Leveraged properly, social media can be a tool for advisors to expand their businesses, says Kat Macaulay, a social media & digital marketing consultant based in Calgary.
In an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal, Macaulay said social media can be a way for advisors to connect with and reach out to clients, who may not at first feel comfortable discussing something as personal as their finances.
“For an advisor, using social media helps you humanize your brand, and be relatable to people in terms that they understand,” she explains.
For advisors who are transitioning to social media, Macaulay advises that they first think about what their goals are in using social media for their business. “Put everything aside in terms of what sites to be on, whether it’s LinkedIn, or Facebook,” she says. “Think about what your overall objective is. Are you on there because you want to create some brand awareness? Because you really want to help people? Do you want to become a go-to resource?”
Visible, valuable, and vertical
Macaulay suggested a strategy for getting started on social media. “The catchphrase I would use is, ‘be visible, valuable, and vertical,” she says. “Visible is getting in front of people. Valuable is giving them the information that they want. Vertical refers to using mediums that make sense for the people you’re communicating with - like mobile.”
Once the objectives described in the catchphrase are met, that is the time to start thinking about which platforms to use. “It’s really looking at who your people are, what they want from you, and how you can deliver it, and then you get into the where, so whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Snapchat.”
Protect client’s privacy
Macaulay explains that a common mistake made on social media, for those in regulated industries, is not having a clear understanding of regulation when it comes to communications. “Most industries have outlined the terms of client communications,” she points out. “So if a client tweets and asks you a question, or comments on a post that you’ve put on LinkedIn, and then asks a specific question about what they’re doing, and you respond; typically, that would be a violation of the client’s confidentiality.” She suggests that if you are approached on a personal topic, to move the discussion offline.
Connect with millennials
Social media can also be a way for advisors to better connect with millennials, who are more comfortable online. “When you think about your ideal client, you have to think about where they are,” she explains. “If your client is within that age group, and you know that’s where they’re most comfortable, that’s where you should be.”
For advisors who aren’t as comfortable transitioning to social media, Macaulay suggests working on how social media can be integrated within their existing communications and marketing strategy. “Nothing has fundamentally changed. We know that people do business with us because they like and trust us. That’s never going to change. Social media is just a way to better reach your ideal client.”
While there may be pressure to be a media provider when using social media, Macaulay says it is better to focus on reaching your ideal client rather than just providing information. “Look at your objectives. Decide what you want to do. How much time do you have? What are the resources you have?” she says. “If you only have a limited amount of resources, but you know your people are on LinkedIn, for example, then that’s where you should spend your time. You shouldn’t spread yourself over 20 different social sites just because an expert somewhere said you need to be everywhere. You should really zero in on where you could make a meaningful contribution.”
Focus on what matters
For advisors who are already succeeding well on social media, Macaulay said the next step is to focus on what matters. “I will talk to professionals who are on social media who are really excited because they’re reaching more people, getting calls, emails, and it’s based on posts they’ve shared,” she says. “The next step is really to start analyzing that. What does that actually mean to you? How does that support your overall business objective? That’s the next step. Zero in on where you’re getting traction, and get your content around that.”