Financial Advisors Social Media ISSUE 3. Getting Started: Creating Your Social Media Strategy

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1 & Financial Advisors Social Media ISSUE 3 Getting Started: Creating Your Social Media Strategy

2 Prepared by Dan Martin, Director of Marketing, National Planning Corporation. You need usable guidelines, competitive research, and practical ideas to help you create a compliant and effective strategy. Getting Started ONCE you have reviewed and understood your Broker-Dealer s specific policy requirements, and partnered with a reputable third-party provider to ensure that your content is monitored and archived in compliance with industry requirements, you are ready to get started! At this point in the process, the question that most Advisors are facing is Now what? It s a valid question, and it helps to think of social media as you would a blank canvas. You have all the tools you need to start your painting, but you need to develop a solid idea and direction before your brush ever touches the canvas. A business cannot simply launch a page and hope that the prospects will materialize. In fact, companies that launch a Facebook or LinkedIn and neglect to use it often come away with a technology black eye, and a negative perception that is hard to recover from. We would urge you to cement your goals for social media (i.e., connect with clients through constant postings, recruit new staff members or Advisors, keep up with industry commentaries and content, etc.), and prepare a long-term implementation strategy prior to launching a page. Prepared by Dan Martin, Director of Marketing, NPC. 1

3 As each individual practice is unique, the same will be true of your strategy, but to help you get started, we have provided a few tips below: 1. Know Your Audience It is important to research exactly what your potential clients are looking for online, and how you can model your pages to fit these needs. For example, if your ideal prospect uses Facebook to find and attend online Webinars and other industry events, make sure that you provide access to these on your page. One of the best ways to get to know your ideal prospects? Survey your current clients! As you delve further into social media, you will find that a lot of the most effective strategies will kill two birds with one stone. In other words, with social media, many of your new client acquisition strategies will be irrevocably tied to your client retention strategies. For example, surveying your top clients to gather relevant feedback will help you both enhance and solidify relationships with your current clients, while simultaneously allowing you to gather valuable intelligence that you can use to lure your ideal prospects. 2. Leverage Your Client Base Unlike other marketing mediums, the success of social media in acquiring new clients is predicated more on the current activity of your page than any direct recruiting efforts. Use signatures, social media icons and call-to-action blurbs on your company website, and other communication tools necessary to inform your audience that you wish to connect with them via social media. One of the most important elements of your strategy will hinge on how you plan to encourage your current clients to engage with each other and interact with you and your staff via social media. In other words, because more genuine positive discussion on your page can lead to prospects being attracted your company as a viable option, it will be vital to post content that your existing client base finds interesting and relevant. This strategy can include anything from wording your posts as questions or polls to engage certain client segments in conversation to incentivizing likes on Facebook (i.e., When we reach 1,000 Likes, we will make a micro-loan to small business owners in Kenya, etc.). The bottom line is that the conversation and activity are key to success in social media, and your strategy must include innovative ways to promote both. 2

4 3. Create Realistic Timelines It is important to develop a consistent posting schedule, as a solid routine will ensure that creating and publishing social media content does not take up all of your valuable time. We recommend a post frequency of at least 3 times per week, and to ensure that every post is not only informative and useful to your ideal client, but also promotes engagement. Remember, though, that every practice is different, and you need to create your posting and content timelines based on realistic abilities and timeframes. The best Facebook and LinkedIn pages have found the fine balance between too many and too few posts, and they seldom (if ever) offer up posts that are not engaging or interesting. We will get into more detail on the nuts and bolts of what to post and how often in the Executing Your Social Media Strategy white paper, but understanding your limitations and developing sensible timelines is a key component of a sound strategy, and should be completed before you publish your pages. 4. Set Attainable ROI Goals Just like any other marketing medium, you ll not see immediate return on investment overnight. Luckily, with social media, your only initial investment is your time, so it provides a perfect chance to test and re-test your marketing messaging without wasting money. Even if your pages are not bringing in new clients, they can still be very effective client retention tools. Both Facebook and LinkedIn serve as new forums for your clients to connect and engage with each other and your staff, and this activity is what will bring in new users to your page. In other words, it is important to set actual number goals for conversions and revenues, but don t expect the impact to be immediate or any faster than your other marketing efforts. 5. Measure, Measure, Measure! Measurement is an integral part of any successful marketing strategy. Your results in social media can help you locate the areas of your campaign that are creating leads and those that need to be improved or re-worked. However, to measure effectively, you need to know where to look. While measurement is a key component of the execution phase, it is important to decide what metrics you will focus on in your strategy. The following are a few of the most popular social media metrics (and how to mathematically calculate each one), courtesy of Radian6. 3

5 Metric Calculation Description Determine Potential Reach of Social Media Number of People Who Shared Your Content Plus Their Networks Use Facebook Insights or Google Analytics to get raw data on how many users your posts reached and how many times each post was shared. The combination of the reach of your original post and the networks of those who shared the post is your potential reach. Value of A Fan From Social Media Total $ Value of Transaction Resulting From Conversations Divided By Actual Reach Review your data to estimate your average monthly reach across all of your online networks, and then count the number of conversions that are originating in those channels during that same month. For example, for every 10 people you re potentially reaching, you could count two conversions (or five new subscribers, or whatever your goal is). Share of Conversation Posts Discussing Both Chosen Topic And Your Brand Divided By Posts Discussing Chosen Topic First, choose a topic that directly applies to your value proposition, like retirement planning or IRA rollover, and chart the amount of posts that focus on this topic for a month. Take the amount of those posts that mention both the chosen topic and your brand or DBA, and divide by the total to calculate your share of the conversation. Total Social Media ROI GDC Gained from Social Media Referrals or Acquisitions Minus Cost of SM Marketing If you choose only to use the complimentary features available through Facebook and Linkedin, any GDC directly earned through these mediums is just a bonus! However, you may want to combine your standard marketing efforts with social media, and use the total cost as the denominator to calculate a more accurate total ROI. For more details, click here to access 5 Tips for Effective Social Media Measurement, an informative ebook from Radian6. 4

6 There are a wide variety of complimentary, easyto-use tools that you can use to measure the success of your strategy, including Facebook Insights, Facebook Search, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Wildfire, and many more. If you are interested, you can also purchase one of the many excellent advanced monitoring systems available, such as Radian6, but many of these are only available at very high costs (i.e., Radian6 can cost up to $25,000). These items are undoubtedly worth the money, if you have that much to spend. As you complete your research, you will find that social media experts recommend these types of enterprise systems for larger companies with a massive volume of content and users, but encourage small businesses to consider the free or less expensive options. This is not to say, of course, that a sound social media strategy will be the magic bullet that opens the floodgates for new prospects and referrals to come pouring in. The fact is that social media as a marketing tool may not work for everyone, just as standard practices like direct marketing will generate excellent qualified leads in certain environments and fall flat in others. The success of any marketing campaign depends on how well the message, budget, and style of execution matches your specific business model and core values. When crafting your social media strategy, always keep in mind that matching the message to your business model is the most important component. Was this white paper useful to you? If so, don t miss our next edition of Financial Advisors & Social Media, titled Executing Your Strategy I Publishing Your Company Pages. If you re interested in learning more about how NPC can help you use social media to promote your practice, engage with clients and prospects, and build your brand organically, contact us today at (800) or via at and make sure to check out our website at 4

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