Coeur d'Alene Resort, Idaho: “I really enjoyed what you had to say on social media marketing,” began Ashley in an uneasy tone as I exited the ballroom. She continued, “But I don’t understand how I should be using social media when the markets are this volatile. For me, it’s not the highest priority right now. Do clients really care if I tweet about the markets?”
Ashley is a veteran advisor who has been invited to her company recognition trip with thirty of her fellow top performers. To the others who heard her question, she made a valid point. But they are missing the big picture. Social Media isn’t just a “hip” way to reach clients or prospects; it’s a tool that can be used in the midst of shaky markets for broadening your reach by positioning yourself as a calming presence. It’s also a strong direct client communication and “2nd degree connection” prospecting tool.
Market chaos, which is what we have in spades, increases affluent investors’ recognition of the importance of working with a real financial advisor – an advisor who is visible and proactive. The following are five social media tactics forcommunicating your calm presence, bolstering your brand and simultaneously finding new prospects in tough times. As always, before you post any social media content, make sure you are working within the compliance regulations of your firm.
1. 2nd Degree Connections & 2nd Opinions
Advisors who use social networks to their fullest potential make a concerted effort to be professionally visible by connecting with their top clients, prospects, and centers of influence (COIs) through social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. The brilliance of these networks is they are like an open Rolodex, giving you insights into each client’s connections. By taking a look at your top clients’ and COIs’ connections (deemed 2nd degree connections by Linkedin), advisors can identify introduction/ 2nd opinion opportunities. During reassuring conversations with clients, it’s natural for an advisor to reference a connection (prospect) identified through LinkedIn and ask for a personal introduction because of all the volatility ask whether or not they could use a risk audit (2nd opinion). All of which comes across as a supportive gesture during these market conditions. Proper execution takes practice and the right sales skills, but this process of hand-selecting prospects can be fruitful especially during market declines.
2. Monitoring Turnover
One of LinkedIn’s newest features allows users to keep track of key developments at specific companies. Think of the implications of being firmly on the pulse of new hires, promotions, and departures of the companies in your area – especially during tough times. This is a marketing tool unlike any other and most financial advisors aren’t tapping into it. You can also take advantage of a free service such as JobChangeNotifier.com, which will send you email updates once a first degree connection changes positions. Once you identify a prospect you now have two financial impact points: shaky markets and 401(k) rollovers.
3. Looking for Mentions
Social media is about conversations, and, if you are not having these conversations, you can easily miss out on the opportunities of today. Scour your social networks and look for conversations you can insert your expertise and offer “second opinions” or risk audits offline in private. For example, if you notice one of your Facebook connections posting comments regarding investment performance, you can send him a message with helpful content or invite him to one of your market update events. Your objective is to position yourself as a solutions provider. You can also run a search for “questions” on LinkedIn and look for market-related questions where you can step into the conversation and offer up your expertise.
Use Google to run a search within your social networks. Sign into your Gmail account, search for a term (i.e. markets, decline, etc.) and click on “more” search tools off to the left-hand side of the screen. When more options appear, just select “social” and your results will be filtered to include only those conversations found within your social circle.
4. Content Rich Updates
The idea is to make your connections feel educated, equipped, and informed. By leveraging social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, you can reach your audience and they can “share” your content. This can be anything from a good article on CNNMoney.com to compliance-approved material, but keep the content relevant to the market environment. If possible, personalize the message to give your thoughts and convey a sense of confidence and poise in chaotic times. If people see value in your posts, they will share it with their connections, who will share it with their connections.
5. Promote a Webinar, Use Skype or Google+ Huddle
Ideally, communicating with clients regarding the crisis is done face-to-face, one client at a time. For most advisors, this isn’t a reality – there simply isn’t enough time to reach everyone quickly. Using technology to communicate with multiple people at once will improve efficiency and allow you to get your message out quickly. Holding a webinar or video conference may be the next best thing to face-to-face meetings. Skype or Google+’s new huddle feature are great ways to bridge the proximity gap and connect with clients through video chat. The bottom-line is you can update all of your clients on a regular basis and still manage your time.
Bonus: Outside of the Box Idea
Vlogging (video-blogging) is becoming more popular with every self-proclaimed director. Video sites like YouTube and Vimeo can be great marketing tools for you to distribute your videos to a mass audience. YouTube attracts over two billion views a day, so it makes sense to leverage this medium to get your message out. Posting videos on the current crisis, educating clients on volatility, and defining your game plan will not only help clients feel at ease, it will convey a sense of leadership. But remember, keep these videos short (3 to 5 minutes total), especially if you want to have any chance of them going viral. We recognize that this is out of the box and may not pass muster with most compliance departments, however, it’s worth mentioning.