Getting past the fundamentals of having a digital presence can take time in our industry. Thankfully, the momentum has picked up from regulators during the past two years, offering more functional guidance. Likewise many individuals and firms have been experimenting enough to be prepared to graduate to the next level.
Of course moving to an active position as a digital business means leveraging social media as a key medium. This will require, at minimum, some core digital accounts — LinkedIn and Twitter and a blog, and perhaps more.
A common refrain at this point leads to the discussion of three key challenges:
• Identifying what you seek to discuss online.
• How to build a supply of content.
• What are the right frequencies to use in your digital publishing?
THE KEY(WORDS) OF YOUR BUSINESS
All of us can identify a handful of central topics that our business revolves around. Perhaps your business is being an expert in retirement plan consulting, advising physicians, facilitating the finances of divorce or enabling business owners to engage in philanthropy. Whatever those topics are, they will drive the hub of your content planning — both content you share by others and the content you create yourself.
By using these topics as a base, you can identify the themes and area(s) of expertise you inhabit and build upon them through your social-media activity. It is essential that you stake claim to these topics first before focusing on sharing others' content. Having the initiative to create your own content brings immense value to how you are assessed by others.
Stephanie Sammons, chief executive at Wired Advisor, said that is central to success as a digital business.
“It's critical that you have a unique perspective and infuse your personality into your content. This is what will differentiate you from anyone else in your space and help you build relationships with other influencers,” Ms. Sammons said.
"Credibility and consistency builds trust online. This means you need to showcase a professional "personal brand" as a financial adviser across the social web, and bring value with each and every action you take,” she added.
Through the lens Ms. Sammons presents, you can begin to build a content supply chain you can share regularly that showcases that expertise, building credibility. A key tip here is insuring you use an editorial calendar to capture the ideas gathered from research and the snippets of material you create as notes that will become longer-form content, perhaps based on themes — seasonal, calendar-based or focused on lifestyle moments (i.e. marriage, birth, wedding, college, etc.).
CHOOSING YOUR FREQUENCIES
When thinking in terms of now having your own content at the ready — this is where we establish our rhythm. The most important discipline here is consistency. Ms. Sammons concurred here and added, "If you want to establish yourself as an online influencer, you have to publish your own unique thought leadership content and do so consistently.”
There's been quite a body of work in recent years on the optimal frequencies and times of content publishing. Likewise, there's a large variation of opinions of what works. What you can do is look at the fundamentals of your business and how you work and communicate with clients, influencers and digital connections now. This will give you a realistic sense of what your frequency should be.
There are some general rules of thumb you can work from.
1. Long-form content like a blog, allows for articles as well as audio, video and other interactive choices to be the centerpiece of your content. It is best to start with a frequency that allows for you to create relevant and polished material. The initial recommendation here is at minimum, twice monthly. You can adjust this according to the feedback and engagement you receive over time. And don't forget to ask for feedback as you progress.
2. Short-form content such as tweets, status updates and wall posts are where you can fold in content you share from others, as well as your comment, tips and other brief posts. Here you should seek to interact at minimum three to five times weekly. You'll see wide variations here — where as engagement occurs, you may shift to three to five times daily. This will ebb and flow and that is okay.
A powerful result in working through your content plan and establishing a rhythm for publishing is being digital becomes less burdensome. Like other workflows in your business that become second nature with time, so does the shift to being a digital business. Rather than feeling like an extra task that cramps your schedule, digital simply means new, perhaps more effective and measurable ways to communicate and market your business.
Blane Warrene speaks and writes frequently on technology and the intersection of marketing and compliance in financial services. He co-founded Arkovi and QuonWarrene, the former acquired by RegEd in 2012. He produces the Digital Well podcast and is focused on helping financial advisers and institutions explore and define what being a digital business means to them.