As the financial services industry has evolved, so have the ways in which benefits advisors communicate with their clients and connect with new business opportunities. But for many advisors today, social media remains a largely untapped area of opportunity for them to explore.
Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are often overlooked and under-utilized by advisors. Below are best practise tips for advisors to leverage their public presence, connect with both new prospects and existing clients, and solidify professional credibility.
A Wealth Management Affluent Investor study found that if an advisor has a business and social relationship with their clients, metrics such as referrals, introductions, perceived service, perceived portfolio performance, and more increase.
Social Media Tips for Advisors
Regardless of which social media platform you use (and why not use all of them?), below are some general best practise tips to keep in mind:
- Tell us about yourself: Fill out your profile in full. Whether that includes your professional work experience, your contact information, or your education, all of this information helps prospects learn more about you. There’s nothing more underwhelming than a blank or sparsely populated advisor profile.
- Picture: Your online presence comes “alive” when people can see your face (as opposed to a grey default profile icon). Make sure to add a professional photo of yourself.
- Slow and steady: You’re a busy person, with a lot on your plate. It’s absolutely fine not to post everyday! However, it is important to post consistently. Once a pattern has been established, continue with it. Set yourself what seems like an attainable goal, and follow through.
- Follow users of interest: This may include industry leaders, founders of businesses, popular HR professionals, corporations – whomever you wish! Resharing, liking, and commenting on their posts can show current clients and potential future ones that you are engaged with the community and are aware of current happenings in the industry.
- Maximize your network: Invite existing clients and those in your network to connect with you on social media. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be intrusive – it can be as easy as simply adding your social media handles and links to your email signature.
- Share: If you find articles and other online pieces that are interesting or thought provoking, share them! Sharing pertinent and insightful content is not only how you acquire new followers, but also how you keep them engaged.
- Make posts unique: Don’t be afraid to put your own personal spin on your posts, or to share your opinion. That’s the whole point of social media – showcasing your personality will help you stand out!
Did you know? Only around 4% of Financial and Insurance Advisors are using LinkedIn to connect with their ideal clients and have a system and strategy to generate leads on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the only primarily business social media platform, and this makes it unique. As a result, LinkedIn actually has the most affluent demographics out of the three main social media platforms. Around half of LinkedIn users have a university degree, and of that half, 44% are executives and decision makers within their companies, including company founders, CEOs, and HR Managers – those who are in charge of benefits insurance decisions.
- LinkedIn Headline: Advisors should make sure that their LinkedIn headline reflects not only their role, but also conveys their value. “John Smith, Benefits Advisor for Benecaid” may effectively communicate your title and employer, but fails to convey any intrinsic value. So what? Why should my target audience care – that’s the question to ask when composing a LinkedIn headline. A better headline would be, for example, “John Smith | Certified Financial Planner helping small businesses succeed.”
- Groups: LinkedIn offers groups based on common interests, causes, educational institutions, professional associations, and more. Seeking out and connecting with potential new clients can become easier when the audience you’re connecting with has a common bond.
In 280 words or less, Twitter provides advisors a perfect platform to give snippets of advice and personal insights on your industry and expertise. Twitter is also the best social media platform for following thought leaders; It keeps you in touch with the issues that industry opinion leaders believe are worth sharing. It allows you to participate in those conversations, and in so doing advances both strategic understanding and tactical intent.
This is a platform built to give quick updates; less in-depth analysis, but more about sharing thoughts, news, and information throughout the day.
- Handle: Your Twitter handle reflects who you are and how people will search for you. A good rule of thumb is to set your handle as your name followed by your company name (e.q. JohnSmithBenecaid).
- Less is more: Minimize your word count. Your audience should be able to read your post in five seconds or less and then move on. For reference, the most common length of a tweet is 33 characters.
- Hashtags: The trick is to use hashtags, but not to overload them lest your message lose its value and readability. Hashtags, in essence, make your post searchable by topic, and they are a great way to group and categorize your tweets. For a guide on how to optimize hashtags, click here. Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.
- Personal vs Business: If you already have a personal Twitter account or are thinking of getting one, it’s best to keep professional and personal accounts separate, and to keep posts at least somewhat on topic. While your child’s soccer game may be a great post for your personal social media, either tie it in with your industry (“A Honeybee #AllowanceAccount can help pay for your children’s #soccer lessons”) or leave it out entirely.
Out of the social media networks, Facebook has by far the largest number of users with approximately 1.2 billion daily users. And due to its sheer popularity, Facebook can be just as powerful as LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Build a business page: There are two types of Facebook pages: personal and business. You may or may not already have a personal Facebook page, but be sure to set up a business page for your professional persona. Per general guideline, take the time to fill out your Facebook profile along with a clean, professional photo.
- Content: Don’t overthink it too much! The same type of content can be posted on Facebook as you’ve posted on LinkedIn, though you may want to tweak your message slightly if you feel you have different types of people following you on these networks.
- SEO: Due to Facebook’s popularity, it ranks well in search engines. Having a professional Facebook page will help you to be found when people look for you on search engines like Google and Bing, and maximizes your online presence. Word of caution, your personal page may also appear in searches. For that reason, you should ensure that your even your personal posts reflect you in a manner which you’d like clients and prospects to see, or set up your privacy settings.
The reality is that you aren’t likely to see booming results overnight from integrating social media into your marketing efforts. However, following the tips above will help you build and expand your professional brand, establish credibility, leverage existing relationships with clients, and even gain new clients over time. Persistence is key!