Social media was once considered a luxury, but it has quickly become crucial to differentiate in financial services. And while an estimated 84% of financial advisors are using social media, most are not using it in a way that brings them noticeable results.
Creating value through social media takes time and effort. Social selling differs from traditional selling methods and, for many financial advisors, there’s an initial learning curve. Successful social engagement revolves around relationships first and transactions second.
In this post, I’ll share firsthand lessons from my experience using social media to drive new business.
Build Top-Of-Mind Awareness
When potential buyers search for financial advice, it’s important to be top-of-mind. People do business with those who they know and trust.
Consider consumer shopping. Last week, I needed motor oil for my car, but I know nothing about motor oil. After browsing various options, I decided on Valvoline. Why? Not, because they’re the best or the cheapest. I chose them because I was more familiar with their brand than any other.
The best financial advisors can miss new opportunities simply because their competition has better name recognition. The question is, how can you build your brand without a massive advertising budget?
Provide consistent value to your target audience
In order to provide value, you first need to understand your audience and its needs, and then match your content accordingly. An advisor who sells to parents and mid-career professionals might publish something that aligns with their financial goals, such as:
- saving for retirement
- building a college fund for their kids
- budgeting their family’s expenses
For example, Nina O’Neal is a partner at Archer Investment Management who provides financial advice to working moms. She publishes a lot of helpful content, but the most noteworthy is her video series, “The Juggle is Real.” The series offers her target audience practical advice for dealing with the challenges–financial and otherwise–of being a working parent.
Research your audience to learn more about their challenges and pain points. Sometimes, the easiest way to learn is to ask or even survey your social media followers. You can also look up your competitors or an account with a similar follower profile to identify which of their content most resonates with your target audience.
Share resonant, non-business content
Your social presence shouldn’t be all business. Becoming top-of-mind is about capturing your audience’s attention and building a connection with them. Educational content is the cornerstone of your social presence, but personal content helps your audience relate to your human side.
Maybe you have a unique skill, hobby, or passion that drives you outside of your 9-to-5. Feel empowered to show your audience that you’re not just a work machine—show them that you’re human just like them.
Remember Nina O’Neal? She also tweets about her kids and other aspects of her personal life.
These posts are her most liked and re-tweeted which helps increase her reach and connect with a larger audience. As you consider your own audience, take some time to make a list of your personal interests and experiment with sharing related content to build a personal connection with them.
Grow deeper relationships
Face-to-face meetings are happening less frequently in the current environment (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Ironically, the amount of conversations we have in a day has never been higher—they’re just happening on social media. Social media has always been a conversation platform, but the pandemic has accelerated its adoption as a platform for building meaningful relationships.
Social media is the world’s largest networking event, and it takes place 24/7. Just like in-person networking events, to be successful on social media, you have to put yourself out there.
Engaging with your target audience is another way to build top-of-mind awareness. But, more importantly, it helps you build trust–which more than 50% of decision-makers view as the single most important factor to winning their business.
Here’s how you can deepen your relationships on social media:
Participate in groups and forums
Getting your name out there is as simple as engaging online. Online groups and forums are the best places to get started. Explore communities that align with your expertise and find opportunities to add value to conversations through relevant content.
For example, if you’re an advisor who helps clients plan their childrens’ college fund, you could participate and share insights in a group like the College Planning Forum on Linkedin.
Read into and understand the group before diving in. Many groups have rules and guidelines that govern community discussion. For instance, some groups may allow you to share promotional content while others might strictly forbid it.
Be sure to limit promotional posts, even in groups that allow them. The goal is to find and contribute to conversations so you can build relationships, not to inundate groups with pitches for your business.
Once you’re clear on the rules, start by finding at least one post a day that you can contribute to in a meaningful way. Share your thoughts with the person who posted. And check the comments to see if you can add value to other responses.
Engage with posts from your network
Another way to expand your reach and impact on platforms like LinkedIn is to be a top commenter on other people’s posts.
No matter the size of your network, if you have the top comment on relevant posts, you’ll be noticed by the original poster and their network. When commenting on a post, be sure to:
- Be one of the first to react, or others may beat you to the punch.
- Share something relevant that adds to the conversation in a meaningful way.
- Use casual language (you’re speaking to another human, not writing an essay).
Here’s a strong example of a comment that adds value and gets noticed:
Just as with group posts, engage with the person who wrote the original post, as well as other people who commented. Each individual post becomes an opportunity to engage and strengthen relationships.
Opportunities to grow as a thought leader on social media come knocking every few seconds–you just need to open the door!
Win and retain more business
Social selling done well can help advisors win more clients. 92% of advisors who use social media for business say it’s helped them gain new clients, according to a study by Putnam Investments.
But advisors must remember what Steve Watt mentions above: ‘cold-calling’ practices like spamming inboxes or constantly pitching products and services will do more harm than good.
Here’s how you can use social selling to win and retain business win without being a nuisance:
Establish a social engagement cadence
The best social sellers have a consistent, structured approach to their social media strategy.
Their followers can expect them to consistently share relevant content, engage with their shared posts, and contribute to conversations in a meaningful way.
With a clearly defined social cadence – advisors won’t just post when they feel like it, they’ll have a purposeful approach to their engagement on social media, driven by goals and success metrics.
Stan the Annuity Man posts instructional videos every couple of days to help his audience better understand the nuances of annuities. He shares these videos across multiple channels like YouTube, Twitter, and his website.
Not only is he providing value to his target audience, but he’s doing so consistently—establishing authenticity and trust. Here are four tips to help you get started:
Start with one channel
Curating content to share on every social media channel can feel daunting. In order to get off to a strong start, focus on one channel that you can use to consistently provide value to your audience.
Build a content plan
Will you share educational videos? Write educational blog posts? Tweet financial advice? (within the guardrails of compliance)
Start by deciding what kind of content you want to share and can produce at scale. Then plan out at least one month’s worth of content in that format.
For example, if you plan on sharing two educational videos a week, then you’ll need to plan out 8 videos for the month. Write down the topic for each video and a few key points you’ll discuss.
Create a schedule and stick to it
Create a schedule to determine when you’ll produce each piece of content and when you’ll share it. Set reminders so you don’t forget.
Use a social media management tool
Consider leveraging a platform like Seismic LiveSocial to not only find meaningful and relevant content, but to schedule your posts ahead of time.
Using a tool to manage and schedule posts saves you loads of time and makes social selling dramatically easier. You can take a few hours at the beginning of the week or month to create and schedule your posts. Then you’ll only need to set aside 30 min – 1 hour each day to engage with your network and social groups.
Choose the right social selling tools
Part of creating the ideal buyer persona is determining which social media platforms your target buyers use most often.
LinkedIn and Facebook are used most widely by advisors because they deliver attractive prospects, clients, and results, according to a study by Putnam Investments.
Once you’ve chosen the right social media platforms, consider putting tools in place to create a more seamless process.
For example, instead of spending time searching social media for great articles related to their field of interest, social selling platforms like Seismic LiveSocial can source tens of thousands of pieces of relevant content that are pre-approved and ready to post, eliminating most of the legwork for advisors to share valuable content.
Now, let’s get started!
Now that you’re one step closer to building top-of-mind awareness, growing deeper relationships, and winning new business on social media, the only thing left to do is get started.
Select the types of content you want to produce, choose the best social networks to engage with your target audience, and jump in!
Once social selling becomes a part of your daily activities, you’ll not only build momentum, but establish relationships and a client list that you never thought possible.
If you’d like to learn more about social selling, visit our Social Selling Resource Hub.