1 Comment

Making Social Media Work for You

“I need to start using social media in my practice.”

Is that what you’re telling yourself? It’s a great place to start, but there’s a lot more to social media success than just “being there.” The first question I ask planners to consider is, “Why am I using (or planning to use) social media as part of my marketing strategy?”

If it’s because you want to let the world know your political stance or complain about something, it’s probably not the best use of your time (on or off the clock). But if it’s to build a community, get the word out about your business and show you are an expert in financial planning—then social media can be an extremely valuable tool! It’s all in how you make your plan, execute it and stick with it.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips below to help you get started.

Social Media Has Its Place…

…But that doesn’t mean it should run your schedule. It’s so easy to get sucked into your Facebook timeline, or deep into the string of replies to a tweet. Responding in a timely manner is important—and now platforms like Facebook track your response rate—but don’t beat yourself up trying to answer every message or comment 15 seconds after it comes through.

An easy solution is to turn on notifications for direct messages, which is where most people go when they are seeking help from you or your business. For comments that come through, set aside a daily time block to monitor your page(s). I recommend 10 minutes; unless you are a social media superstar, that is likely enough time to ensure that you are seeing all of the comments that have been published on each of your posts.

It’s also equally important to have an established process in place to handle complaints, mentions and comments on your social media platforms. Whether it’s the CEO or a part-time intern who is monitoring the account, you want everybody to be on the same page and know when to respond, and how to respond when it’s appropriate.

Create a Lasting Connection

Social media offers a great way to help people understand who you, and your business, really are. If your customers are really buying “you,” what do you want and need them to know ? Use your social media platforms to connect with your audience and have a discussion. Keep asking them questions and producing different types of content—if you pay attention, you’ll start to notice patterns and understand the topics that truly matter to your followers.

Did you post something that got absolutely no engagement? Take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Social media is a process of trial and error: test, gather data and adjust your strategy.

Consistency is Critical

Raise your hand if you think consistency is important. If you don’t see your hand reflected in the computer monitor, we need to take this offline. (And if you’re the guy who raised his hand on the subway, don’t worry—you’re definitely not the weirdest one on that train.)

When it comes to social media, consistency is key. It doesn’t matter whether you post every day or once per week—being consistent builds trust with your audience. An easy way to keep track of your content is through a calendar. It doesn’t matter if you use an Excel spreadsheet or a sophisticated project management tool; find what works for you and use it. You can stop at Level 1, or go 100 Levels deep – it all depends on your skill level, interest and the time you can put toward social media. Here’s what Levels 1, 10 and 100 might look like:

Level 1: I want to post on each platform once a week. How do I make it look like I’m active on social media?

Determine the platforms you want to be active on and spread out your content. Use the ideas in Level 10 below for content generation, and set up a simple calendar like this:

Calendar 1.png

Level 10: I want to post on each platform once per day. But how in the world will I create enough content for that?!

It’s a lot easier than you think! All your content doesn’t have to be original blogs that are thousands of words each. Here’s one example:

Level 10 Calendar.png

Build fun stuff about you and your company into your social media plan. People want to know about you; they can easily learn about your products and services through your website and by contacting you.

Level 100: Alright, I’ve got all this down. I want to post on multiple social media platforms multiple times a day.

Awesome! Remember how I said you could use an Excel spreadsheet for your content calendar? If you didn’t believe me, now you should! I love Google Docs, and use it for scheduling content across the Financial Planning Association’s social media platforms.

Here’s my outline:

Level 100

It’s color-coded by type of content. Each type of content goes out the same day each week (consistency is key). I sprinkle in Instagram posts throughout the calendar, based on what content I think will work well there (it’s not a huge platform for us, so I don’t put as much attention there).

A content writer I work with swears by Airtable—I’ve used it with her, and it is a neat platform. Ultimately, it boils down to what works best for you and what will keep you organized and on track.

I’ll close with a few of my key things to remember about social media:

  1. A consistent, regular presence is key.
  2. Make sure your profile info is completed and detailed; people often go to social media instead of Google to learn more about you or how to get in touch with you. Just because something is not my favorite platform doesn’t mean I would take my company off it.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Case in point: Instagram not updating anybody’s feeds after the iOS update earlier this year. It took at least a week before I saw any new content in my feed…which means I didn’t see any new content from the businesses I follow.
  4. Create a content calendar—it makes your life easier!
  5. Your social media posts, retweets, likes, favorites (all of it) is reflective of YOU, your beliefs and your business. Be intentional with what you like and what you post.

As a final note, social media is a free* platform to tell your story. Why the asterisk? Because nothing is truly free. Organic content costs you your time, and paid advertising costs you time and money.

The takeaway? Be intentional with every piece of content you create and post.

Now, get out there and hashtag make it a great day!

Mari Shirley Headshot

Mari Shirley has worked in communications and marketing for a decade, mostly in the financial industry. She started her career in public relations at the University of Georgia Athletic Association (Go Dawgs!), and before joining the Financial Planning Association, she was a brand marketer for Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and SmartVestor programs. At FPA, she focuses on social media strategy and brand and digital marketing.


1 Comment

Power and Pitfalls of Digital Marketing

Building a positive professional reputation is a journey. Fortunately, digital media marketing has facilitated this process. The rapid advancement of website development allows you to launch a professional and beautiful website quickly. Social media marketing enables you to push out coordinated messages across many social media platforms—LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. In addition, social media publishing websites like Hootsuite, allow you post on multiple platforms at once. Even more, people are now able to find you easily and quickly. The ubiquitous Google search reveals loads of information, and there’s the rub!

A 2018 Pershing study of investors revealed that one in three investors searched advisers on Facebook and over 50 percent decided to reject the adviser based on their personal Facebook, not their LinkedIn profile or their website. Wow! This is a sobering reminder that everything impacts your success. Even lack of presence affects your brand; not having a presence can be as damaging as having the wrong kind of presence.

I recall coaching a father and son team together. The father was actively resisting a digital presence. His son was unable to persuade him of the importance of having a digital brand. When I explained that having no digital presence was the same as having no business card, no brochure, no sign on the office door and no listing in the phone book, the father immediately became an enthusiastic devotee of digital marketing.

Given the power of the Internet to enhance (or diminish) your professional reputation, guidelines are helpful. I recommend the 3 D’s of digital communication: discreet, diplomatic and dignified.

Deeper Dive into the 3 D’s

Discreet: Discretion was revered at one time. It was considered boorish, rude and self-centered to endlessly disgorge personal details. This is particularly true for older clients and prospects. Discretion will only enhance your brand.

Diplomatic: Children are taught to be considerate and not hurt other people’s feelings. That’s diplomacy in a nutshell. Some clients will not care about your personal social and political views, but others will. Aim to be a Rorschach test. Allow them to interpret you, from their point of view. Everyone likes their viewpoint affirmed.

Dignified: Self-control, moderation and honorable behavior are hallmarks of being dignified. Dignity wraps us in a pleasant, peaceful and respectful aroma. Can you imagine if everything posted on the Internet was dignified? How delightful that would be!

The 3 D’s of communication protect your reputation from the damaging 3 I’s of the Internet, the mundane posts that are inane, the strident that are irritating and the belligerent that are insulting.

Resources for Planners

Since a major tenet of social media marketing is sharing valuable content, there is a great deal of good guidance available from industry experts. Start with the eye-opening Pershing study: “Advisor Value Propositions: How Advisors Showcase Their Value to Investors—and What Investors Secretly Think.”

Then ask peers and business advisers for more resources to build your brand. Five favorite resources recommended by marketing gurus include:

  1. Social media management: Hootesuite and top 6 alternatives for 2019
  2. DIY beautiful websites: WIX or SquareSpace
  3. Logo and marketing design: 99Designs
  4. Freelance marketplace for hiring pros: fiverr
  5. Self-publishing for e-books and print books: Amazon-owned Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly CreateSpace. Amazon merged KDP and CreateSpace in 2019.)

Feel free to check out the articles and tools at Barbara Kay Coaching. Even better, reach out and I’ll help you connect to the right resource for your interests.

BarbaraKay-headshot

Barbara Kay, LPC, RCC, president of Barbara Kay Coaching, is a business psychology and productivity expert who coaches and speaks nationwide. She specializes in growth, productivity, teams, clients, change, women and leadership. Joining the FPA Coaches Corner in 2019, she now offers free coaching to FPA members.


5 Comments

Niche Marketing and Social Media for Financial Advisers

Forbes conducted a social media usage survey within the financial planning industry in 2017 and found that 85 percent of advisers use social media to grow their business and connect with prospects. Of this percentage, the majority said that using digital media shortened the buying cycle.

Like its counterparts in the digital realm, social media stands as a strong arm of the inbound marketing umbrella. However, much of it is still misunderstood, largely due to the variety of platforms and their general target markets. Depending on your particular niche, you may do much better on Facebook than Twitter, or perhaps even Pinterest or Reddit.

Here is a quick check-up guide to help you determine where you should be on social media, what times you should post based on that platform, and, as a bonus, some tools to help you manage your social media presence.

Before You Pick a Platform

We’re really big on niche marketing at the CWA Network, so much so that our founder John Enright did a full personality test to best determine what profession he should seek clients within—so that’s exactly what I suggest you do for your business over all—know your demographic inside and out. Unless you have a foundation set in your business plan (your ideal client profile, mission statement, etc.) then it doesn’t matter where you post your content if it isn’t geared towards the right people. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many advisers don’t “niche themselves” and cast an incredibly broad net.

Is Facebook for Me?

If your business plan is heavier on the 401k/retirement side of things, Facebook is your goldmine. Aging boomers spend a decent chunk of time on Facebook. The best part of Facebook advertising (should you go the paid route) is that it’s much cheaper than advertising on Google Ads. The amount of targeting options available is incredible. For example, you could set up an advertisement that targets 45 to 65-year-olds who live within 30 miles of your office and have interests that are directly related to retirement.

Best times to post on Facebook: Saturdays and Sundays around 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., times that all have higher engagement according to a study done by CoSchedule.

Is Twitter for Me?

One of the best strategies for advisers on Twitter is simply to curate content. Sure, you could engage with potential clients (and profiles they may follow), but Twitter is a fickle and fast beast. If you don’t have the time of day to actively engage in ongoing conversation, the content curation route may be best for you. Of course, feel free to post your own content but gathering up articles and links of interest to your demographic is a solid strategy.

Best times to post on Twitter: Wednesdays at noon, but this could vary depending on your niche.

Is Pinterest for Me?

If your demographic is over 80 percent women, then you’ll want to spend some time on Pinterest. Creating content that is geared specifically towards personal finance and budgeting will go a long way. Just be careful to utilize a keyword strategy so that your content doesn’t fall into the incredibly broad “penny pinching” and “thrifty” categories.

Best times to post on Pinterest: Pinterest varies wildly from its counterparts because it’s an image-based platform like Instagram. However, there is a consensus that “pinning” is usually done on Saturdays between 8 and 11 p.m., but 2 a.m. and 4 p.m. any day is also considered fine. Avoid work hours.

Is LinkedIn for Me?

If your client profile has a heavy professional element to it (and it most likely will), targeting business pages where they hang out is a good strategy to have. Creating a Company Showcase page for your practice is the first step as a passive and constant place to show your content, but actively seeking out groups related to your demographic is highly recommended.

Best times to post on LinkedIn: Midweek (Tuesday through Thursday) from 5 to 6 p.m.

Is Google+ for Me?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll find your traffic on Google+ because it’s viewed as one of the less active (community-wise) platforms. CoSchedule found that 90 percent of users on Google+ are lurkers and won’t interact with your page. However, from a SEO perspective (see my last Practice Management Blog post), having a Google+ local business page is incredibly important. Firstly, it helps validate that you are, in fact, a real business. But it also will help prospects find you on the map, contact you easily from their mobile devices and give you that very important validation that being on a Google listing brings.

Is YouTube for Me?

We believe that advisers need to first educate their clients and not worry so much about selling to them. Our job is to help them buy. That said, if you fancy yourself in front of the camera and want a more personal face-time approach to finding and interacting with your clients and prospects, then having regular content uploaded to YouTube is a great idea. Bonus; Like Google+, having a YouTube channel helps with SEO.

Best times to upload a new video: This one is up to you, depending on the content you’re sharing. If it’s more educational in tone, uploading on Mondays generally gets better viewership. If you’re trying to get a call to action completed, try for Thursdays. Industry tip: the same rule applies for sending out emails to your list.

Tools You Can Use

Content scheduling tools can help free up your time to do your client work and analytics tools can help you find out if your efforts are worthwhile. Here are a few:

Content scheduling and engagement
Hootsuite
Buffer
Feedtable
Sprout Social
Social Pilot
CoSchedule
Feedly

Analytics

Buzzsumo
Simply Measured
Keyhole
Reputology
Brandwatch
Google Analytics

An Important Note on Compliance

You know there are rules for traditional marketing. Rules also apply to digital marketing ventures. If you need to know more, make sure to review what FINRA and the SEC says, or check in with your compliance officer before any design or piece of content goes to the cutting room floor.

Kristina Rocci

Kristina Rocci is the web content manager for the CWA Network, a Rochester, N.Y.-based financial adviser coaching business that has developed a turnkey practice management business plan for the high net wealth, 401K and Mass Affluent/Gen XY markets. She originally hails from the fin-tech world in Toronto with 7 years of digital marketing under her belt. You can learn all about how the CWA Network can help adviser and planners alike at www.cwanetwork.com.