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Tackle those social-media faux pas

Apr 6, 2014 @ 12:01 am

With more financial advisers diving in and compliance reins beginning to loosen, the financial industry is starting to make its mark in social media.

Wirehouses and broker-dealers are beginning to allow their advisers a little more flexibility and, in doing so, are catching up with the social-media successes of registered investment advisers. Yet advisers are still making some correctable mistakes.

Here are a few:

Jumping in without a plan. Maintaining a social-media presence and working to maximize its benefits take time.

However, advisers can achieve a great return on investment when they have a social-media strategic plan.

That plan should include setting up websites, continually updating them, posting relevant and timely content, and determining how to use the sites for marketing and prospecting purposes. Be sure to evaluate the capacity of the firm's staff, both from a skill standpoint and from the standpoint of which team member has adequate time to devote to social-media efforts.

Determine who will be responsible for keeping content fresh, responding to posts and inquiries, and proactively prospecting for new clients.

Lack of promotion. Social media can be an excellent way to promote an advisory business, but not if clients and prospects don't know that the firm exists.

It is up to advisers to promote their sites. Mention them in client meetings and ask to connect with clients.

Provide links to social-media sites on the firm's website, and include the URLs for them on business cards, stationery and, most importantly, e-mail auto-signatures.

Not updating the sites. Continually add content, and ensure that profiles are kept up-to-date.

When clients and prospects visit an adviser's profile and see that there has been no status update in months or that the information is out-of-date, they think the adviser doesn't pay great attention to detail, which might affect whether they allow the adviser to manage their portfolios. Advisers should make monitoring or updating the sites part of their or their staff's weekly to-do list.

Not using video. When it comes to keeping up with marketing trends and delivering information in a way that clients and prospects want to hear, video is a must.

Although most advisers see this trend as a great way to communicate with their audience, very few have actually incorporated video into their social-media strategies. Start by including videos on the firm's website and making them a featured part of a LinkedIn profile.

Advisers who don't want to hire a professional video studio or editor should start with a quality webcam and record a quick (two minutes or less) video on a particular financial concept or one that provides market commentary. Use the videos on the firm's social-media sites, include them on the firm's website, create a YouTube channel to house them, and send them to clients via an e-mail newsletter.

Failing to impress clients. As good as an adviser may be at managing a portfolio, clients — especially top ones — are looking for something extra.

Social media can give advisers a great advantage in doing that. Pay attention to what is going on in clients' lives and figure out how to go above and beyond.

What do their social-media posts say about them?

Did they get a promotion? Send a gift.

Did they just have surgery? Send over a basket of goodies.

Although clients likely won't rave to their friends and colleagues about the stellar annual review they just had with their adviser, they are certain to mention the beautiful engraved stemware that was sent to celebrate their anniversary. That is how to create loyal clients who will refer an adviser again and again.

Going #hashtag-crazy. Hashtags are a great tool that can help link conversations on a particular topic, as well as help with promotion and searchability.

However, some people and businesses have a tendency to overdo it.

Advisers who use hashtags in their posts or tweets should pick only a couple. Advisers should create one that ties all their posts together and makes them more searchable (such as #ABCFinancial), and one for the topic at hand (such as #marketcommentary or #investmentstrategies).

This will ensure that the posts aren't too cluttered.

Numerous social-media faux pas exist, but tackling them one by one helps ensure that a firm's efforts stay on track.

Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.

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