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How exactly RIAs can get the something for almost nothing they expect from 'free' social media

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter basics can be a gateway to a broader cyber existence, maybe

Friday, May 29, 2015 – 4:57 PM by Guest Columnist Seth Worby
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Seth Worby: Financial services is second-largest industry represented on LinkedIn -- and 67% of the profiles are adults with investments portfolios to manage.

Brooke’s Note: Social media has been a great big dud for the wealth management business. It promised to solve two of an advisors biggest problems — marketing and communicating — for free. Most advisors don’t market at all so any gains in that area were to be big gains. Most advisors are good communicators; they just have a tight budget on the amount of caring words that they can utter in a given day. Maybe social media could allow advisors to mass distribute themselves — leveraging the reserve capital of fresh thoughts. In that sense it was the first wave of robo-advice, an automation of self, and everyone bit hard on the concept, though only in theory. Since robo-advisors came along, social media has become almost a quaint afterthought, not completely forgotten or dismissed but accorded low expectations. Experts tell us that social media is everything it was ever promised to be. It just needs to be part of a broader marketing strategy. But that’s about as appealing as telling a seven-year-old that, no, there is no Santa Claus, but that the spirit of Christmas makes up for it. No thanks. I want tweets from important people asking me where to sign up for my services. What I like about this article is that it gets specific on some points — and that seems like a good place to start over.

In this age of obsessive online sharing, the once indignant cry of TMI (too much information) has lost its force.

Still, one must admit that it’s almost impossible for a financial advisor to know too much about their clients and, conversely, it’s intensely desirable to have clients and prospective clients know the right things about you.

Enter the ubiquitous social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You’re probably on at least one of them and have left your digital DNA in the form of a “like,” a “re-tweet” or a “congrats” to a colleague of a colleague on the occasion of her work anniversary. But how do you proactively put sites to work in the service of advancing your firm’s business and your reputation?

The instruction to use social media is not helpful. It’s right up there with: eat healthy foods.

Which are the right websites to start with? What do you post in order to come across as both approachable and knowledgeable, yet not creepily intrusive? See: Social media is effective with ultra-wealthy clients but forget the Morgan Stanley approach.

There are a few routes to take when kickstarting your social media activity; we’ll discuss a few of the options and best practices associated with each so you’ll know the optimal entry points for your business.

But first, one word of caution about social media for financial advisors: It is always a good idea to check with your compliance department to learn about any guidelines and/or regulations they have on social networking tools. If they do allow you to create profiles and post, you’ll most likely be required to document and track all your messages and activity. A few good companies that specialize in this area are: Actiance Inc., Smarsh Inc. and SocialWare.com. See: Outdated RIA websites risk compliance trouble not to mention credibility .

700 billion minutes

If your Facebook post was printed on a billboard in the middle of New York City, would your reputation remain intact?
If your Facebook post was printed
on a billboard in the middle
of New York City, would your
reputation remain intact?

With 1.1 billion users, Facebook gets the attention of everyone around the world. Users are spending a cumulative 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month and each user spends on average 20 minutes on the site, incredible statistics for an incredibly useful website to use in promoting your business. See: Orion will take a page out of Facebook to help RIAs achieve better inter-office chats.

Personal or professional?
Sign up for a Facebook “company” page. With a Facebook company page you can create a business profile to promote your brand and services, show your company history and timeline of successes. Look for the link on the main Facebook page underneath the “Sign Up” button for personal pages — in the very small font.

If you build it, will they come?
Facebook makes it easy to contact your current clients, prospects and professional contacts and ask them to join your community. You can also invite your personal friends to like your business page too. When the “like” shows up in your family and friends newsfeed, this means more impressions of your company name out in the world of social media. Also, integrating the Facebook icon into your business website will let prospects know they can also find you on Facebook and connect that way. Find the Facebook brand assets here.

What should I share?
Pictures of the kids? An article in which you were recently quoted? A picture of the scenic view from the Financial Planning Association’s annual conference in Arizona? The answer is yes, to all of the above — providing you share in the right way. Sometimes it comes down to a simple judgment call. If this post was printed on a billboard in the middle of New York City, would your reputation remain intact? If the answer is yes, then go for it! A well-balanced mix of both personal and professional posts will show you have an engaging personality and authoritativeness in the industry.

It is also important to get your Facebook community engaged. Posting relevant industry news and blogs is great, but get online and start a conversation. Asking poll questions to gather commentary is a great conversation starter. Also engaging are contests and giveaways — maybe a monthly giveaway to a local favorite restaurant, something to keep people coming back to your page.

Take advantage of the Facebook real estate
Use the billboard size space at the top of your page, a.k.a. cover photo to your advantage; but be cautious because Facebook prohibits using this space promotionally, i.e. no special promotions or placing your website address within the picture. Choose a photo that will represent you well: your company logo is an obvious choice, picture with clients or friends or maybe a scenic landscape photo. You can also take a stab at creating a collage of a few pictures to add interest to your page. You can find the specifications for all the Facebook real estate here.

The time issue
Be selective about what you post. Also, make a basic calendar of activities, which will keep you organized. And if you see activity on your page, the most important task will be to respond in a timely manner.

140 characters

Tweeting involves a delicate balance of limited self-promotion mixed in with education and information for your followers, topped with a dash of personality.
Tweeting involves a delicate balance of
limited self-promotion mixed in with education
and information for your followers, topped
with a dash of personality.

The short answer is a lot more than you think. Although only 10% of Americans are using Twitter, 89% are familiar with it, according to Tom Webster from Edison Research. With 89% of the world familiar with Twitter, it should be part of your online social networking campaigns. See: RIAs recount how they reap new clients using LinkedIn and Twitter, stealing a march on shackled wirehouse advisors.

Setting yourself up for success
An important step for launching a Twitter account is choosing the right handle — think of this as your calling card for Twitter. This could be as simple as using your name, with proper capitalization where needed. If you are a business owner, then the name of the business is likely the best route to take. Once you have the account established, integrate the Twitter handle into your e-mail signature, business cards, website and blogs to advertise the handle. Make sure your profile is set to public and that you’ve added your company location so you can be discovered and followed by others.

Personalizing your page
As with other social media platforms, be sure to post a photo of yourself and create a branded background for your Twitter account. People on Twitter want to connect an account to a real person and this is especially true in the financial services industry. Twitter also gives you the opportunity — with a generous allotment of 160 characters — to describe who you are and what you do. Include a link to your website within the profile to easily link your Twitter feed to your branded website. You can find the specifications for all the Twitter real estate here.

Follow your industry leaders
Interacting with the financial community on Twitter will help broaden your reach while at the same time expand your business knowledge. Follow other financial service leaders, conferences and associations to build your base of content gathering for potential re-tweets or reading general industry buzz. See: How a Twitter 'storm’ extended the MarketCounsel Summit from hundreds to thousands of people and showcased the potential of tweets.

Ready, set, tweet
Tweeting involves a delicate balance of limited self-promotion mixed in with education and information for your followers, topped with a dash of personality. Tweet out an interesting fact you learned while attending a conference, a picture from a family trip to the Red Sox game or a comment about today’s stock market activity. If there is a way to link the tweet back to your company website or blog this creates a direct invitation for your followers to learn more about you. These tweets tell your followers you are up on your industry news and ensure that you maintain the personal connection.

The re-tweet and the hashtag
To bump up your account activity, don’t forget to re-tweet (RT) the people you follow from time to time with a comment and credit to the source (an @ sign will work best). The re-tweet may lead to an additional follower or create a conversation between you and the person/company you have re-tweeted. Use a hashtag (#) to add your tweet to a stream of tweets on the same topic. This is very helpful when looking for financial advice. A good website that helps track hashtag trends is Hashtags.org.

200 million degrees of separation

When you do decide to connect with someone new, make sure you customize the LinkedIn InMail message you are sending to them.
When you do decide to connect
with someone new, make sure you
customize the LinkedIn InMail message you
are sending to them.

LinkedIn started out as primarily a career-building site back in 2003, but today is the largest site for networking business professionals and reaches 200 million users. The second largest industry represented on LinkedIn is Financial Services. Of the millions of LinkedIn profiles, 67% are adults with investments portfolios to manage — an attractive proposition and a long list of potential clients to sort through. See: Advisor Tested: How LinkedIn can truly build your business and not just feed your ego.

Set up your profile page
Similar to other social media websites, LinkedIn makes it fairly simple to set up your profile page. The key is to fill it out in its entirety to ensure you extract the most out of the platform. Remember to add your certifications, professional courses or volunteer charity work to reinforce credibility and inject personality. Add logos and a profile picture to enhance the look and feel of the profile. Also, include some helpful keywords in your headline to make it easy for the right people to find you. If you specialize in managing retirement accounts or selecting high-growth stocks, then clearly spell out those specialties.

Join the cool kids clubs
LinkedIn Groups are a way to meet people by joining group of people that share your interests. But do not limit your involvement to only financial advisor groups; it’s a good idea to join multiple groups that match your interests to have a more well-rounded profile and more interactions. You never know where a new prospect will turn up.

Pay to play
In some cases it may be worth the extra money to upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium services. A premium level upgrade will give you a few extra perks: you can access the full list of those who have viewed your profile, contact anyone with InMail, review expanded profiles, employ more search filters and obtain better search results. There are three different levels within the premium upgrade: business, business plus and executive, with varied levels of communication and searching features. Information about all the premium service options can be found here.

Weekday updates
If you have noteworthy content to share a few times a week that is relevant and helpful, be it of a personal or professional nature, this is the place to share it. You could post about your latest blog entry (include a link to your website) or an industry article you recently read. Integrating a mix of blog posts, articles, videos or info graphics will make your profile page more attractive to your connections. See: Sallie Krawcheck talks tough — and with disarming openness — online about the glass ceiling and lip gloss.

Making the connection
Making connections is the key to LinkedIn and connecting with your current clients is a must, since this gives you the opportunity to see their first-degree connections. When you do decide to connect with someone new, make sure you customize the LinkedIn InMail message you are sending to them; this will give the person more insight into why you are asking to connect with them. See: Dissecting the pathology of UHNW wealth managers who want brand building without marketing.

Be cautious when sending “blind” connection requests on LinkedIn — your account can be restricted if the recipients hit the “I don’t know” response too many times. Customizing the InMail message and having a picture on your profile page will help people recognize you. See: 5 ways for RIAs to avoid social media and 'holistic’ wealth management overreaches in a share-happy e-world.

Read more about LinkedIn’s policies here.

Other helpful links:

LinkedIn’s Downloadable Logos

LinkedIn’s Brand Guidelines

Where to start

Using social media can be overwhelming at first, but the key is to start small with the one or two platforms that will be most beneficial to your business. This will allow you to get to know the ins and outs of the social media platforms over time.

If you believe that your ideal customer profile is a C-level executive at a Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn may be the best place to start making connections with those clients. Families starting out who are perhaps on the younger side of investing may be using Facebook more as a means of communicating. See: 6 ways that RIAs can hone their expertise in social media by acting more like journalists.

When you do decide to jump into the social media pool, make sure all your accompanying marketing materials hold the social networking badges or logos so you can cross promote your account(s).

As more and more business is facilitated or generated online, becoming involved in the online conversation in the coming years will be necessary to keep your business growing. The key is to have balanced social networking profiles that demonstrate your keen business sense with a glimpse at your personal side, making you and your industry credentials stand out from the crowd.

Backed with a decade of experience in the SEM and SEO fields, Seth founded Champ Internet Solutions in March 2009. A pioneering SEO strategist and web marketer, Seth’s breadth of technological and business knowledge helps drives results in terms of SEO, e-commerce, marketing and integrated solutions for Champ’s clients. Seth earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in E-Business Management from Champlain College, which was the inspiration for the company’s name.

Seth Worby

Elmer Rich

Elmer Rich

June 9, 2015 — 4:40 PM

This is a professional forum. Professionals are obligated to have evidence and proof for claims. Let’s see the data, shall we? I would love to have ANY independent credible data to show my clients about ANY web effectiveness, let alone social media. I am strictly B2B. I can’t find any – from any industry.

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