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Three ways to use social media in turbulent markets

Rocky markets are the perfect time to use LinkedIn to ask for introductions

Monday, August 15, 2011 – 8:28 PM by Kevin Nichols, Guest Columnist
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Kevin Nichols: Social media can used to reassure jittery clients while prospecting for new ones.

Brooke’s Note: When markets melted down in 2008, it may have traumatized investors into overreacting when it happened this time around. But it also may have instilled a sense of how big an opportunity is represented by turmoil. Here is another column written in that spirit.

“The markets are topsy-turvy and I’m getting a lot of calls from concerned clients,” said Mike, an RIA in Flint, Mich., as we wrapped up our social media workshop last week. He continued, “How do you recommend using social media in the midst of all this chaos? Is it doable? What have you seen advisors doing?”

The past few weeks have been anything but typical in regard to market fluctuations and Mike’s No. 1 priority has switched from growing his business to sustaining it. He is feeling the pressure from his clients who want answers and need reassurance during these unsettling times. Mike is looking for help, and trying to understand how social media fits in.

Social media can be an excellent tool to help him reach out to clients and deliver a reassuring message. When it comes to communication, Mike’s primary channel is always face-to-face contact or phone conversations – as it should be. However, social media can be a great secondary tool to project a calming presence to existing clients while at the same time prospecting for new prospects. See: RIAs need to step it up in this market turmoil – or pay the consequences.

The following are three strategic ways in which advisors are leveraging social media in a tough market environment. As always, before you post any social media content, make sure you are working within the compliance regulations of your firm. See: Why compliance experts are apt to dislike Facebook.

1. Keep your clients updated

Posting useful updates and helpful content in regard to the markets on websites like LinkedIn, Facebook , Twitter and Google+ will make your connections feel more educated while simultaneously letting them know that you are being proactive. The other benefit of posting helpful content, such as articles from trusted online news sources or compliance-approved materials, is that your connections can “share” them with their colleagues. During volatile markets, try and post something pertinent and helpful at least once a day. This will help you build better, stronger relationships with connections and at the same time improve your brand-visibility and status. Remember, you want to portray yourself as the voice of assurance and confidence.

2. Offer 'risk-audits’ to the right prospects

The greatest benefit online social networks affords is the ability to understand who your clients associate with. LinkedIn, in particular, does a good job of helping you understating the relationship between people you currently know and people you want to know. This open Rolodex is a perfect opportunity to ask for introductions – and when the markets are rocky, it increases legitimacy of your introduction request. During conversations with clients, it’s natural for an advisor to reference a connection (prospect) identified through a social network and ask for a personal introduction. Select prospects who fit your niche. This takes finesse but can prove fruitful. Once the conversation has begun around the identified prospect you might say to the client… “Does she have an advisor guiding her through this market turmoil? We’ve been conducting a lot of risk-audits for friends and family lately. Is she someone I should be talking to?” See: How to use LinkedIn to win more business in your niche.

3. Virtual face time

Communicating with clients in a time of crisis is ideally done face-to-face, one client at a time. But If reaching clients in person isn’t feasible, a video chat may can be a almost as effective. Utilizing technology to communicate with multiple people at once will improve efficiency and allow you to get your message out quickly. Skype or Google+'s new “huddle” feature are great ways to connect with clients through video chat at extremely low costs. You can use new technology to keep your client’s informed and maintain a personal connection. See: RIAs fed up with Facebook should hop on the Google+ bandwagon.

These are just three ways we’ve seen advisors utilize social media over the past few weeks to help manage clients during the market volatility – and there are many more. The key is to stay visible and be a resource by providing value. Social media is not the end-all answer to any form of client communication, but it’s a secondary tool that can be used to help strengthen your brand with existing clients and source new opportunities.

Kevin Nichols is the director of marketing at The Oechsli Institute, To learn more about The Oechsli Institute visit Oechsli.com.


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Maria Marsala

Maria Marsala

August 17, 2011 — 4:55 AM

Excellent points. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in social networking, but face time, as you indicated, is so important. I also like the idea of the virtual “face time” you mentioned. It can be a bit more people friendly to view someone’s face on Skype or other venue. Recently I’ve read a few stories where advisors, in an effort to reach as many of their clients as possible, sent out an email blast inviting them attend an “update” session via teleconference. They were able to extend their reach by creating such events on different days and at different times.

—Maria
★ EYB free Business Evaluator: http://www.CoachMaria.com

Mike Byrnes

Mike Byrnes

August 16, 2011 — 5:09 PM

Good points. Social media can help increase exposure and strengthen existing relationships!

Mike Byrnes, President
Byrnes Consulting, LLC
http://byrnesconsulting.com/
http://twitter.com/ByrnesConsultin

TJ Gilsenan

TJ Gilsenan

August 22, 2011 — 2:51 AM

Worth noting – if you have not already integrated SM into your practice – that is: determined which platform(s) work best for your business, established internal compliance procedures for creating and posting content, and trained your clients about what and when to expect from you there – a volatile market is the worst time to start.

Better to rely on what you – and your clients – know best for communications until things settle down. Then begin integrating SM into you practice.

http://theinteractiveadvisor.com

Brooke Southall

Brooke Southall

August 22, 2011 — 2:55 AM

TJ,

That seems like good advice. It’s probably worth its own column, though obviously you made your point quite nicely in two sentences.

Brooke

Kevin Nichols

Kevin Nichols

August 22, 2011 — 6:49 PM

TJ,

I agree. If you are just getting started, stick to the basic forms of communication until things calm down – especially if clients aren’t used to it. However, if you are already up and running on social media – this can be a great time to think outside of the box and add a few additional forms of communication into the mix.

-Kevin Nichols
www.Oechsli.com

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