The appeal of social media is clear: It lets you put yourself out there like no other tool can, and it can help investors quickly see who you are and how you can bring value to their lives. As a result, it has become one of the more intriguing ways to get affluent clients to start talking with you instead of with an advisor down the street.
That said, as you're surely aware, the social media landscape is full of traps and time sinks - making it tough to know how to navigate with these tools and take advantage of them. That's one reason many advisors don't bother with it. In the past several months, however, my firm, CEG Worldwide, has identified some key social media strategies that top financial advisors are using to attract new affluent clients.
BUILDING A FRAMEWORK
The first move you need to make is to put social media into the broader context of a smart strategic business plan. Specifically, social media should be part of an overall conversational marketing strategy. Conversational tactics are designed to generate awareness of you among the right affluent prospects and then enable you to engage those investors in a series of interactions so that many will ultimately choose to work with you. Through these interactions - or conversations - you can build significant credibility among your target niche and be seen as the go-to expert for help with all things financial. By positioning yourself as such an expert, you can generate a seemingly endless stream of prospective clients who are ideal for your business and who are already interested in working with you by the time they first visit your office.
A key point to remember is that social media should be one of many components in your overall approach. Your conversations with ideal prospects need to occur through multiple channels: articles, research papers and blog posts that you write; videos and webinars that you conduct; and in-person group presentations that you lead; as well as through social media. Simply pushing out a lot of information via social media channels won't be nearly as effective as incorporating social media into a larger framework for nurturing relationships with ideal clients through a regular series of conversations.
Ultimately, your social media efforts and other marketing initiatives must be coordinated and designed to send the right messages to your target audience. Our research found that affluent investors expect their advisors to demonstrate six key characteristics:
* Character - trustworthiness, honesty and integrity.
* Chemistry -a connection that shows you understand them deeply.
* Caring - a sense that you empathize with your clients and that you value them as people, not just as revenue sources.
* Competence - technical investment-related skills as well as the perception that you are a true leader in your areas of expertise.
* Cost effectiveness - proof that you provide high value for your cost.
* Consultative - a willingness to collaborate with clients.
If you convey these traits in your social media messaging and in your other marketing efforts, you'll find that more investors will want to engage with you and explore working together.
I've spent a lot of time in the past year talking with advisors who are using social media strategically and having success. What I've found is that they tend to take one or more of the following steps:
1. Create a LinkedIn professional profile. LinkedIn is a great channel for positioning yourself as an expert. Create a profile that articulates your compelling value proposition - for example, being a personal CFO to your clients and coordinating the efforts of all their advisors. Remember that clients want to be consultative - they're the CEOs, essentially, but you can communicate how you will help them as their personal CFO in making smart decisions about their money. Also share your positioning statement and summarize how you do great work for your clients. Make it benefits-oriented. You might consider working with a freelance writer to hone your messaging so that it's on target based on your chosen niche, and you'll want to work with your compliance officers, of course.
2. Create a Facebook personal profile. Don't initially make a fan page for your practice - it won't do anything to generate business or create much interest in you. Instead, demonstrate the traits of chemistry and caring by having a personal profile in which you share select personal elements. One advisor we work with is an auto-racing enthusiast. He shares details on Facebook. I recently posted pictures from a big hike I took. Keep it fun and light, and don't post anything you don't want the whole world to see.