Social Media. What is it good for?
Before you say “absolutely nothing,” take a minute to consider some data from PEW Research Center: 74% of online adults use social networking sites.
And it’s not just those tech-dependent Millennials
either. Almost half (49%) of all online adults 65 and older use social networking sites and close to two-thirds (65%) of those 50-64 years old use them.1
So, while it’s possible your clients aren’t using social media, it’s highly unlikely. So if you’re not already thinking about how to incorporate social media into your business, now might be a really good time to start.
The first thing you should do is to understand the regulatory environment. It may seem daunting, but we’ve tried to make it a little easier for you with this handy guide: 5 things for financial advisors to consider about social media before getting started
. Once you’ve got that under your belt, the next step is to evaluate your options. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Tumblr, and the rest of the social networking sites that seem to sprout up seemingly over night, it can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
- Commit to just one channel at the beginning – You may think you need to have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, an Instagram account, a LinkedIn profile, a YouTube channel, a tumblr, a Google+ page, and a Pinterest board to be successful on social. But that’s not actually true. In fact, early on it’s better to choose one channel, get it right, and then expand from there, rather than trying to master all channels at once and doing a poor job of it. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Social media is not an exception. Austin’s Advice: Consider starting with Twitter or LinkedIn, as these are the networks people tend to go to most frequently to explore personal finance topics and to engage with industry experts.2
- Start slowly – Having an effective social media strategy does not require you to spend 24 hours a day glued to your computer, tablet, and smartphone. In fact, with a just a small commitment of time each week, you can establish a strong social media presence. The key is to make sure that you are consistently carving out some time every day – or every other day – to dedicate to it. Spend that time reading about what your connections are up to, responding to comments, and sharing your own updates. Each day, you’ll learn a little more and feel a little bit more comfortable. Austin’s Advice: Block out 15 minutes on your calendar every day and keep your social media activities limited to this window. This will help you make sure you are spending enough time on your social strategy without making it feel like a burden.
- Be a good listener – Find out which of your clients, colleagues, and trusted experts are active on social media and follow them. Spend time looking at what others are saying and what they are sharing. You’ll learn more about them, discover new ideas and identify areas where your expertise can add value to those relationships. Austin’s Advice: Find out where there is a gap between what your clients want to know and what others are saying. Use that as an opportunity to add value and you’ll begin to establish yourself as an expert.
- Build your audience – Unlike a field of dreams, once you have built your social media presence, your audience may not come right away. All followers are not created equal, so be thoughtful about building a quality audience. Proactively reach out to your clients and let them know how they can connect with you on the social networking sites they are already using. Austin’s Advice: Make it easy for your audience to connect with you by including links on your website and in your email communications.
- Retweet, repost, reshare – You don’t have to go it alone. There is lots of great content being created every day. Don’t be afraid to highlight what others are doing or saying – that’s part of what makes things social. Plus, it’s a way that you can help your clients sort through the noise and find the best information, even if you aren’t creating all of it yourself. If you are doing a good job of listening (as suggested above), you’ll always have plenty of options to choose from.Austin’s Advice: Russell has many great resources that may help you keep your content pipeline full. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to stay informed about videos, research and articles your clients might enjoy.
The bottom line
The journey of a thousand tweets starts with a single character. Nobody is born with a successful social media strategy, but the fastest way to learn something new is to practice every day.