Overwhelming. That is frequent feedback when discussing the first six months of a financial adviser's initial effort using social media in his or her business. Part of the challenge is learning techniques to use on social networks to filter and manage the fire hose of content that comes in the social stream.
Perhaps more compelling though is the ability to concentrate your efforts in a desire to have a regional focus. That's not to ignore those who want to carve out a topical niche versus geographic focus – we'll cover that in a future article.
I've appropriated the phrase “make your world small” from Jason Seiden, a speaker and expert in “socializing” the insides of corporations. It's a technique financial advisers can use to tame the wall of noise when looking at social media as a whole for their business.
There are a number of steps you can take to tackle this challenge of creating visibility while preserving your focus. It starts and ends with how you want to position yourself.
DEFINE YOUR GEOGRAPHIC SCOPE
Often the question is “Can I do this in my region? I don't need extended geographic reach?”. Yes is the answer – and it starts with taking advantage of what could be called the plumbing of your online presence.
Defining your identity online includes giving it geographic scope. It begins with your website and extends out to those social-media channels you choose to implement. For example:
*Identify the region(s) you serve on your website clearly, including offering location mapping and easy-to-use contact information,
*Leveraging Google's Places for Business, which insures your location is surfaced in search results across Google Search, Maps and Google+
*This incentivizes you to also use Google+ to amplify that directory listing with additional information, imagery, videos and more.
Next steps include ensuring that your biographical information on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter call out the region you serve. This can be as simple as saying “Providing expert advice in greater Boston” on Twitter to offering Google-like location information on your Facebook Business Page.
Part of shaping your regional social presence is also leveraging the filtering capabilities of the social networks themselves. Some very easy-to-use tools exist to get a sense for others active on social media in your region.
Facebook has made its graph search quite compelling, being able to search for phrases like “business owners in Raleigh, N.C.”, or “dentists in Cleveland” and find resulting pages and people across the platform. Likewise, Twitter offers an advance search tool that supports scouring across locations, hashtags, mentions of other Twitter accounts or simple keyword searches.
LinkedIn perhaps has the most fine-tuned search possibilities – enabling search by region, company and industry. Depending upon your subscription to LinkedIn, you can also search by years of experience, LinkedIn Groups, seniority level and company size.
Lastly, if you're using Google Places for Business, by default you will have a Google+ account and can also use these same search techniques to identify folks to connect with via Circles.
By seeking to cultivate connectivity to others in your region, you aren't simply developing a rapport and building new relationships. This also allows you to expand your regional voice and visibility as you engage with this group of connections.
A FILTERED VIEW
By taking these steps in defining your presence and building these regional connections, you can easily pivot from a global view of the social networks to this regional perspective. All of the networks mentioned offer the ability to tag or define groups of connections. You can use regional or other geographic names to do this grouping – be it via Facebook or Twitter Lists, LinkedIn's tags or Google+ Circles.
Adding connections to these lists and groupings are one-click actions and continuous, easy to maintain. Of course, it may take you some time to initially get these connections filtered if you already have a large following. It is well worth it to begin to manage your digital presence with renewed focus on your region.
Blane Warrene speaks and writes frequently on technology and the intersection of marketing and compliance in financial services. He co-founded Arkovi and QuonWarrene, and produces the Digital Well podcast. He is focused on helping financial advisers and institutions explore and define what being a digital business means to them.