What is social selling?

The sales landscape isn’t what it used to be. With so many resources at their fingertips, clients can complete extensive research and compare different companies, products, and services on their own. When they finally interact with an advisor, their first line of communication typically occurs in digital channels. To further meet the preferences of today’s clients, advisors need to find a way to engage with them early and often. 

This is why social selling is becoming increasingly important for every firm. Social selling leverages social media channels to improve engagement throughout the sales process. It embraces two-way communication in a more authentic and natural way instead of prioritizing transactional conversations. This gives advisors an opportunity to build trust at scale and nurture relationships that may eventually turn into business opportunities. 

The benefits of social media for financial advisors

Some financial firms are growing their businesses faster than ever. Others are having a much more difficult time. One reason for this success comes down to how well they’re navigating the digital transformation and embracing new strategies that help them keep pace with the rapid changes taking place. One critical part of this digital world is social media. 

Social media has evolved beyond its origins as platforms for connecting with friends and family. Now, social media is where trust is built, conversations begin, and business happens. And while more financial advisors are using social media, they aren’t using it in a way that brings them noticeable results. For example, many financial services firms encourage their advisors to share corporate content in order to extend their marketing efforts. There isn’t anything wrong with this strategy, but it doesn’t exactly help financial services firms stand out from their competitors. Instead, the firms and advisors who successfully use social media take a more human-centric approach that drives engagement, nurtures relationships, and sparks conversations that lead to business success. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what social selling looks like in the financial services industry, let’s look at how advisors can leverage social media channels for their business. 

Build top-of-mind awareness

When potential clients search for financial advice, it’s important to be top-of-mind. People do business with those who they know and trust.

The best financial advisors can miss new opportunities simply because their competition has better name recognition. So the question is, how can you build your personal brand to stand out from the crowd?

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. For example, an advisor who sells to parents and mid-career professionals might publish content that aligns with their financial goals, such as:

  • saving for retirement
  • building a college fund for their kids
  • budgeting their family’s expenses

To get a better idea of what this looks like in practice, follow Nina O’Neal who is a partner at Archer Investment Management. She provides financial advice to working moms and was recently named a Top 100 Financial Advisor. That’s because she continually contributes to critical conversations in the industry and helps educate investors by posting both personal and professional stories.

Remember to 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

Like Nina, your social presence shouldn’t be all business. Becoming top-of-mind is about capturing your audience’s attention and building an authentic connection with them. Educational content is the cornerstone of your social presence, but personal content helps your audience relate to your human side.

Not sure where to start? 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. Maybe you have a unique skill, hobby, or a 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 a person just like them.

Foster deeper relationships

Clients are more likely than ever to go digital when it comes to seeking financial advice. And while social media has always been a conversation platform, the pandemic accelerated its adoption as a platform for businesses. 

Capturing your target audience’s attention and engaging with them where they already are is a great way to build new relationships and foster existing ones. 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, and online groups and forums are the best place to get started. Explore communities that align with your expertise and find opportunities to add value to conversations through relevant content.

LinkedIn example of online groups and forums related to college planning.

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. 

Be sure to 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).

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. This is also the best way to interact with people before asking them to connect directly. When you sincerely add value, they’ll be open to engaging with you later on.

Win and retain more business

When advisors leverage social media they can win more clients. In fact, studies show that more than 70% of advisors who use social media for business were able to initiate relationships with clients.

But advisors must remember that 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. To make this an easy process, decide early on if you’ll share educational videos or write blog posts? 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. This will help you produce a content plan that’s scalable and feasible for the future.

Choose the right social selling channels and tools

Part of creating the ideal buyer persona is determining which social media platforms your target buyers use most often. Social media trends for business show that LinkedIn and Facebook are used most widely by advisors because they deliver attractive prospects, clients, and results. 

Once you’ve chosen the right social media platforms, consider putting tools in place to create a more seamless process. Instead of spending time searching social media for great articles related to their field of interest, social selling tools can help you 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.

Getting started

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. Here are a few helpful considerations as you create your plan.

  • Ask yourself, “What are you all about?” Who are you, and who do you serve? Are you an expert in a particular region, industry, or market segment? Do you solve specific problems for clients? Once you answer these questions, your social selling strategy will easily fall into place.
  • Why should people trust you? What’s the foundation of the trust you build? Is it your years of experience, community involvement, or network of existing clients? Clarify and center your approach on this in order to stay consistent.
  • What social platforms will you focus on? You don’t need to do it all, and you’ll likely be most successful leveraging one or two platforms consistently. Once you decide what platform you’ll use, research best practices, applicable forums to participate in, and create a cadence on how often you plan to post. 

How Seismic can help

Seismic’s enablement platform is trusted by more than 250 financial services firms to deliver better engagement and experiences to their clients. Our social selling platform, LiveSocial, helps advisors foster authentic relationships and grow client trust. Get a demo to see how, or learn more about social selling by visiting our Social Selling Resource Hub.