The power of social media is more important than ever where making a first impression is beyond just wearing a suit and tie or designer dress.
For this reason, financial advisors need to stay current on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
“People are gaining traction by being on Facebook but LinkedIn is preferred for financial advisors,” said Laura Virili, a New York-based social media expert who coaches advisors. “Retirees are the fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn.”
A Spectrem Group survey found that 41 percent of some 1,300 millionaires used LinkedIn compared to 57 percent who use Facebook and 10 percent who turn to Twitter, which is why a rising number of advisors are creating and marketing their own content using digital assets that contribute to the visibility and online reputation of their practice.
“Social media is not going away,” said Virili at a Financial Planning Association of New York conference early this month in Manhattan. “It’s getting bigger and bigger by the day.”
LinkedIn is how advisors can find clients they are looking for.”
Digital assets include blogs, social media forums, video interviews, guest blogging, newsletters and webcasts.
“The purpose of content marketing is to attract and educate people without selling,” said Marguerita M. Cheng, a dually registered certified financial planner with Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Potomac and Bethesda, Maryland. “You want to communicate with clients in a way that makes sense and that showcases your expertise by sharing content.”
Below are 10 ways financial advisors can stay relevant online and prospect for new clients:
- Create a website that’s also smart phone compatible and link it to LinkedIn. By 2018, more than 2.56 billion people will be using smart phones, according to eMarketer. “What’s more relevant and opportune is to have a responsive website design that adapts to different screens,” said Sameer Somal, certified financial planner and chief financial officer with Blue Ocean Global Technology in Rockville, Md.
- Publish a blog or article on LinkedIn once or twice a week and once on Saturday.
“I use LinkedIn and Twitter to post content that’s often divorce-related,” said Michelle Smith, a financial advisor who specializes in divorce financial planning in New York. “I do it for the exposure and thought leadership.”
- Post financial related content during the week to be perceived as a thought leader and modern progressive financial advisor. Save lifestyle content for the weekend.
“The best time to post is when people are eating and drinking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 7:30a.m. and 8:30a.m., at noon and after 5pm,” said Virili. “On Saturday, you want to post between 10a.m. and Noon and the sweet spot is Tuesday between 10a.m. and 11a.m.”
- Source names for introductions. Before meeting with a client, review their LinkedIn connections, pick three to five prospects and finagle a referral by asking for an opinion.
“If I come across someone you know, would you mind if I run them by you for your opinion,” Virili said on how to secure a recommendation from an existing client. “You have to be linked to the person to see their connections then use keyword search to find directors, vice presidents and executive vice presidents because the higher the title, the more assets they have.”
- Groups are important. “Join groups for branding and searchability,” said Virili. “The Financial Planning Association, for example, and groups for any interests that you have like fishing or cycling.”
- Celebrate client’s significant life events. “Every morning for five minutes, post congratulatory messages to prospects who have birthdays, work anniversaries and new jobs that day because then it becomes routine,” Virili said. “If it’s a client, I’ll pick up the phone. This kind of daily social media activity helps advisors humanize and differentiate themselves.”
- Establish a technology plan. Include a targeted market, analysis of current needs, an evaluation of digital assets currently in circulation and online reputation management. “The way we communicate with friends, family and clients has undergone a revolution,” Somal told Advisor News. “We have to be more thoughtful to provide value to our clients.”
- Post a great photo. “Go business casual on LinkedIn and full suit and tie on your website,” Virili said. “Your photo needs to be warm and friendly so that you appear approachable.”
- Hide skills, endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. “FINRA and the SEC considers these advertising and punishable,” said Virili.
- Hire help to write and post blog content. Financial advisor Sallie Mullins Thompson pays $680 per quarter to Phone Blogger. “They help me write articles and place them on social media sites that link back to my website,” Thompson told Advisor News. Other sources of editorial help include Media Bistro, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Ghostwriters and the New York Financial Writer’s Association.
Juliette Fairley is a business and finance journalist who has written four personal finance books for John Wiley & Sons and has written for major news organizations, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and the New York Financial Writers Association and a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Juliette can be reached at email@example.com.
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