"I've been doing this for 25 years. I didn't need social media then, I don't need it now, and I'll never need it in the future if I keep doing what I'm doing."
Those are not the words of a financial adviser. They are the words of a journalist, and he was wrong. His profession was going through a seismic shift, one where digital and social media were viewed as must-have skills. They still are.
He eventually came around and grew to enjoy the engagement opportunities social media offers. His journey didn't come without bumps in the road, but as far as I know he's still using social media today.
I imagine there are financial advisers out there who share this view, advisers who indeed have built a successful practice without ever needing to retweet or share something online. To you, I'll share what I told my journalist friend three years ago: Things change. People change. Just because you've done something successfully and well for so long doesn't mean those days aren't going to end.
And even if you can stay the course, why would you? I've been reading a lot lately, as I'm sure you have too, that millennials are big fans of financial advisers. Yeah, the same millennials who grew up with social media. They're not going to flip through a phone book to find you or just take the word of a friend or colleague, though. They're going to look for your online presence. Do you have a Twitter account? Are you on Instagram? Do you blog about topics they might find interesting and helpful?
If your answer is no, no and no, then let's assume you'll lose out on valuable business. And let's talk about how easy it would be to have things work in your favor.
Do you have a Twitter account?
Twitter is a lot of things to a lot of people, but in a way it's almost a form of identification. I'm not as young as I feel, and I think it's weird when someone doesn't have a Twitter account. Granted, this is my profession, but I'd feel that way even if it wasn't.
I'll let you in on one of my favorite secrets. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to use Twitter, but it does take a long time to become good at using it. You don't have to be good right now, you just have to participate and listen. Create an account, search for colleagues, competitors or even clients, and pay attention to what they're talking about. That's a huge step that'll take you about 20 minutes.
Are you on Instagram?
This is going to sound so weird, but people like to know what other people look like. These days when we first meet people we google them or check their LinkedIn to familiarize ourselves. If you are looking for new business, showing your face and your office environment could go a long way in attracting interest. I already have a financial adviser who is active on social media, but if I was looking for one and you showed me your office on Instagram I would be very intrigued and impressed with your abilities.
Do you blog?
This one will take longer than opening up a Twitter account and putting a few photos up on Instagram, but in many ways it's the most valuable thing you can do. If I'm a potential client who has a financial question, I'm going to google it whether or not I talk to my financial adviser about it. Imagine if your name comes up for that person when they need it. You just scored some serious points. You could easily figure out the 10 most popular questions people have when looking for a financial adviser, write short posts addressing those concerns and end up introducing yourself to a lot of people.
I mentioned millennials in here a lot because it's an easy jump from younger investor to social media, but as my journalist friend found out, it's not just millennials who are using computers and social media today. It's everyone, and adding some sort of digital and social presence to your firm can only help you.
If you have a social media question or an idea for a column topic, please let me know. Tweet them to me with the hashtag #onsocialmedia or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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