Did you know 56% of advisors do not use social media?*
The first rule of using any type of technology is, don’t panic. It may seem overwhelming, but if broken down into manageable steps, tackling a new system, project or problem can be easy to do for anyone. The largest hurdle for many within the financial service industry is compliance. How do you avoid violating internal compliance regulations as well as those set forth by the governing bodies (FINRA, SEC) when it comes to social media? The good new is, it is not as painful as it initially appears. Find out why.
When it comes to compliance within the financial services industry, some basic common sense and collaboration with your internal compliance department can make engaging with others on social media a relatively simple process.
Here are 6 quick steps to incorporate social media technology into your financial services business:
- Choose – There is a plethora of ways to connect with others. From Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (the largest social platforms) to Foursquare (a location based social platform) and others in between. Having all of these choices is a great opportunity for you to pick the one that will work best for you. Choose one option to get started and build from there.
- Plan – Once you have selected your platform, learn how to use it or refresh your knowledge. There are numerous online resources that can help you with that. Ask your friends, use your business contacts, and you will likely find more than one person who is willing to help and offer advice. Most importantly take the initiative to teach yourself. You learn by doing!
- Develop – Now that you have gained some new knowledge on how these technologies work, you are ready to tackle the look and feel – the design. Personalize your presence in the “about” section on your blog site or the hours of operation on your Facebook business page. Add the hot links to your website. The key is a 100% cohesive look. People remember things that are both useful and visually appealing. If you can stand out with a sleek, well-planned presence either as an individual or business, you WILL catch the attention of others. This includes a picture or logo and the proper color scheme to fit with your brand.
- Execute – Your job is ever evolving and social media is one of the best examples of the speed at which things can change. Now that you have the basics set in place, you need to DO something with all that you created. This is where you show your value. Content is key! Without a good message that connects with your target audience, you will not grow. Keep in mind, you must adhere to compliance guidelines for what you may or may not say or share. Make things interesting, useful, concise and fun but definitely follow the rules.
As you come up with content ideas, remember to be you. Let your passion shine through and people will be drawn to you. Show your personality and people will want to interact with you. Social media is a great way to add some personality to your financial services business.
Here are some content guidelines for those within the financial services industry:
– Share: Be sure to share events, articles, videos, and anything else you think is useful, relevant and true information. If you have NOT read it, watched it or heard about it, DO NOT share it. You should be able to justify WHY you feel the information should be shared. DO NOT share information such as share stock tips or personal feelings on particular investments. Instead, share facts. For example, “The contribution limit for those under 50 years of age in 2013 for IRAs is $5,500. Make saving easy by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account to your investment account.”
– Interact: Although it is important to have good interaction on your social platform of choice and not simply a constant stream of posts or tweets, you also need to be cautious of WHAT you are discussing on social media. For example, if a follower on Twitter were to ask a specific investment question via direct message or even via a tweet, you should NOT answer them with advice. Simply state you appreciate their interest and would be happy to discuss via phone or set up an in-person meeting and provide contact information for your office.
– Disclose: Although disclosures can be lengthy and mind-numbing, some basic ones should appear in your bio, somewhere on your blog, or even at the end of an article. Your compliance department will be able to tell you what you must disclose and where based on the social platform you choose.
- Maintain – Be sure to have a steady stream of information, updates and interactive content ready. This is not always easy and in the real world, not always possible. The point, make it a goal. Aim to connect with the audience 3-5 times a day. Sometimes that is what it takes for people to begin to take notice and become engaged. Remember, the cohesive message and timeline is important! Also don’t forget that not everything you share has to be informative and 100% business related. For example, I will share photos of social client events during an event many times. If I do share photos of someone, I ask for permission and do keep “Permission To Release” forms around so event photos can be reused in the future.
- React – With all the extra effort, what are your results? Do you need to tweak your plan? This is a highly debated topic and for many with a contrarian view, a hot button. There are methods to track (usually through site analytics) how effective your strategy is. If the social platform does not offer decent analytics, you can try Google Analytics to track visits to your website or the old-fashioned approach of asking “How did you learn about us?” when customers contact you. In time, those who embrace technology, and more specifically social media, will do your advertising for you. They will work for you as a walking advertisement with their positive feedback to you and word of mouth to others.
Don’t be part of the 56% of advisors that DO NOT use social media.
*Source: Curian Capital survey of 2,088 independent financial advisors January 2013.