When I was still wholesaling 401(k) plans in 2013, I was on an advisory board tasked with helping to devise our company’s social media strategy.
We bought a software system that allowed our field sales reps to push a button and share company-approved social media content. Back then, that was the “safe” way to incorporate social media into our sales process, and it was frankly the only way we could actually use social media to share content. This option was definitely better than nothing at all. For those of us in business development, we all know that the “fortune is in the follow-up” – when people think about you more often than not, you get more shots to win business.
Today, financial services entities allow their registered reps and company staff to do much, much more than just push a button. Many of us are permitted to use social media in ways that are both personalized and specific to our business objectives. For this column, I interviewed three such who use social media to drive their marketing and business development goals.
Kate Barton, Marketing Manager at Clearview Advisory
“In our strategy for social media, we use LinkedIn as a way to stay in touch with people we’ve met or want to work with,” says Barton. “We incorporate it into our drip marketing campaign. We work with small to mid-sized businesses, and some may not have worked with an advisor before. They can be hesitant to sign on the dotted line, and we recognize it takes a while to gain their trust. It’s a big decision to hire an advisor!”
She adds, “LinkedIn and social media allow us to interact with people on a neutral platform and build a relationship over time. We use our own photos and original content almost exclusively and we hire a photographer every couple of years to take fresh photos.”
To highlight two of Barton’s key points:
- As she said, LinkedIn and social media can be considered “neutral” platforms. In addition to the direct one-on-one follow-up in which we all participate, social media allows us to stay in front of people in an indirect manner. More exposure for you = more people thinking about you = more opportunities.
- Using their own photos allows Barton and her firm to distinguish themselves from similar firms. I call this “anti-stock” photography. Instead of featuring nameless people on your website, brochures, and social media posts, highlight the people who actually work there. The main thing that differentiates your company from others? Your people. Make sure you show the public you’re real people.
Derek Notman, CFP
“I leverage social media by creating a series of short videos that build upon each other to tell a story and take viewers on a journey, which ultimately led to my website which offered even more value, (e.g., a webinar and eBook),” Notman says. “I also made it a point to create a lot more original content that wasn't about selling anything but focused on the benefits and outcomes of my services. Both of these led to exponential growth and sales.”
He adds: “A strategy I would recommend using: create short, personalized videos to send as direct messages and via email. My response rate was drastically higher, and I also receive a lot of positive feedback about how personal and different my approach is.”
Notman does a great job here of highlighting the power of video. Fifteen years ago, YouTube didn’t exist, and even if you were lucky enough to have good-quality video to share, how would you have shared it? Today your website and social media accounts allow you to distribute video for free, and what better way is there to have people “experience” what you’re like in real life? So consider adding video to your marketing mix in 2020 if you haven’t already.
Alyssa Rock, Bolder B2B Marketing
“I partner directly with our top sales executives and internal thought leaders who have the best LinkedIn networks (clients and prospects) and provide the correct content, hashtags, and even emojis for them to post on their profiles, Rock says. “I prefer using their personal pages instead of LinkedIn company social media pages/showcase pages.”
The point of social media “is to be social and spark engagement,” Rock points out. “We convert leads faster when the content is shared on the personal profiles of those with boots on the ground. I leverage these tactics heavily around trade shows and webinars and consistently outperform any paid placement.”
She hits the nail on the head. You’ll never meet someone who loves LinkedIn company pages and the ability to hyper-focus on targeted prospects with LinkedIn ads than Yours Truly. However, as much as we all love our company’s brand, our clients and prospective clients prefer connecting with individuals – like you.
Is what Rock suggests scalable? Nope. And that’s the point. Personal touches (i.e., the thing that best drives business and engenders trust) outperforms robo-messaging, and it will continue to do so. Rock acts as an accountability partner of sorts for her executives. They know they need to participate in the content creation process, but not take on that burden entirely themselves.
In 2020, your clients and prospective clients will use social media more and more, and if you’re not showing up in some capacity, you’re going to miss opportunities to win business. Here’s my top suggestion for implementing a strategy that will take hold and stick: First create a “not doing” list and write all the tactics down that you’re knowingly not implementing. Not on Twitter? Great! Give yourself credit for something you’re not doing. Instagram? Is that a thing these days? Nope, not using it.
Once you create a long, long list of what you’re not doing, list three things you’ll actually do in 2020 like weekly LinkedIn posts, monthly videos or a one-time photo shoot, for example. The revisit your list of “not doing” items, feel great about them, and focus on the activities that drive results.
Spencer X Smith is the founder of spencerXsmith.com. He’s a former 401(k) wholesaler, and now teaches financial services professionals how to use social media for business development. This column originally appeared in the Winter issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.