According to an article in the Miami Herald’s Business Section, LinkedIn and Taylor Nelson Sofres, a research firm, partnered to survey 1,000 small-business owners last year to study social media habits. More than 94 percent of respondents reported using social media as a marketing tool to promote their businesses, while 49 percent of them reported using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for educational purposes and to gain new insights to facilitate growth.
The social media landscape has changed in the past year, opening the door for financial advisors to leverage a number networks. For the most part, advisors are already fans of Facebook and LinkedIn. What about Twitter? With 288 million monthly active users, Twitter is an important social network financial advisors should consider using.
Though still largely untapped, advisors that are using it consider the abbreviated, chirpy social platform to be a useful marketing tool; and some have devised strategies to bring their own voice to financial planning by focusing their tweets on those they feel are most likely to become clients.
Another great thing about Twitter is that when news breaks, Twitter is always ready to hold a conversation — and some financial advisers take full advantage of it.
Like LinkedIn and Facebook, it is now possible to connect with anyone on Twitter. Last month, the social network introduced a feature that allows users to receive direct messages from anyone, regardless of whether that person is a follower.
A well-thought Twitter strategy can be a game changer when it comes to generating new business. With a growing competitive business environment, adding Twitter to your social media mix can open up new opportunities that can yield lasting results.
Brian Hart of Flackable, a media relations, digital strategy and brand marketing agency for RIAs and other financial services firms, offers these steps to building a successful Twitter campaign.
Build a Foundation for Success. Begin with the profile. Make sure it is attractive, professional and complete. It should have a photo, banner, complete bio (use as many characters as possible, Twitter allows up to 160), location and website link. The bio should let other users know who you are, and it should mention the primary topics you will tweet about.
The next step is establishing two-way communication. You will have little success if you only promote your brand and its services. The account should participate in industry conversations and initiate interactions with other users. Engagement will remain stagnant if it’s not mutual, not to mention that a static account makes the brand appear dull and disconnected from its audience.
Pinpoint Prospects. Twitter’s list feature serves as a terrific prospecting tool. While users can spend hours compiling a lengthy list of potential customers, I recommend searching through existing public lists compiled by other users. For example, if one of my financial advisor clients were looking to expand their corporate retirement practice in New England, I would help them find existing lists comprised of CEOs, CFOs and other decision makers in the region.
Another savvy way to find prospective clients is by viewing and engaging the followers of your competitors.
Developing Relationships. Strategically following other users is often the first step toward developing a relationship. The users you follow should receive a notification that you followed them, thus initiating communication.
Favorites and retweets are a similar way to subtly communicate on Twitter without sending a text-based message. Most users, especially those with modest followings, truly appreciate knowing that their tweets are being read and shared. The favorite button serves as a public display of your endorsement and it notifies the user of your engagement. Similarly, the retweet button can also serve as a kind gesture by amplifying the visibility of a user’s tweet.
The most direct form of engagement on Twitter is mentioning a user. Thanking a user for following, politely introducing yourself or commenting on a tweet are easy ways to further elevate a relationship.
Converting Leads. The key to social selling is to take the online relationship to a more personal level, whether it’s in the form of a telephone call or a face-to-face meeting. The mistake many advisors on Twitter make is that they try to begin the sales process online. That approach is inappropriate and aggressive, and can jeopardize any trust, credibility or rapport that’s been established.
Your goal on Twitter should never be to close a sale. It should be to get that person on the phone. That’s a very important concept to grasp, and it also applies to other social networks. The phone call, on the other hand, is where the real sales process begins. From there you can go right into your elevator pitch and normal sales routine.
Measuring Effectiveness. You can measure the number of engagements, audience reached, etc., but the figure that will have the most direct impact on your bottom line will be the number of Twitter relationships that were elevated to a more personal level. This is often a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Even an email can be considered a slightly more personal exchange than the initial interactions on Twitter.
Final Tips. You will likely see more success utilizing both a company account and a personal account or a group of personal accounts. The company account is a terrific branding tool, but at the end of the day people want to do business with people. This is especially true when it comes to the financial services industry, where trust is often what directs the decision making of clients and prospects. Therefore, the face or faces of a brand should have an active and accessible presence on Twitter. That’s where you’re likely to get the best leads.
Financial Advisors – please make sure you follow your firm’s social media policies.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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