A financial services social media expert stresses the importance of analyzing audience and connecting to stakeholders and peers to gain new clients.
You’ve been thinking about it for years. Or maybe it’s on your “to-do” list, but it keeps being deprioritized. Or you decided, at some point, that it’s just not your thing.
The “it” in question is building a social media presence, and advisers and advisory practices avoid focusing on it at their own peril, according to Intention.ly co-founder Meghan Richter, whose firm specializes in financial services marketing.
“We know that adding a CMO [chief marketing officer] hat to the list of things you’re already doing can be really stressful,” Richter told an audience of plan advisers at the 2023 PLANADVISER National Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. “But if you’re here … you know that building brand recognition, prioritizing client communication, thinking about growth beyond just word-of-mouth referrals and continuously showcasing your value [to clients] has to be a top priority for you.”
Richter, who noted that she talks to advisers on a daily basis, realizes that many question whether social media is worth their time. According to the data, Richter believes the answer is: “100% yes.”
She cited research showing that 10% of financial advisers are found online, and upwards of 70% of investors reallocate funds or change financial providers based on content found on social media.
“Being [on social media] is really critical,” Richter said. “That being said, how do you begin? How do you start thinking about your social media strategy?”
Richter laid out three main tactics for advisories to build and leverage social media:
- Determine which platforms to leverage.
Richter noted that the social media platforms that people use tend to differ based on their generation. Baby Boomers, for instance, are most likely to be on Facebook, LinkedIn and X (Twitter). For younger users, however, those outlets start to drop or fall off altogether, with Generation Z’s top platforms being, in order, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.
“You have to start with your target audience, and you need to figure out what’s the best platform to leverage [for them],” she said. “It doesn’t mean that you need to be on all of them, but you need to be on the right ones where your target audience may be.”
- Strategize the persona of the social channels you select.
There are many options, Richter said, when it comes to creating a social media persona, from which platforms to be on to whether an adviser should be posting as themselves or as their advisory practice.
For instance, she cautioned advisers against using a personal Facebook page most often used for friends and family to start posting business content. Even if you have a following, it may be better to start a separate, dedicated business channel to generate client interest.
For popular social media channels, Richter recommended the following as essential:
- LinkedIn: business page and personal profile
- Facebook: business page
- YouTube: business channel
- Instagram: business profile
- X (Twitter): personal profile
- TikTok: personal channel
- Build and optimize your profile.
Once it comes time for an adviser to build a profile, Richter suggested several best practices.
First, an adviser should fill out a robust profile, use specific key words related to the business and have a strong call to action, such as offering an option to book an appointment.
Richter also recommended that advisers use their own voice, not jargon, and post practical, applicable information. She also said it is crucial to answer client questions and engage with others in the industry, noting the importance of keeping the “social” in social media.
“One of the key benefits of social media is not only that it is great to connect with audiences, but that it gives you a solid brand persona,” Richter said. “When you build out a really optimized social media profile, even if it’s just one, it tells the gods up in Google: ‘Hey, this is a firm that is in this space posting content,’ so if someone is searching for a financial adviser in Michigan, you’ll increase your ability to come up more quickly, because you’re posting relevant content or you’ve built out a robust profile.”
The marketing head noted that advisers do not have to worry too much about volume, as social media is about “quality, not quantity.”
Once the baseline of social presence is set up, the community can build over time, with Richter suggesting:
- Inviting and sharing profiles with current clients (and encouraging them to do the same);
- Spreading the word about community events and charities the firm or adviser is involved in;
- Tagging local businesses, organizations and schools in posts to increase visibility; and
- Sharing accomplishments, awards, news articles and other accomplishments.
“After you’ve built out your profile and started posting your content, you have to keep growing your community,” Richter said. “Tag local businesses, organizations and referral partners that you work with in what you’re sharing … and just keep sharing more of what’s happening in your business.”