Digital Technology: Friend or foe? Part 1

According to a 2018 study of 403 advisors by BNY/Pershing, over 90% of advisors spend less than 5% of their day on various forms of social media including LinkedIn, Twitter and email marketing programs. In contrast, 36% of investors age 40-64 research advisors online; that number jumps to 73% in the age cohort under 40.1 
 
In short, chances are that your clients and prospects are online. But the question is: Are you? And more importantly, what does your online presence say about you? Is it helping you build your business—or might it be hurting your chances of winning that next account and hitting your goals?

However, before you publish your first status update, tweet or video blog, make sure you have your bases covered: know the 6 key things TO DO and the 3 critical behaviors to avoid. Because like with most other relationships, social media is a commitment. It requires forethought, strategy and diligent execution.

The potential benefits of social media
From the comfort and convenience of your own office (or frankly any wirelessly enabled location of your choice), social media allows you to reinforce your and your team’s brand with clients and potentially attract prospects. When executed professionally, social media helps you build credibility and a following, and communicate your philosophy about life and business. Digital enablement, including social media, can be a very powerful business-building tool. Over 90% of digitally-enabled advisors increased their assets under management, with more than a third of the practices growing by more than 10% in a 12-month period.3 Reaping these sorts of rewards requires intentional execution, though. Otherwise, social media can risk hurting your business.

6 Do’s for maximizing your social media impact

#1. DO know the strengths of each of the major social media platforms and what investors expect to find about you on each.

Each of the following social media platforms may help you build credibility and a following and communicate your philosophy about life and business in a slightly different way, based on the types of investors active on the platforms and what type of information they expect to find about you on it.

LinkedIn
Great at helping you digitally network and expand your connections. It also allows you to uncover potential clients through current contacts.2  LinkedIn Navigator offers a systematized way to create niche marketing campaigns and build your business through target marketing in specific areas of expertise you may already have in your practice. Investors expect to find your work experience and education, areas of specialty, and your approach to working with clients.

Twitter
Can give you a way to connect with other users in your industry and help you foster media contacts.4  To be effective on Twitter, many users strive to build a following of at least 1,000 people, which requires tweeting many times per day. In my opinion, Twitter isn’t quite the marketing tool it once used to be—shock and awe seem to be ruling the day on this platform. However, the platform may still be necessary to prove your credibility as a digital advisor, so don’t discount it out of hand.

Facebook
Is a multi-generation communication tool with 1.52 billion daily active users according to the Facebook corporate website. Many Gen-Xers, Gen Y’s, Baby Boomers, and even Grandma are on Facebook. Millennials tend to be members too, although Snapchat and Instagram have taken the lead in that generation in recent years. When researching you on Facebook, investors expect to find personal information, certifications, awards and recognition, and areas of specialty.When I view someone’s Facebook page, I am looking for insights into their beliefs, values and general demeaner.

YouTube
Is a top contender for social media connection to your clients and prospects. Many people use YouTube interchangeably with Google to find answers to their questions. According to Spectrum Group, as cited by eMoney, 21% of millionaires use YouTube to watch videos on financial topics.6  I found this stat enlightening.

#2. DO build your message and strategy before you begin to post.
Letting your brand unfold as you go will leave your followers confused and unclear about what you stand for. Build a thoughtful and intentional messaging plan that goes out at least 6 months. What themes are most relevant to reach your ideal client? Which social media outlet will you use for which theme, and which communication device (whitepaper, video, blog, infographics, etc.) is best suited to drive engagement with your audience?

#3. DO be consistent in your posting frequency.
Posting once a month will not gain you the followers you need in order to monetize this process. Depending on the platform, you should plan to post several times per day. Followers will likely drop you immediately if they do not get a consistent, useful flow of information from you.

#4. DO abide by followership etiquette.
Invite people to follow you regularly and make sure you are following those who follow you.

#5. DO bank posts and videos in advance.
Help your future self out: Sock away some content ahead of time to help you stick to a regular publication cadence. You’ll be grateful when you hit a busy patch, are on vacation, or feel under the weather.

#6. DO be authentic.
Make sure that every word you post represents the person you want your best clients to see and reflects your true values and beliefs.

3 social media pitfalls to avoid

Social media can be a powerful growth engine—but it can also backfire. According to the BNY study cited earlier, one in three potential clients have checked an advisor’s Facebook page and over 50% of them then decided not to work with the advisor because of something they discovered there. The numbers are even more stark for investors under the age of 40: Two in three investors under the age of 40 have checked an advisor’s Facebook page, which led over 66% of them to decide not to do business with the advisor. The under 40’s investor IS your future client and they are much more tech enabled, so they deserve consideration by you as you begin your social media journey.7

How can you try to avoid these outcomes?

#1. Do NOT use social media as a political platform.
While it can be tempting to jump in on political banter in today’s social media world, it is a very risky strategy. Even on sites where you believe you are connected only with friends; your posts and information can spread in ways you might not have intended or expected. Remember that, as an advisor, you and your opinions represent a business brand—not just a personal brand.

Instead, keep your comments positive, aspirational and focused on how you truly want people to see you and interact with you. You will build a brand immediately either involuntarily or with purpose. The choice is yours.

#2. DO NOT get the facts wrong- No ‘Fake News’
Never represent personal commentary as fact. It is completely acceptable to post your opinions. Afterall people follow you because your opinion matters to them. Verifying stats and historical information before posting will engender trust among your readers.

#3. DO NOT target specific people
Can you post a rebuttal to commentary you’ve read? Of course. However, keep your rebuttal at a higher level and not directed specifically at one person or group. Challenge norms, policies and processes but always respect other views. Always ask yourself, What will be gained by posting this? What could the unintended consequences be?

THE BOTTOM LINE:

In today’s world, a social media presence is a valuable way to connect with clients and prospects consistently and with purpose. It is also necessary as the next generation, which is very digitally-savvy, becomes your primary client. Create a defined strategy and workflow to ensure consistency and reliability of your content. And most importantly, build your public brand by being mindful of how you want to be perceived by your best clients. In the meantime, happy posting!

1 Source: BNY/Pershing. Advisor Value propositions: How Advisors Showcase their value to investors and what investors secretly think.
2 Source: The Aite Group Survey of 403 U.S. Financial advisor Oct 2015 as published by: https://www.pershing.com/_global-assets/pdf/the-emerging-digital-advisor.pdf
3 Source: BNY/Pershing. Advisor Value propositions: How Advisors Showcase their value to investors and what investors secretly think. https://information.pershing.com/rs/651-GHF-471/images/per-advisor-value-propositions.pdf. Accessed on March 25, 2019
4 Source: The Aite Group Survey of 403 U.S. Financial advisor Oct 2015 as published by: https://www.pershing.com/_global-assets/pdf/the-emerging-digital-advisor.pdf
5 Source: The Aite Group Survey of 403 U.S. Financial advisor Oct 2015 as published by: https://www.pershing.com/_global-assets/pdf/the-emerging-digital-advisor.pdf
6 Source: The Aite Group Survey of 403 U.S. Financial advisor Oct 2015 as published by: https://www.pershing.com/_global-assets/pdf/the-emerging-digital-advisor.pdf https://information.pershing.com/rs/651-GHF-471/images/per-advisor-value-propositions.pdf. Accessed on March 25, 2019
7 Source: The Aite Group Survey of 403 U.S. Financial advisor Oct 2015 as published by: https://www.pershing.com/_global-assets/pdf/the-emerging-digital-advisor.pdf

 

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