When it comes to marketing, the questions that keep me up at night revolve around strategies, innovation, and trends that just might become the new best practices and are here to stay.
But the questions I hear most often from the financial advisors who want marketing help?
Judging by the volume of questions I receive on this, social media is the topic that tends to cause the most confusion or uncertainty for advisors who want to grow their firms through inbound digital marketing.
(Sidebar: This is an excellent lesson in marketing fundamentals. Just because I’m personally interested in one area of marketing does not mean the people I serve care about, think about, or want to know about that — at least not right away!
You have to listen to your audience and deliver on their wants and needs — not sit around and tell them what they should want and need.)
The bad news is that most financial advisors feel lost when it comes to social media.
And I understand. To find success with social, you need to:
- Understand what to post, when to post it, and where to post.
- Maintain a deep knowledge of the social media networks where you have accounts and profiles.
- Know how to engage with other users online, which can span from fellow advisors to potential clients to influencers, industry insiders, and reporters.
- Intuit how to deal with total strangers through a screen without any other social context or cue to help you understand who they are, where they come from, and what they need from you.
All this is tough to pull off, and it only scratches the surface of social. These highlight the boxes you need to check to do it well.
But to really succeed and build a massive following? You’re gonna need a whole lot of other skills, tricks, and abilities up your sleeve to pull out and deploy when appropriate.
My Absolute Tippy Top Tip for Social Media Success: Be Social
It’s not like you need me to reinforce how complicated social media can feel. But I have good news: It really doesn’t have to be this mysterious, inscrutable puzzle that resists solving.
The best advice — and number-one quick tip — I can give you for social media success as a financial advisor is to be social.
That’s so important it bears repeating with some bold formatting: BE SOCIAL!
That’s it. Seriously. That’s what you need to do to master social media.
Which is not that complicated after all, and you already doing just that in real life. Don’t treat social media like it’s some strange, complex beast.
Ultimately, it’s communication. It’s human-to-human conversation like you’ve always had — only it takes place in a new format.
The setting might look different. But the actions we take within that scene, and the best practices and common-sense guidelines we use for success in situations like face-to-face, verbal communication, are the same.
If we can bear that in mind, social media becomes much less intimidating and hopefully a little less foreign.
Here are my other quick tips I want to give to you so you can stop feeling so uncertain about social media, and start jumping in and making progress toward mastery of this specific type of inbound, content marketing.
Understand Why You Want to Use Social Media
It’s going to be tough to figure out what you should do on social media if you don’t understand why you’re there in the first place.
Without a purpose or an intention, it’s easy to get lost, put out content that doesn’t get engagement, and feel discouraged (or like social media is a total waste of time).
Getting clear on what you hope to get out of social media is a critical first step. Think about the following to help you hone in on your social why:
- Goals: What do you hope to achieve by being on social media? Remember, make your goals tangible and specific. You need to know when you actually succeeded, so saying that you want to “get clients” from social media is not a precise-enough goal. Noodle on this and hone in on detailed intentions — and yes, you can have more than one goal! By the way: Try to focus not just on vanity metrics (like, “I want 10,000 followers!”) but on quality, engagement metrics (such as, “I want to get 10 clicks back to my services page when I post this video”).
- Messaging: Who do you want to be on social media? What does your voice sound like? Are you representing yourself or your brand — or a little bit of both? Knowing the message you want to share will help you shape content around that. If it doesn’t fit the messaging (or the vibe) that you want to convey, don’t share it.
- Value: What can you offer to others? Social media networks can serve as platforms to amplify what you have to offer. What can you bring to the table? How can you add value to the people who may interact with you on these networks?
Know Who You Want to Reach
A lot of advisors get tripped up and stuck wondering what social media outlet they need to be on.
This isn’t the right question to ask. Remember, consider why you want to be on social media, and then consider what goals you want to achieve.
The reasons you want to be on social media in the first place will help you understand where you should be and what you need to share.
Even more important than your why? Your audience.
Who your audience is will answer your question about where you need to be on social media.
If you want to help teens and 20-somethings with financial literacy, get on Snapchat and Instagram and don’t worry about Facebook.
If you work with pre-retirees and retirees, you probably don’t need to worry so much about newer, super trendy social platforms that you know your teens are on, but you absolutely need to be on Facebook.
If you work with a lot of women, check out Pinterest. If you work with people in their 30s and 40s, both Facebook and Instagram will be good places to try.
Consider your audience and do your best to deeply understand them. Obsess about your audience and what they need and want from you. Then go where they like to be on social networks so you can deliver whatever those needs and wants are.
The more deeply you understand what your audience wants, the easier it is to do anything with marketing, whether it’s on social media or not.
Put on your audience’s shoes, experience what it’s like to walk in them, then write content that addresses their needs, desires, curiosities, questions, and more.
Stay Consistent and Keep Showing Up
Any kind of content marketing takes time. You will not see results overnight, unless you hit the inbound marketing lottery and go viral within your first few posts.
Even then, going viral isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s the online version of your 15 minutes of fame — it happens, it’s insane, and then it’s all over and everyone goes back to not knowing you exist.
(I talked about this on FPA Activate’s You’re a Financial Planner, Now What? podcast if you want to listen in on what to expect, including timelines, when you start content marketing as an advisor.)
That is, unless, you were already rolling out a steady drumbeat of content and knew how to capture some of that traffic that flowed your way. In that case, you probably didn’t just start, but had been following tip #3 for a while:
Stay consistent. Keep showing up.
Content marketing is hustling. Inbound marketing requires you to pound the pavement. It’s often a numbers game. You gotta send thousands of tweets before things start rolling and the followers start pouring in.
Which means if you only send a hundred tweets before you throw up your hands and declare social media isn’t working, you never gave the benefits of your efforts a chance to kick in for you.
Here’s what it means to show up and stay consistent on social:
- If you’re on Facebook, post once a day. Same goes for LinkedIn.
- On Twitter? Post as much as you can.
- For Instagram, share once a day — but hop on Insta Stories 1-2 times per day to give us live looks and behind the scenes peeks into life as a financial planner and business owner.
- Use tools to help you manage all this. I love Hootsuite, but Buffer’s easier to get started with (and Later.com is a great app to help you better manage Instagram posts).
Be Efficient with the Right Tools, But Do Things That Don’t Scale Too
Here’s what I mean by this tip:
Schedule as much content as you can. It’s so much more efficient and scaleable to sit down once a week and schedule out all your social media content (again, using Hootsuite, Buffer, or another scheduler) than to randomly post when you remember.
But if you’re just getting started, set aside 15 to 30 minutes every day to log into your platforms and authentically engage with people, too.
Nope, not as scaleable. Definitely more time-consuming. But critical to growing your audience and gaining more influence and reach for your content.
Respond to comments. Reach out to others. Leave replies and likes on other people’s content. Follow other people and share their work.
You can’t just produce without also consuming if you want to be successful on social media as a financial advisor. Create a balance and give as much as you get.