Advisers—just like other social media users—may like to accumulate as many social media followers as they can. But, is that enough to help them grow their businesses? Regrettably, no.
Social media followers become a valuable asset only when they convert into brand evangelists—individuals who value your expertise and knowledge and willingly sing your praises everywhere, with their family, friends and online connections. Think about a time when you had an exceptional experience at your local dry cleaner, mechanic shop, vacation resort, health care provider or restaurant. That is a good example of an evangelizing experience. You willingly went out into the world and shared your experience, recommending that establishment to anyone you could.
In the world of financial advisers, social media has rapidly become an essential tool not only to communicate with key audiences but also to attract and retain new business. The American Century Investments’ 2011 Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study provides some compelling evidence of this growing trend. Let me share with you some key findings:
- 86% of the professionals surveyed have a business or personal profile/account
- In 2011, social media usage by financial professionals surged to 86% vs. 73% in 2010
- 55% of financial professionals use social media for business purposes several times a week; 24% use it daily
- Among financial professionals, use of social media for customer feedback jumped to 21% in 2011, up from 12% in 2010
Not a Collector Game
We all appreciate the way social media empower us to reach out to multiple audiences and establish and expand our networks. However, social media can lead its users to an obsession with metrics. Many advisers we come in contact with appear to be preoccupied with issues like “How many followers can I have on LinkedIn?” “How many ‘likes’ does my Facebook page have?” “How many times have my blog posts been re-Tweeted?”
Social media is not a “collector” game in which he or she who gathers the largest number of contacts wins. Building a significant number of followers is definitively a confirmation that you’re moving in the right direction, but that alone will not likely help you grow your book of business.
The Goal: A Trusted Source
The goal of your social media strategy should be to position yourself with your target audiences as an expert, trusted source, providing them with valuable information, actionable ideas and tips that motivate. Giving them that exceptional experience will naturally increase the odds to convert them into clients.
The first step is to direct your social followers to your website to share the content you have carefully crafted and help them attain a clear understanding of your capabilities and expertise, as well as familiarize with your brand.
Your social pages should feature specific calls to action that clearly and effortlessly guide visitors and followers to your website to perform one or more of the following tasks:
- contact your practice
- fill out a request-for-information form
- sign up for your newsletter
Although it is easy to be seduced by the appeal of metrics, the truth is that the number of followers, likes, comments and views you accumulate means nothing by itself. If your followers do not find value and are not engaged by what you say, the odds they will convert into clients or generate high-value leads for you will be nominal at best. That’s why it is imperative to understand that your followers’ networks do not hold value until you tap into it—strategically.
As an integral part of your overall marketing mix, your social media strategy must include very specific and well-defined goals for connecting with people that go beyond amassing sheer numbers. Advisers who fail to do that are in all likelihood wasting their time.
As always, questions and comments are welcome.
i-Impact Group Inc.