There are many layers to a successful marketing plan, and social media is no longer one that can be ignored, especially when marketing for financial advisors.
Networking and connecting with investors, influencers and partners is how new leads are made. But it can be difficult. Connecting with high-profile and influential people through phone calls and emails almost never works. They don’t have time to personally answer every inquiry. However, when a financial advisor reaches out to the same people on LinkedIn or Twitter, they are more often than not welcomed into their network with open arms. From there, they simply become part of the conversation, which opens the opportunity to build relationships.
According to data from LinkedIn/Cogent Research, more than 90 percent of high-net-worth investors use social media today, and 5 million investors with assets of $100,000 or more use social media to investigate their financial decisions. Data also reveals that 52 percent of affluent investors say they would interact with financial advisors via social media, yet only 4 percent have been engaged by a financial advisor online.
By simply taking advantage of the free opportunities to create profiles on popular social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you are automatically expanding your Internet footprint. However, in doing so, it’s important to remember that social media is not an end (you shouldn’t expect to generate new business from it); rather it is a means to increase your visibility within your target market. At a minimum, your participation provides the social proof that you do exist and that you have something of value to offer.
How the Top Social Advisors Do It
Advisors who are reluctant to dive into the social media pool can learn a thing or two from the more socially active financial advisors who have successfully turned their social media apparatus into client-building, lead-generating and influence-building machines. By taking a look at the most social financial advisors in the country, one can identify the core components that drive their digital strategy, including:
- An active blog. A blog is the central component of a social media strategy because it’s what showcases the advisor’s ideas, expertise and philosophy through fresh and compelling content. More importantly, blogs are social engagement mechanisms that make it exceedingly easy for people to share your posts with others, which can drive traffic to and from and between your other social media components.
- An active Twitter presence. With its ability to reach thousands of followers (and potential clients), Twitter provides the daily fuel to drive the compounding effects of a comprehensive digital strategy.
- Active engagement in two or more social media sites. LinkedIn is still the most popular social media site for financial advisors, but Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest are all in the mix.
On a typical day, a socially active advisor might spend 1 to 1-½ hours managing a social media strategy (or hires a part-time person to do it), which is probably the amount of time he or she might have spent in pre-social-media days on prospecting and managing an outbound marketing campaign. The difference is the advisor is now managing an inbound marketing campaign, reaching far more people who share some sort of interest while building more authority and influence in the market.
Set It and Forget It
In terms of scheduling social media posts, the more successful advisors work off of best practices based on optimum posting times for each medium. The consensus from a number of studies has shown that the best posting times for generating the strongest Click Through Rates (CTR) and responses are as follows:
- Twitter: For B2B, Wednesdays 1 to 5 p.m.; for B2C, late in the week through weekends, 1 to 4 p.m.
- Facebook: Late into the week from 1 to 4 p.m. with engagement being the highest Thursday and Friday
- LinkedIn: Midweek from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., noon, and 5 to 6 p.m.
With certain platforms, all postings can be pre-scheduled for these optimum times. This allows you to set it and forget it, creating posts early and focusing on other strategies throughout the week.
To ease the compliance burden, advisors can use an archiving solution that backs up all social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, for compliance review.
Convert Your Social Media Contacts into Prospects
The ultimate goal of your digital marketing strategy is to move prospective clients into your database so they can be cultivated into an advisory relationship with you. Up to this point, your efforts at building your online presence, increasing your online influence and building relationships are to lead your prospective clients along a process to where they are comfortable interacting with you.
Social media contacts who have moved along this process may be ready for more direct communication, so it is up to you to facilitate it. The most effective way is to utilize your website to create opt-in opportunities. This can be done by offering a subscription to a newsletter, a special offer for a free eBook or an invitation to a webinar. Once they enter your database, you can gather more information from them and begin to communicate in a more direct approach through email, private social messaging, phone or even face-to-face meetings.
The use of the Web and social media by high-net-worth and the emerging affluent will only increase from here, especially as more financial advisors migrate their marketing efforts from the physical world to the digital world. There will be more information to be found and more financial advisors to evaluate. However, as more advisors build their online presence for purposes of prospecting, the bar will be raised. Advisors who know how to engage their target market and build their online influence will have the competitive advantage. Building a social media campaign now will put you ahead of the rest, and when it comes to marketing for financial advisors, any leg up in the game is crucial.