What Works in Social Media (for Financial Advisors)

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what works in social media (for financial advisors)

What works in social media (for financial advisors) is simple in theory, but more difficult in practice.

The reason it’s more difficult in practice is that to achieve meaningful business outcomes, social media requires your personal involvement, at least on some level.

Consider this:  Would you have an intern do your live, in-person networking for you? Would you have an intern deliver your presentation to a room full of qualified potential clients? Would you have an intern engage in direct conversations with potential clients? The answer is most likely “no.” I don’t know many (if any) financial advisors who would agree to being represented or replaced by an intern in these kinds of live, in-person settings. Perhaps, however, a trusted team member or members would be suitable to represent your firm and your messages publicly. Still, if it’s not you, there is an opportunity cost.

Being personally and genuinely engaged in the content development (your messaging) and building your community (online social networking) is the foundation for what works in social media. 

Don’t believe me? Just look around. Many highly successful business people who are leveraging content marketing and social media are not outsourcing or separating their personalities from their marketing efforts. Instead, they are deeply integrating these components. (see Michael Hyatt and Ric Edelman). Think about individuals such as Richard Branson and Oprah as well. These individuals have built their successful brands around who they are as people.

The Great Resistance

If you’re like most financial advisors, you might find that having to be personally involved in social media is a very painful truth. You don’t have the time to learn new tools and technologies, nor do you have the desire to. You don’t want communication to be more complex and networking to be more sophisticated (your cheese has been moved). You don’t believe in investing in something for your business that may not provide an immediate return (imagine if your best clients evaluated the value of your services based upon short-term performance).

If you want to be genuine, authentic, believable, and successful with a social media program, get personally involved in the content creation and social networking process. 

Get the coaching, guidance, and support you need, but don’t outsource your personality in the process or you will end up wasting even more time and money (it just doesn’t work). Instead, align your team (and/or outside partners) to support and facilitate your program as well as serve as amplifiers of your message. They can help you run your program as more of a “team effort.” Every successful leader has a great team in place, whether that team is internal or external.

Also, consider integrating social media tools into your business that can help automate the distribution of your messages (not the actual creation of your thought leadership). If you outsource your value messages, you may find that what’s being published on your blog and shared on your social profiles doesn’t really speak to who you are and what you stand for. It’s just not authentic and it won’t build trust.

The bottom line is, you need to learn the art of networking in the digital age. Infusing your personality into your social media program is extremely valuable in building trust. If you commit to being personally involved in social media, your true authentic self is going to shine through, and that’s what your ideal clients are going to be attracted to.

It’s your voice, and your original thoughts or opinions that are shared through your blog and on social networking sites that will lead to new and deeper relationships. That’s how you build a trusted and loyal network in the digital age. It’s also how you position yourself as an authority, which is a critical part of being an advisor!

It doesn’t matter if you have a firm of 20 advisors who help contribute to the core thought leadership and social networking, or you’re a one man/women practice. The message and the strategy should begin at the top.

It’s the people and their respective personalities sharing the messages that facilitate relationship development opportunities and attract the right kinds of clients into your business. It’s you and your team.

Shift Your “Time” Paradigm

Want to find time to integrate a comprehensive social media program (blogging/content development, social networking, email marketing) into your business?

View your social media program as a replacement for your existing non-productive marketing, communication, and business development activities that you may currently be spending time and money on (you may need to do an honest analysis here).

If you make the time for a comprehensive social media program and make it a priority in your business, you will begin to realize that marketing and communication with clients and prospects can become much more cost efficient. Accelerate your knowledge and stay on the cutting edge by working with people who know the tools and strategies and are able to provide tracking, insights, analysis, and guidance.

The longer you wait, the more difficult and expensive it will be to catch up on building this digital equity that is there for the taking. Building digital equity is a bit like saving for retirement. It takes time to build that nest egg and you have to keep adding to it consistently. 

The secret to what works in social media for financial advisors is…YOU and your personal, authentic contribution. Whether your contribution is at a higher level or you are in the trenches, having your name, your messages, and your personality infused in the process will make your program successful!

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About Stephanie Sammons

Stephanie Sammons is the founder and CEO of Wired Advisor™. She's been named one of the Top 25 Social Media Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn and a Top Financial Industry Blogger by RIABiz. As a CFP® and former 15-year financial advisor, Stephanie combines her "in the trenches" industry knowledge with her extensive digital marketing experience to teach financial advisors how to win and keep clients in a wired world. Follow Stephanie on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Ted Everett

    The key for financial advisors (or any industry) is to realize that social media and blogging in particular are just new tools to accomplish old, timeless objectives: connecting with prospects and building strong relationships as you turn same into life-long clients. Social media is old school marketing and business development on steroids.
    The core of the exercise is still to develop as detailed a view of your ideal client as you can and target them with your authentic voice–the same one you now share on the golf course, through seminars, in client meetings, and via quarterly letters/phone calls. And as you suggest, Stephanie, let the 20-something yr. old interns figure out the nuts and bolts of how to use social media–you focus on the voice: the philosophy and value-added service you uniquely provide.

    • http://www.wiredadvisor.com/about Stephanie Sammons

      Absolutely Ted, couldn’t have said it better myself! Hey, I want to interview you for my podcast as well. It’s been on my list to reach out to you!

  • Craig Faulkner

    Great article Stephanie, and I completely agree that advisors need to stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to social media. In practice, however, it can be daunting to do both social networking and content creation and keep it all going week after week. (In reality we find that most advisors don’t last more than a couple of weeks before things start to unravel!) But professional content creators can help with that consistency. You wouldn’t ask an intern to handle your important client contacts, but you might enlist the help of an expert in that process – under your direction. We have found that advisors who use a service (like ours at FMG Suite) that provides FINRA reviewed, meaningful videos, articles and other content to supplement their personal comments are able to maintain consistency, and have people coming back for more.

    • http://www.wiredadvisor.com/about Stephanie Sammons

      Thanks for the comment Craig. I have not found that to be the case that advisors “unravel” given the right coaching and support for their content strategy and social media program. The ones who do are in the minority. I mention in the article the importance of having team involvement or even outside partners and that is certainly recommended if needed.
      Although I do feel that it may be ok to supplement unique content with FINRA reviewed content from time to time, I’m not convinced that “canned” content is the way to go. We just haven’t seen the results, and I never saw the results as a 15 year wealth manager myself with this kind of content. It is just not unique enough and that’s huge in differentiating yourself online, in my opinion.
      Thus, there is plenty of room out there for multiple business models in the space!

  • http://www.upperlinefinancial.com H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP®

    Nice article Stephanie. I’m always surprised when I see big firm advisors tweeting their pre-approved research articles but never responding to anybody, or sharing anything about themselves. I imagine it’s like showing up at the cocktail party and just handing out flyers but never actually engaging anybody in conversation.

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