Financial services companies have come to understand that if they want to stay competitive in a digital age, social media must be a strategic part of their overall marketing plan.
Yet as more advisers incorporate social media into their practices, many are not certain of how to appropriately track and measure their impact online.
Social media serves three primary functions for advisers: marketing and branding, client engagement and lead generation. Each of these functions needs to be analyzed and measured.
The following steps will help you judge if your social media efforts are paying off.
1. Marketing and branding
The goal of most financial advisers (the good ones, at least) is to serve clients and build their practice. The best way to achieve that in a technology-driven environment is to put your name out there, to engage people and to get them talking about you (in a good way, of course). How do you know if you're doing that?
A few key metrics will let you know if your social media efforts are paying off in terms of marketing and branding.
First, track your followers and likes on the various social media platforms. Remember, it's not a race to increase how many followers you have (which is why paid-for likes are a waste of money), but to raise the quality of targeted followers. Use the analytics tools provided on Facebook and LinkedIn to assess the demographics of your audience so you can best market to and engage them.
Further, a primary function of your social media profiles and pages should be to drive traffic to your website (which contains much more detailed information on you and your practice). Google Analytics can track the origin of website traffic. If one of your social media platforms consistently drives more people to your website, you know on which outlet to conconcentrate your efforts.
2. Client engagement
This is perhaps the most important metric and probably the hardest to track. Engaged clients and followers find the information you share with them to be of value. They show this by engaging in online conversations with you.
Likes, comments and shares of your LinkedIn and Facebook statuses and retweets of your Twitter posts are the best indicators of success in this area. If the information you share isn't being commented on or shared, you are missing the mark with your target audience. Pay attention to the type of posts and topics that generate the most discussion, and stay actively engaged in those conversations.
Facebook page analytics track likes, reach and visits. It also will let you look at prior posts to determine what type of post (link, photo, etc.) engages the most followers. Facebook also suggests “pages to watch” so you can compare your page to others'. It lets you explore the demographics of your followers, as well as when people are visiting.
3. Lead generation
LinkedIn offers a similar analytics feature, letting you view data about your page to gain insight on its performance. The platform presents an almost limitless opportunity to identify prospects fitting your target demographic. It also lets you know who in your network can make an introduction to desirable prospects.
Proactive research of your target market and outreach to your common connection to request an introduction should be tracked via your customer relationship management system and indicate that LinkedIn is the source type for this referral. You can then see how much new business is a result of your online prospecting efforts.
Many advisers I coach have used this strategy and in a short time attributed more than half of new business to leveraging LinkedIn. It is perhaps the easiest social media metric to track — and likely the one that will affect your bottom line most rapidly.
In the coming month, we'll dig a bit deeper into client engagement and education, and dive into the real return on investment in social media: relationships.
Kristin Andree (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.