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When you’re immersed in social media, gaining new clients and enquiries daily. When your business is social and those you interact with are social too, it’s easy to forget how potentially scarey and questionable the use of social media is in business for those who haven’t yet adopted it.
As I regularly meet with IFA’s and financial firms who are looking to adopt social media, it seemed appropriate to gather the most frequently asked questions and share them (along with my replies of course).
Isn’t it for celebrities?
It’s true that celebrities use social networks, but 1 in every 7 people on the planet has a facebook account, that’s 1 in every 7 people on the ENTIRE planet! 11 new twitter accounts are being opened every second. LinkedIn has more than 175 million users.
You know that there just aren’t THAT many celebrities out there – so who else is using these networks? It’s CEO’s, business owners, managers, marketeers, grandparents, mums, product providers, brands, lawyers, teachers and more.
Isn’t it for kids?
The growth and usage of Social Networks is a global phenomenon. Here in the UK 60% of adults are Social Networking Addicts.
* Umpf survey polled 2,387 UK adults in July 2011
Isn’t it against financial promotion rules?
First of all, social networking and social media are not advertising channels. If you try and push your product or directly sell on these networks, then you’ll very quickly find that no one is looking for that. People are looking for the social side of interaction.
They want to get to know more about you and they want to be engaged with. You already know as an adviser that if you don’t ask your prospects any questions, if you don’t engage with them, give them a chance to have a 2 way conversation with you, then they’re never going to move from a prospect to a client.
Just because you are having the conversation through a social network rather than face to face does not change how people like to be valued and engaged.
So naturally many of the financial promotion rules won’t be relevant. You’re not using social media to give advice, but you can use it to share your insight, to build relationships and to demonstrate that you are an Authority in your field.
However, where the rules DO apply then there are solutions to adhering to them, including a working social media policy, keeping records, preapproved content in certain situations and of course education and training.
Does it take up a lot of time?
Honestly? Yes, social media does take time. I asked those financial advisers who have been using social media for some time now how they found the time to fit social media into their already busy lives. The answer was always, you just do. When you realise that something is important you find time.
Of course with mobile devices and tablets it’s easier to pop onto the social networks and engage in your ‘dead time’. In between meetings, when you’re travelling (but not when you’re the driver!), when you take a coffee break.
Social media isn’t just about conversing on the social networks, blogging is an essential part of any social media strategy. A blog is somewhere that you put up educational, inspiring and amusing content that your audience will want to read and share. Your blog shows you as the authority in your field.
Will we attract the right kind of people as followers?
Attracting the right kind of people is a combination of 2 things. One is the strategy that you implement to identify and engage with ‘the right kind of people’. The other is down to you and your personality. Like minded people attract like minded people, just as in the ‘real world’, the same principles apply online.
If you want to attract solicitors, then you don’t go to the play park, you go to where solicitors are. You find someone who is influential in solicitors circle, you engage with them and they will introduce you to their network. The same things that you do in person, you can do online. Only I believe it’s easier, quicker and further reaching online.
Do I need to be good on computers?
Thankfully no, if that were the case I’d be screwed. If you follow me you’ll regularly see me frustrated at the Tech Gods (they have it in for me I’m sure). One of the reasons that social media has grown so quickly is that it is easy to use.
Do I need to spend a lot of time doing it?
As I mentioned earlier, social media takes an investment of time. If you don’t have the time to do it all yourself, then you can outsource some of it. In the ideal world everything you published on line was written by your own fair hands. But the reality is, you’re an adviser, not a writer or a publisher, you’re not sat there with spare time on your hands. So for many it makes sense to have a combination of some social media activities outsourced to compliment what you do yourself.
It’s just a passing fad isn’t it?
That can be nothing more than wishful thinking I’m afraid. Social media has fundamentally changed the way that people interact full stop. It’s part of everyday life for the general public.
When I can order my groceries, clothes, phone online, or book my travel, meetings, and leisure online. When I can connect with business opportunities and friends with a few taps on my phone. When I can do a quick google search and recommendations for a product or service I’m interested in come up (like my canoe safari down the Zambezi). When I want to check on my spelling, or what a word means, what the latest news is, what’s happening within my industry. When all I have to do is put in a search online and I get the answers, (whether I choose to use Google, facebook, twitter or any other site makes no difference) then answer me please.
When I can do all of that why would I not look to learn about anything to do with my finances online? I’m not going to care there are regulations that make it difficult to engage on line. I’m going to use the same method to find out about finance as I do every thing else in my life, I’m going to on line first.
How many times do you google search every day? How many of those answers that you find are from blog posts? How many times do you ask a colleague or someone else for advice or answers to a problem? Or better yet how many times do you wish you could find the answer faster?
Well that’s what social media is all about. It’s not just about what a celebrity did last night, or what Uncle Fred ate for lunch. It’s about discovering the answer to a question faster, it’s about getting other peoples opinions on the new iPhone before choosing to get that or the Samsung galaxy. It’s about connecting online to make your life easier, find out new information, get other peoples opinions and make connections and new friends. And no, it’s not a fad.
Do I have to be all corporate sounding?
Be yourself, let your personality and skill set shine through, be honest about what you like and what you don’t like. It’ll mean that not everyone is going to like you or agree with you (see it’s just like the real world) but it means those that you connect with will have a much stronger relationship and liking, that they’ll be much more likely to recommend you and help you expand your network and influence.
What can I talk about?
When it comes to your blog, then write about what you know. Show yourself as the authority in your field. Remember that people like stories and weave personal anecdotes into your posts so that people get a feel for you character as well as your expertise.
When it comes to engaging in conversations then do what you do in real life, listen first then engage with conversations that interest you, that way you’re more likely to be interesting!
Do you see social media participation resulting in sales in the Financial services world?
Absolutely. Structured in the right way, demonstrating your authority in the industry, building relationships with your audience, engaging in conversations, building your list and having appropriate call to actions will result in prospects that become clients. Mixing your offline marketing with your social media efforts and email marketing will greatly improve your results.
Much of the most valuable connections you make from social media come from the people with whom you have the weakest ties. As you create more ongoing conversation outside your closest social circles, you gather more meaningful connections and they become part of your established networks.
Social media users who receive great service tell an average of 42 people (compared to just 9 for social absentees)
If you were to use one form of social media which would it be?
I wouldn’t just use one form as the corner stone of any social media campaign is your blog (1), but without anyone reading it, what use is it? So share your posts across your networks (2). If I was forced at gun point to say one network it would be a close call between LinkedIn and Twitter at this time.
3) Are you better off doing your own tweets or getting a company to do automated tweets?
Honestly? The majority of people on twitter are the ‘real’ person behind the profile. However, I see no harm with outsourcing some of your tweets to a.n.other (that could be internally or externally).
You can schedule certain tweets in advance, especially if you’ve got your social media plan integrated with your other marketing strategies. Do you need to be the one who writes and publishes these tweets? Probably not. Effective use of twitter though is engaging in conversation both ways, listening is an essential part.
If you’re using twitter wisely then why wouldn’t you want to connect personally with those on twitter. By wisely I’m suggesting that you’re following the right people for you and your business – ie press, influencers in your clients world, target demographic etc.
Do you see it as an important part of someone’s business?
Yes. To me it’s like asking someone do they think a website or email is an important part of their business? It might be an obvious YES now. But rewind a few years and that wasn’t the case. The only difference now is that with the advances in technology, including smartphones and tablets, this shift to becoming a ‘social’ business is happening twice as fast.
Will social media see the demise of the traditional form of advertising?
Traditionally advertising was a one way broadcast from the seller. With social media, we now all have the opportunity to have a 2 way dialogue with brands and companies. We can:
Social media isn’t about advertising in the traditional sense, it’s much more focused on building a community and brand advocates who feel heard and involved with what your business offers. Educating and entertaining your audience along the way.
What are the benefits of taking time out of your day to participate in the world of social media?
Instead of answering this with my words, here’s what other IFA’s say about the benefits of using social media for them:
Is it going to get me business?
It’s already getting business for firms, it depends on your strategy and your implementation. But ultimately yes.
Would you rank any of the following in any order of importance to a business; Website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc
Your website (including your blog) should be the ‘retail’ space on the internet that you own. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc are all places where you ‘rent’ space and could be evicted at anytime. You want to make sure your business isn’t wholly reliant on one source.
Your site is where you demonstrate your authority and allow visitors to say “Yes I’d like you to keep in touch with me”. Your networks help to drive interested visitors to your site.
Is it a case of just doing it because everyone else is doing it?
If you mean:
“is it a case of just doing it because everyone (including my ideal clients and future clients) is using social media to communicate, find out about good products and services, get social proof that a company is trustworthy, get to know each other, make friends and recommendations and referrals for all sorts of things?”
Then I’ll let you decide, I’m confident that you’re great at making good decisions.
How do you see social media moving forward?
Social will be used more and more as a tool in our personal and business life, to communicate internally within organisations and to communicate externally.
iPads weren’t around 2-3 years ago, and look at how widely adopted they’ve been. Technology is moving fast, the ability to be able to communicate freely with others is only going to get easier, faster and more popular.
If you’d like to find out how social media can help your company I’d be happy to talk it through with you drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out our University – just click on University.