- TJ Kelly, a social media strategist for Edelman Digital
- Jim Bell, an RIA and founder of Bell Investments
- Halah Touryalai, a journalist at Forbes.com
- Susan Forman, head of PR for Schwab’s RIA line of services
Kelly started off by saying that while social media has changed the way we communicate, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: content is king.
“Time and attention are finite,” Kelly said. “Let content define your social strategy for you; it is the most important piece. Before you jump into social media, understand what you will be doing with content first. And remember that people love a good story. Wrap your content in a story,” Kelly said.
Kelly also emphasized, and I agree, that social media is just one part of your digital strategy. “It is one piece of the larger pie. Keep it in perspective and don’t get caught up in craziness,” Kelly said.
To hammer home the point that content is king, Kelly cited the following statistics:
- 23% of all social media communications include links to content.
- 72 hours of video is uploaded YouTube every minute.
- 250 million photos are posted to Facebook daily.
- 42% of all tweets link to content, which is logical in that you can’t say much in 140 characters alone so linking to relevant content is essential.
Don't Be a Robot
Long-time journalist Halah Touryalai said that social media has changed the way journalists relate to their readers.
“It’s no longer just a reporter feeding information to the readers, Touryalai said. “Now, journalists can now hear immediately from readers—it’s so much more public and immediate,” she said.
Touryalai reminds advisors to “engage—you are not a robot. Be human; use your voice. Don't be so static online,” she encouraged.
I agree with Touryalai. People like an authentic voice. Being a three-dimensional professional can pay huge dividends. Leave the sterile content to others. You want people to come back and hear what you are saying. Don’t just share a link share some sort of comment or analysis—people want to know what you think.
Like Touryalai, I always suggest that firm-based communications on social media adopt a business casual tone. Mix it up. Show your human interests, passions and motivations—especially on Facebook. Another good idea from Touryalai, when there are a number of people posting on a social site that is representing the company’s brand versus an individual professional: have each person sign off on each post with their initials.
Don't Just Create More Noise
Kelly reminded the audience to think about what is creating noise, and to strive to ensure that their content was relevant and meaningful to the circles of people following them on any specific social media platform. Kelly emphasized that each of the social sites has a slightly different focus, tone and use. For instance, LinkedIn is a business professional networking site, Facebook tends to be more visual and more personal, Twitter is a great way to consume a lot of content in a short amount of time (especially if you are following thoughtful people who are interested in the same type of information or industry trend).
Social Media on the Rise
Social media is all about building trust and reputation. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust in social media is on the rise—from 8% in 2011 to 14% in 2012. Compare those trust-numbers to traditional news, which shows a smaller increase—29% in 2011 to 32% in 2012.
“We are seeing a diversification of media and trust in information sources,” Kelly said as he reminded us that reputation is based on past behavior. “63% need to see something 3-5 times before they begin to believe something; overcoming skepticism requires repetition. Social media is great way to build trust.”
More and more, social media is also driving search engine results. When you look at a keyword search for financial planners in any given location, the paid items will come up at the tops and sides of the page. Next on the page will be the items that are “owned” by relevant firms (such as websites and blogs). We are also now seeing social (e.g., LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook) and location-based listings (e.g., Google Profiles, Google ) come up on the first search page, along with articles published on traditional news sites and search-engine-optimized news releases.
I’ve written a lot about these strategies right here on Financial-Planning.com and I invite you to visit the Marketing Maven article archive to learn more there.