How important is Facebook for financial advisors?
It is hard to ignore a social network that has over 1 Billion members. Facebook has essentially become the “personal” web. Therefore, it’s important to build a presence and become visible where your clients and potential clients are spending their time.
With Facebook Graph Search, Facebook’s internal search engine, you now have the opportunity to be found within Facebook. In order to surface in Facebook searches, you need a Facebook Business Page to start with. Currently you can build both a personal profile and a separate business page on Facebook. Your business page is completely separate from your personal profile! (Many financial advisors worry that the two are integrated)
Whether you decide to become active on Facebook is secondary. Most importantly, building a personal and business presence on the network will create strong digital reputation assets for your name and your company name online inside and outside of Facebook. These links to your profile and page will serve as positive gateways to your brand.
Do I need to have a Facebook Personal Profile?
By building a personal profile on Facebook, you can connect with family, friends new or old, and anyone you are comfortable letting in to view the more “personal” aspects of your life such as your passions, hobbies, interests, family, activities, etc. A good rule of thumb when it comes to sharing information about who you are as a person is to share as much as you are comfortable with.
What truly differentiates you from anyone else is your personality. Facebook personal profiles are built for showcasing personalities.
Many financial advisors complain that they do not want to connect with old friends. Keep in mind that you do have control over who you connect with as well as your privacy settings.
Remember, we build relationships around common interests. In fact, in many cases it’s a common personal thread that tips the scale from prospect to client. Your Facebook personal profile can be a great way to be visible in a way that shows your human side. You will not want to share information about your practice here, however, from time to time it is very acceptable to post financial articles of interest that you stumble across online.
What Privacy Options are Recommended for my Facebook Personal Profile?
When determining the privacy settings for your personal profile, consider choosing the option to allow everyone find and discover your profile. You can determine who can see what you share publicly with each update you share on your timeline categorizing your updates as public, visible to friends, visible to friends of friends, and visible to friends but not acquaintances. If you receive invitations from people you don’t know, suggest that they “follow” your updates instead of “friend-ing” you on Facebook, and explain that you only connect with family and friends.
In this article, the Wall Street Journal provides an excellent, in-depth overview of Facebook privacy options: A Guide to Facebook’s Privacy Options. Regardless of how you decide to utilize your Facebook personal profile, always maintain your professionalism.
Normally your personal profile will serve as a personal community for following and sharing updates and photos with family, friends, and business colleagues who are friends. Don’t minimize the fact that these contacts can be valuable referral sources for you!
Examples of the opportunities that developed from having a Facebook personal profile:
Recently I was introduced to a local attorney at an event by a friend of mine who I’m connected with personally on Facebook. At the event, the 3 of us discussed wine and travel. Later, I saw an update in my newsfeed where my friend had posted something about an upcoming trip she was taking. Underneath her update, I noticed where that same attorney that she had introduced me to at the event had also posted a comment to this stream. I decided to add to the discussion as well which continued on for a bit. From there, I was able to easily connect with the attorney on Facebook. Not only had we met in person, but we had both participated in an online conversation together with a mutual friend! To connect directly on Facebook was a simple and natural next step.
Now we could both learn more about each other with regard to background, family, and business (depending on what we decide to show on our respective profiles). Remember, ultimately you have control over what you share with whom through your privacy settings and at the individual post level.
I also have an attorney friend who was ultimately chosen by a new client because they discovered on Facebook that she loved to snow ski! (and they did too)
This is a perfect example of how establishing a personal profile can help you to get one step closer to the people that you meet in your community and stay top of mind.
Is it worthwhile to create a Facebook Page for My Business?
A Facebook Business Page is an important digital “reputation” asset for your business. The link to your page will rank well in search engines, and the page can showcase your branding as well. This allows you to create a consistent presence across your website, blog, and Facebook. Consider your Facebook Business Page a “mini” website. Even if you never populate your page with updates, it is still an important search engine asset.
In order to build traction with a Facebook Business Page, you need to build your community of fans first, update your page frequently and consistently with insightful information, and foster engagement with your fans.
To build fans for your page, consider the following ideas:
- Send an email to your list of clients, prospects, and professional contacts asking them to “Join Your Community” on Facebook (be sure to tell them the benefits of doing so)
- Send an update to your connections on your personal Facebook profile announcing your page
- Place a Facebook Fan Box on your blog or website (social proof)
- Post status updates to your page that engage your fans (use image posts, questions, polls, etc.)
- Share your Facebook page posts across your other social networks
- Run targeted Facebook Ads (Learn more about Facebook Ads in this post)
Get creative with the status updates you post to your page. Not only can you share financially-related insights and information on your business page, but you can also share information about your community involvement, local events, speaking engagements, and even your own prospect or client events. Use photos and videos to tell your story, share quotes, and ask questions.
Review your Facebook page insights to determine which updates get more views and engagement. As you start to track your activity, you can make better decisions about what resonates best with your audience.
Learn more about Facebook Business Pages straight from the source; Facebook.
Should you ditch your website or your blog in favor of Facebook?
Absolutely not. Building digital assets that you OWN is critical. Think of your digital real estate in terms of renting and owning. Your profiles on social media sites are rented. You don’t own them. They can be deleted by the social network without any warning or explanation (and this has happened to many businesses on Facebook in particular). Additionally, Facebook changes it’s algorithm (called EDGERank) for how visible your posts will be to your community. Currently only an average of 16% of the fans who opted in to join your page see your updates! You can’t build your primary digital home on shifting sands.
The ideal “financial advisor digital marketing portfolio” should be anchored by a professional website and blogging platform as a home base with your social media channels tightly integrated. Ultimately websites as we know them will give way to blogging platforms due to the ability to easily self-publish or embed content (articles, videos, podcasts, ebooks) and share that content with your social communities. Search engines don’t favor static or dead websites.
Blogging technology plays very well with Facebook and other social sites. Not only can you integrate Facebook “social plugins” into your blog to tie in more closely with the network, you can share your blog posts to your Facebook Business Page manually or automatically through tools. Lastly, a Facebook “Like” button can be place on each and every blog post to encourage social sharing from visitors.
More posts to read about Facebook for Financial Advisors:
Have you established your Facebook presence yet? Are you active on Facebook? What do you believe are the pros and cons?