Social media has become an integral part of our lives, helping us connect with friends and colleagues as well as serving as a tool to grow our businesses. It seems as though most people have mastered the “broadcast” portion of social media — posting tweets and status updates about themselves or their practices, and retweeting or posting information relevant to their audience. But that's only half the story.
Advisers should not overlook the research and engagement possibilities social media presents. Here are areas in which advisers can gather information and engage clients and prospects.
Most industry or company conferences have hashtags associated with them, whereby advisers can follow the tweets and posts of other attendees. This is an excellent way to gain information and get a recap of sessions and speakers. If you are unable to attend a particular conference, following its feed via social media will allow you to still feel a part of the show.
Additionally, paying attention to who is attending a conference by following who is posting about it on social media may present an opportunity to proactively connect, in-person, with another attendee. While at a conference recently, I had a former colleague reach out to me after she saw me post about the conference on my Facebook page. We were able to arrange time for a quick drink after one of the sessions and that meeting resulted in what could be an exciting business collaboration for both of us. You never know what opportunities may present themselves when you leverage online conversations.
Following your top clients and prospects online is a must — whether it be connecting with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, following them on Twitter, or setting up a Google Alert. This allows you to keep up to date on the happenings in their personal and professional world and gives you an opportunity to stay active in their lives.
Many advisers forget the key piece of social media is the “social” component. Social media platforms were built for people to engage with one another (not to simply post information). Watch what your clients and prospects are doing online. Pay attention to the things important to them and take time to engage them. Did your client get a promotion, or win an award? Has one of your top centers-of-influence just had a baby? Or gotten married? These milestones present an excellent opportunity to reach out to your clients (online or off).
FINANCIAL TRENDS AND TOPICS
At least 20 times a week I utter the phrase “Let me Google that!” Forget about encyclopedias or going to the library. Today, all the information we need is literally at our fingertips. While most of us are accustomed to “Googling” topics we want to learn about, it's important not to overlook the news and information gathering component presented by social media.
By following companies and news outlets on Twitter and Facebook, you have (free) access to a wealth of information. Further, when news breaks, it tends to hit the social media outlets more rapidly than local or national news. LinkedIn, and its mobile app Pulse, allows you to customize your homepage or feed with topics, categories, and publications of interest to you.
I leverage this to do research and stay on top of trends in the industry as well as to follow topics important to my adviser audience. Each morning, I am able to check one or two social media outlets and quickly review relevant articles. This, in combination with setting up Google Alerts on the topics and companies I want to keep up with, streamlines my research (or rather, it does the research piece for me) and saves valuable time.
We have covered the power of social media in identifying prospects multiple times in this column, but it still bears repeating. Make it a part of your practice each week or month to use the LinkedIn Advanced Search to identify second-degree connections fitting your target market and ask the common connection to introduce you. Advisers have seen tremendous growth in terms of client acquisition by using this simple, yet effective strategy.
Social media can be a game changer in your practice, as long as you are proactive in its use. Make sure you are not only posting information, but that you are also leveraging these tools for research and engagement.
Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.