Do I need a financial adviser?
What's the difference between a financial planner and financial adviser?
Are financial advisers just for rich people?
How many calories are in a strip of bacon?
OK, you can ignore that last one (it's 43). When I have questions, I can almost always find the answers on social media. That might not surprise you. But what I still find surprising is the number of people who are asking questions and never receiving answers.
Those first three questions are out there right now on Twitter, yet there are no replies. Ugh, talk about a wasted opportunity. If only there was someone in the financial advice space who was using Twitter, knew the answers and was looking for a way to build engagement.
See where I'm going?
Social media gives us a rare opportunity to be the expert we already are and share that knowledge with people just waiting for help. Think about it from that perspective. Social media is free (at least for now — that's a topic for a future column) and it's easily accessible. Thanks to compliance rules and regulations it's never going to replace your business, but it can certainly enhance it. Every kind of expert in the world is out there, and you are one of them.
That right there is what makes social media great. Sure it's full of negativity and trolling and all that, but finding your niche is what makes it worthwhile. For a lot of users, this creates their social media a-ha moment: that amazing light bulb that goes off and finally clarifies why you need to have a place on social media.
Let me give you an example of someone who has been doing this for a long time: Me.
Years ago, there was a software update available for iPhone users that didn't work as advertised, causing many people to have unusable phones. Everyone was talking about it on Twitter, tallying hundreds if not thousands of tweets per hour from frustrated and users. As someone very tuned into Apple, I not only knew about it, I found a potential fix.
Seeing all those panicked tweets, I began to respond to them one by one. No way could I get to all of them, but I did a few hundred. I searched for topics including, "My phone broke while updating software. Now what?" or "Broken iPhone, help!" My answers were simple and concise, but written personally to each person. To paraphrase, I wrote, "Try this, this and then this and see if that works." For many people this did work, and were they ever happy. Some of those people still follow me on Twitter. Others were just very happy that someone not only saw their cry for help but actually took the time to respond.
And that's a key phrase: "Took the time to respond." By default we expect our questions on social media to go nowhere. It's more a means of venting than the belief we'll be saved by Twitter. But for the people who see it as a chance to interact, engage and grow an audience, those are the people who will win.
Today, I'm considered an expert in all things iPhone (and Apple Watch), and people still come to me when they have issues. I'm pretty sure my knowledge would have been limited to parties and karaoke outings had it not been for social media.
Imagine if you, once a week, search social media for topics in your area of expertise? What kind of difference could you make?
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 email@example.com.