Social media can be a double-edged sword. Spend too much time interacting with your network and you don’t get any other work done! Conversely, dabble occasionally and completely defeat the purpose of the tool.
Is there a happy medium? Yes, but with caveats. Clearly only you can best determine how much time to spend on social media, but beyond the clock aspect you must make sure your endeavors are purposeful and well considered.
In marketing we like to throw around ROI numbers to justify our efforts, and while facts are indeed available and helpful, you can also follow some simple steps to make social media work for you and your business.
- First, take a moment to define the purpose of your social media use and how it plays into your networking, sales, and marketing strategies. Even if you have been using social media platforms for years, step back and review your goals.
- Consider which platforms best suit your needs. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest are popular, but which ones best help you connect with your clients and prospects?
- Make your content platform appropriate. See Social Media Posts are not One-Size-Fits-All for a breakdown on the key differences and what type of content works best on each platform.
- Vary your frequency by platform. Just as the content and tone differs, so too does the frequency with which you need to post on the various social media sites. For instance, one or two posts per week is fine on LinkedIn, while you may tweet on Twitter four to six times a day and add content to Facebook once a day.
- Create a weekly content schedule to take some of the guess-work out of what to post and make the process more manageable. Perhaps on Facebook you post or share content about the economy on Monday, financial planning on Tuesday, and so forth throughout the week. Keep in mind, that an important news event might interrupt this schedule, but most weeks you should be able to stay on track.
- Use online management tools and schedulers to help Avoid the Social Media Vortex!
- Use analytics to discover the best times and days to post for your network. Scheduling app Buffer also provides tools for tracking your engagement on the leading social media sites. Other apps are also available for site-specific or general analytics.
Don’t overdo or avoid social media! Just find an appropriate balance and use the sites with purpose and planning.
Call it content marketing, inbound marketing or progressive marketing. Either way, it means educating customers without direct selling. Sharing content is the new way to market.
Especially for the financial services industry, content marketing makes sense. Your customers want unbiased information, and plenty of it, before they choose a financial advisor. The more you can provide that kind of information, the greater chance you will have of generating sales leads and of converting browsers into buyers. And the more time prospects spend educating themselves on the basics, the more quality time you can spend with them on their specific needs.
Here are some powerful reasons why you should adopt a content marketing strategy. According to global marketing research and advisory firm Demand Metric, content marketing:
- Generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing
- Costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing
- Improves brand loyalty
- Converts more leads into buyers
Understanding Content Marketing
So, what exactly is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content (across digital channels) to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Let’s unpack that definition because it says a lot.
The best place to start is with a clearly defined audience. As with any marketing, in content marketing you must first claim your niche. Identify not only the demographics of age, gender, income and occupation, but also the psychographics of values and beliefs. The more you know your customer, the better you will be at creating compelling content.
Notice they say content should be valuable, relevant and consistent. We would also add that it should be timely. Valuable means consumers literally should be willing to pay for it. Relevant means it must address their wants and needs. Consistency keeps consumers coming back because they know they can count on interesting content. And timely means your content addresses issues on the minds of consumers now, such as changes in the healthcare law or markets.
So let’s discuss content more specifically. By content we mean videos, blog posts, articles, social media, widgets like calculators, case studies, podcasts, and more. If it can be put online, it’s content, from a 140-character tweet to a 20-page white paper.
Developing Content for Financial Services
The best way to develop content is to do a little research. Pinpoint the search terms, keywords and topics consumers type in when they seek a financial advisor. Then make sure your website and content align with those terms. With a strategy known as content targeting, you can then use their search terms to deliver exactly the content they’re looking for. For example, if they find your site using tax planning search terms, you can deliver content to them on tax planning, not estate planning. Think of the questions you often hear from clients. What are their fears, hopes and goals? Let those inspire you for topics. Provide facts and information, but don’t be afraid to inject your own personal story or insights. After all, people make decisions based on logic and emotion.
OK, you might say, I know content is king. But what if I don’t have the time or inclination to develop it? First, you can hire a professional writer to create the content or a professional editor to refine your ideas. Some companies such as Smarsh specialize in creating websites for financial professionals and offer licensed, compliant content as a part of their package. Second, you’re probably already creating content in your work. It’s just a matter of turning it into something useful for the digital world.
For example, say you’re already doing seminars for your clients. Hire a videographer to record and edit your presentation. Then upload it to YouTube and include a link from your website. Or simply make an audio recording of it and turn that into a podcast. Have a video editor turn your PowerPoint presentation into a web seminar, or webinar. Or let someone else do the talking—you can interview intriguing leaders in your field (a great way to network!) and publish the podcasts.
Another common objection to sharing information goes to the heart of content marketing itself. I’ve spent years building my expertise, the comment goes. Why should I just give it away for free? It may feel like you’re giving away your most valuable secrets, but in fact this rich content reinforces your expertise.
When consumers recognize you as an expert, you begin building your credibility. When you build credibility, you expand the consumer’s trust in you. With credibility and trust established, you pave the way for a relationship. In fact, as Demand Metric has observed, 78 percent of consumers already perceive a relationship between themselves and a company using custom content.
And once you create a relationship, you’ve created a customer.