Practice Management

Five ways to exploit social media

Jun 17, 2012 @ 12:01 am

By Davis Janowski

Consultants believe that when it comes to social media, more is more.

“I don't find that people find success from just one strategy, but it is the combination of strategies together that lead to success,” said Kristen Luke, founder and principal of consultant Wealth Management Marketing.

Like other experts, she suggests a measured yet pragmatic ap-proach: It is simply not enough to sign up as a subscriber on the big three networks (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and then think to yourself: “Now, they will come.”

“Social media is mostly about increasing exposure with your target market,” and that should include emphasizing any differentiators, Ms. Luke said.

One of her clients, for example, specializes in working with expatriates in Southeast Asia. The firm gets inquiries from both LinkedIn and its website, probably as a result of searches that brought up the firm's blog, she said.

Here are more tips provided by Ms. Luke and other industry experts (Visit the online version of this story for links to their firms and those of the archiving pro-viders mentioned below):

1. Make sure you have a social-media plan. It should in-clude a set of policies and specify the social-media archiving system you use. These are compliance requirements from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It is also a good idea to come up with a plan on how you might use social media in a crisis. If you have not already done so, add all your clients to the various channels you plan to use — at the very least, Twitter and LinkedIn. Let your clients know they can expect to hear from you through these channels if there is a sudden market downturn or other significant news.

2. Regularly post unique content that is of interest to your target market and that differentiates your business. This can be in the form of your own blogs, videos or podcasts, as well as articles from traditional publications that have online outlets to which you can, in turn, cross-link.

Take notes on the particular concerns of the clients you already have; if multiple clients share the same concern, you have a ready-made topic to tackle for a blog post or tweet.

It does not hurt to find clients active on social media themselves and begin following them. Showing such interest might just lead you to prospects among their friends.

And that last point can lead to another potential differentiator. If your clients are already retired and not yet on Twitter, but have computers, introduce them to the medium in a newsletter about how to set it up.

Follow that with the proviso that if they follow you, you will keep them up-to-date in real time about important market information. Voila! You remain not only a financial thought leader in the client's eyes but a technology leader, too.

3. Create a comprehensive LinkedIn profile. Even if you aren't actively participating on LinkedIn, having a complete profile will give the impression that you are active and will increase the likelihood of someone reaching out to you on the site for business or networking purposes. An incomplete profile, on the other hand, makes you look either half-hearted or, worse, that you are potentially hiding something.

And when it comes to LinkedIn, do not discount the potential locked up in your own clients if they are on there. Connect with them and, in doing so, begin to peruse their own networks. If it seems appropriate, you can mention that you noticed so-and-so in their network and ask your client if he or she would mind introducing you through the network. That is the exact way LinkedIn has been meant to be used from the start.

4. Start thinking about how new networks could help you. For example, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest are all about visuals. A bit of time there exploring the work of others might just give you some inspiration on how to freshen the visuals on your own website.

5. Collect feedback on your social-media efforts. Gaining an understanding of Google Analytics and some of the tenets of search engine optimization is a good place to start. This can provide you with a window not only into the amount of traffic your site is getting, but how people are finding your website, as well as the keywords that lead them there.

In addition, some of the archiving and social-media management tools being employed by broker-dealers and registered investment advisers have analytic components.

Three examples include Actiance, Socialware, and Arkovi. If you're not an RIA and completely in charge of your own destiny, inquire with headquarters about whether the firm is paying for one of these and whether you can see how your own site or social-media efforts are shaping up.

djanowski@investmentnews.com

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