Does your business have a social media strategy, or just a Facebook page? Are you truly leveraging the power of the digital age? Regular columnist and marketing guru, Rachel Staggs, examines one of the common problems faced by advisers utilising social media…
I talk to a lot of financial advisers that think of web marketing as something that ‘just happens’. They build a website and think, “Job done!” They create a Facebook page and think, “Yep, I’m doing social media!” That mindset ultimately delivers a bad experience and not the results they had been told they would achieve. Perhaps they’ve been to a conference, listened to a social media talk and then gone back to the office and got someone to create it all for them and believed that’s the end of the task; unfortunately it’s not. Gone are the ‘good old days’ of what we call ‘disruptive marketing’ where you would shoot out a TV, radio or print ad and just wait for the phone to ring. If you build it they will come… not anymore.
Unfortunately, or fortunately however you may look at the world today, what web marketing allows you to do is to have real time engagement with your ideal clients; something the ‘good old days’ never enabled you to do. But here is where I see many a mistake being made…
There is no engagement!
People are literally being ignored online! If you post an article online be aware that you may get some questions or comments from your readers, perhaps a ‘like’ or two and even a share – that is people engaging with you, don’t ignore them. Imagine if you were sitting opposite someone in person. You say something and they either nod and smile or ask you a question about what you’ve said. Would you respond by saying and doing nothing? You wouldn’t do that in ‘real life’, yet so many do it online!
In the online world, the goal posts have been changed. A visitor to your website or social media channel is looking for someone to talk to them, and many times they are hoping it’s you. Remember the days of offline marketing – when you stopped talking the sales dried up. The online world is the same – when you stop interacting, people lose interest and go somewhere else. In today’s online economy, engagement matters as much as, if not more than, any ad you can create.
Your website is not a static brochure, it’s a platform for you to engage with real potential clients. Social media is an avenue for your businesses to connect with consumers. Chances are, if they are on your website they have not been searching for the best holiday deals or fastest lawn mowers; chances are, they’ve been searching for advice. And in this world, the power of consumers has really shifted. They are not waiting for you to disrupt their evening entertainment with a TV ad, they are seeking you out in their own time. It might be on the train on their way to work, sitting in a waiting room with time to spare, even waiting at an airport. They aren’t looking for billboards or commercials or top search engine rankings, they are looking to have a conversation, some sort of engagement.
I believe one of the problems that occurs with social media for advice businesses is when the social media function is completely outsourced to an external source or agency. For one, they aren’t aware of the compliance rules surrounding financial advice, but for another, you miss out on talking to potential clients. Let me give you an example [names have been changed for privacy and reputation concern]…
Harry is an insurance adviser who outsourced his social media marketing to an external agency. He paid a low monthly fee for the service and felt that he was doing the right thing. When asked how often articles were posted, what they were about, how engaged his followers were and so forth, Harry had no idea. He didn’t know which ideal clients had viewed his Facebook page; he didn’t even know what the page was called! This is not the right way to do social media or social engagement. You must have total visibility and be involved. There are multiple platforms that have been designed to assist busy business owners, and several new ones launching everyday. The success of social media lies in many things; one of the obvious ones is your engagement with it.
You are being asked to participate in a conversation with someone who has a direct interest in what you offer
We live in a new world where clients actually want to connect with the brands that they like. What do you do when a TV ad comes on? In my family we mute them (unless the kids get hold of the remote)! Why do we mute ads? Because we’re not interested in listening to their message. We will seek out a solution to our own problems when it suits us!
Remember, every online search is a cry for help. Every connection on social media is another person saying, “Please talk to me!” “Tell me if you have ever helped anyone just like me?”
You are being asked to participate in a conversation with someone who has a direct interest in what you offer. That’s gold! If you want to win your potential client’s business, engage with them. Make yourself available to them and you will be rewarded!
Social engagement is key. Plan your social media so that it becomes part of your business and culture, rather than an add-on you just don’t have time for. Working with an external provider can certainly help with content sourcing, reporting and campaign creation, but at the end of the day, it’s about engagement and that can’t be left to an external provider.
In her regular Practice Marketing column, Rachel Staggs provides insights to help advisers market their business to potential (and existing) clients.
Rachel Staggs is the founder and Managing Director of SRS Coaching & Consulting, a specialist financial services consulting firm.