming in and out of favor, what does a financial adviser really need to pay attention to?
Here are five social-media trends to be on the lookout for and stay ahead of this year.
Everything is going mobile. Most busy professionals rely heavily on their mobile devices and use them for everything from checking e-mail to reading articles, watching videos and even handling financial matters. Every adviser's website needs to be optimized for mobile. Visitors to the site should easily be able to view and navigate pages, contact the advisers and have access to their accounts, all via their mobile devices.
Also, think about incorporating ways to get in front of clients and prospects via mobile technology (applications, messages and e-mails). Most busy professionals have their devices practically glued to them. What better way to reach them than right where they are?
Expect to see an increase in the use of Google+. Although Google+ has been around since 2011, it is finally starting to gain momentum. Second only to Facebook in the highest number of monthly users, Google+ is seeing more and more businesses start to latch on and is proving itself a critical part of Google's overall plan in terms of search engine optimization. Expect to see more businesses and professionals using this site in addition to, or rather than, Facebook as they look to maximize SEO and get content out to a broader audience. For those who aren't already using Google+, now is a great time to create a presence and stay ahead of the game.
Incorporate images. Those who have teenagers or spouses prone to crafts and recipes undoubtedly have noticed the popularity of image-centric sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. Although I am not saying advisers need to be on these sites, such sites do serve a purpose, as does the message they are sending: People prefer more visual content than just text. Whether or not an adviser creates a presence on Instagram, be sure to find ways to incorporate images into social-media marketing strategies.
This can easily be done by adding a picture to a status update or sharing quotes of the week via a visually pleasing picture. Further, advisers should ensure that their website contains images of them and their office, and isn't overly laden with text and disclosure language. And again, don't forget to make the website and images mobile-ready.
Use of video and micro-videos is a must. We have seen a sharp rise in the use of video in social-media marketing. It is a great way to educate clients, as well as to give them a glimpse of who their advisers are. However, it seems as if two- to three-minute videos are increasingly becoming tough for people to sit through. Micro-videos to the rescue. Sites such as Vine and Instagram's video feature have made five- to 15-second videos rise sharply in popularity. Although this is hardly enough time to share a financial concept, it is a great way to engage and update clients and prospects, or share a “tip of the day.” Whatever the social-media sites used, the strategy should include a healthy dose of both short (two- to three-minute) and micro-videos.
Social-media marketing will be about adding value. Marketing used to be about getting one's name and product out there, but in 2014, it isn't enough to just let others know you exist. Clients and prospects are more educated than ever and have a wealth of information literally at their fingertips. Advisers who stand out will be the ones who provide real value to clients and prospects. I am not referring to the value brought by managing their portfolios but rather the value brought online. Whether through Facebook or LinkedIn status updates, blogging or videos, viewers need to feel they are getting value.
Advisers who haven't done so already should start creating their social-media editorial calendar for 2014 and ensure that it includes lots of educational and valuable content, posted on a regular basis.
There are many social-media trends to be on the lookout for this year.
These five are a great way to help start 2014 off right.
Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.