“Reach out and touch someone” was the theme of an old AT&T commercial. But phones aren’t cutting-edge technology anymore. Today, advisors are trying to reach potential high-net-worth clients using online platforms that were unimaginable a decade ago.
“It’s still in its early phases,” says advisor Janet Barr of Collaborative Financial Solutions in Santa Barbara, about her social media effort. But she’s way ahead of many of her peers, having started using social media for business two years ago. Barr estimates that some 20% of new inquiries come through social media.
Her website includes links to her accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If you think that those services only attract young people with few resources, Barr’s experience says otherwise.
Even HNW individuals check out her cyber bona fides. “They get referred by attorneys and then they go to the website and start clicking on your social media,” she says. “They want to see that you’re out there, you’re involved.”
Barr blogs about once a week, but says she needs to do more. “I should be blogging almost every day.” Even so, her office posts material several times daily. As a woman in financial planning, Barr sees her voice as very different from those of “old school” advisors. As someone who served in the Army for four years, she also brings a veteran’s perspective to her commentary. She made sure to do a special Veterans Day blog post.
Barr usually tweets in the morning while watching financial news and preparing for the day. All of this activity boosts her Google search standing, which helps when trying to attract more HNW clients.
If all this sounds like a lot to do, Janet Barr has outside help from a social media marketing firm, MarkeTech Interactive, which specializes in financial advisors. The firm’s president, Gayle Barr (no relation to Janet) says that targeting HNW individuals is possible on sites like LinkedIn, which includes CEOs, COOs and other executives.
On LinkedIn, it’s important for advisors to initiate personal communications, says Gayle Barr. LinkedIn profiles list groups and associations that people are affiliated with. If you have a connection to or an interest in any of these groups, mention it in your personal message, she says.
For public comments on social media, advisors must make sure the message passes muster with their compliance departments as well as FINRA and SEC rules. But beyond the legal requirements, Gayle Barr says it’s important that people relate to your posts and then pass them on to others. In an echo of the old phone company ad, she says, “We make our posts touchable.”