The key to successfully using social media to drive your business? Be yourself!
Being authentic online is the most important way to develop relationships and build trust, said Katie Yun, director of social media with Nationwide. Yun presented a webinar for the National Association for Fixed Annuities on using social media to create business opportunities.
“Being authentic to yourself and your personal brand is critical to your success on social media,” Yun said. “Don’t think about being what your clients want to see — just be you.”
Your digital identity should be the same as your in-person identity, she said. “Authenticity is the key. Who you are in person should be the same person you are in your social profile. Don’t try to emulate being an influencer. Be you — that will take you a lot further.”
But before doing anything on any social networks, Yun advised, check with your firm’s social media policy and make sure you stay in compliance.
At its core, social selling is the art of leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships and ultimately achieve sales goals, Yun said.
Social media has become a major way for advisors to gain new clients and for prospects to learn more about an advisor before they decide to contact them. She provided some statistics:
» 92% of advisors who use social media for business say it has helped them gain new clients.
» Prospects are seven times less likely to call an advisor if that advisor does not have a complete social media profile.
» 87% of prospects research advisors on social media before agreeing to a first call or meeting.
» Advisors have an average asset gain of $1.4 million in one year because of social media.
With social media tools available to advisors, “no one should be cold-calling anymore,” Yun said.
“Selling techniques have changed, and so has the selling environment,” she said. LinkedIn is one social media platform that allows you to find decision-makers and provides you with their information, Yun said.
“The key is to use social media such as LinkedIn for research,” she said. “Maybe that person went to the same college you attended. Alumni networks on LinkedIn are huge. Maybe that person lives in a city where you’ve been. Find that piece of commonality you can use to your advantage and establish trust.”
The social selling opportunity
Nearly three-quarters of advisors (78%) who use social media outsell their peers who don’t, Yun said. But the same percentage of sales professionals also said they don’t believe they are proficient in social selling. “So there’s a gap,” she said.
LinkedIn created a social selling index that provides a gauge of what someone’s LinkedIn profile looks like and assigns a score based on your profile and your engagement on the site. The score includes four components:
» How well you establish your professional brand. Is your profile (including your photo) up to date? Have you listed your complete employment/professional history? Have you listed your educational background?
» Finding the right people. It’s about networking and building relationships. Are you connecting with decision-makers from different types of companies?
» Engage with insights. How active are you on the platform? Are you posting information?
» Build relationships. Are you liking, commenting on and sharing others’ posts?
“Show people you are paying attention to what they are sharing,” Yun advised. “Provide relevant, value-add content that will help others in their business and with their day.”
What’s your strategy?
Yun outlined a 10-step strategy for using social media:
1. Define your audience. Think about your target market. Who you want to reach will play a big part in determining what social media platform you will use. Millennials are more likely to use Instagram or TikTok. Generation X is more likely to use Facebook or LinkedIn.
2. Determine your personal brand. Identify the voice, esthetics and overall feel you want people to get from your social media presence. Do you want to be more humorous or more serious?
3. Select the appropriate social platform to start; don’t try to master all of them right away. Pick a platform that makes the most sense to you. Decide how often you want to post; once or twice a week is good to start.
4. Be compliant. You know what you are and aren’t allowed to do.
5. Build your network. Think about how you want to do this and what platform you want to use to build that network. Invite friends and family to like and join. Send connection requests to current clients.
6. Listen. Pay attention to what people are talking about. Listen to the conversations happening on social media, and use that information to your advantage.
7. Engage. Be active on the platform. Like, comment and share. Be a source of validation.
8. Be authentic. Being authentic to yourself and your personal brand is critical to success.
9. Prospect. Use social media tools to prospect. Use the information found on social media to your advantage.
10. Don’t pitch. Use social media as a relationship-building platform. Don’t go in heavy with a sales pitch right away.
Algorithm ‘need to knows’
Much of the content we see on social media is controlled by algorithms, or what Yun called “the behind-the-scenes part of social media.” She gave the following pointers on how to use algorithms to your advantage:
» All social networks are prioritizing friends and family over business posts.
» Algorithms prioritize posts that receive quick likes and comments.
» Recycling old content will be suppressed. If you post content on multiple platforms, make sure you tailor that content to each platform instead of copying and pasting it from one platform to another.
» Experiment with hashtags.
» Native video content is dominating all platforms. When you upload the video from your own computer or phone, that content will get the most reach or visibility on any social media platform.