Posts tagged social media

8 Ways You’re Using LinkedIn Wrong

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By now, many of you know I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. The social media platform is the choice for business to business (B2B) connectivity. It can help you network, build creditability, ferret out information and leads, and basically rock your social selling efforts.

 

Yet, what if you are going about LinkedIn all wrong? Unfortunately, just joining LinkedIn and creating a minimal profile will not help you build your business. In fact, it might scare off your prospects because you look like an amateur. With 400 million members (122 million in the U.S. alone) and the addition of two more members every second, you cannot afford to ignore the power of LinkedIn.

So, how do you currently measure up your LinkedIn profile and activity? Not sure?  Here’s my top eight signs you are using LinkedIn Wrong.

 

  1. No Photo – People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. How can someone get to know you if they cannot see your face?
  2. Non-Professional Photo – Did you quickly crop a photo of yourself from an event? Sure, maybe you looked great that day, but the random bits of people (arms, shoulders, etc.), the busy background, and the poor lighting can make you look like an amateur. Your best option is a photo shoot with a professional photographer, but if that’s not possible, enlist the help of a friend or co-worker—just pay attention to background and lighting.
  3. Weak Professional Headline and/or Summary statement – These two sections are your place to shine, so don’t ignore them. Use the headline to succinctly state your value, and then use the summary to give connections a little insight on why you do what you do.
  4. Resume Wording – Sure, LinkedIn can help you find a job, but if you are using the platform to build connections and grow your business with social selling then the Experience section needs to focus on the client and how you can add value to your clients – not just list out job experience like a resume. Specifically, what expertise and services do you offer that help alleviate your clients’ concerns and issues.
  5. No Thought Leadership – Your LinkedIn updates provide an ideal way to share your smarts and build your credibility. Whether you create fresh content or curate and share relevant news (with a few of your own thoughts as to why the article is important), aim to post something at least once a week. You can also use LinkedIn to share content on your website by providing a summary and a link to the information (which helps drive traffic to your website).
  6. Not Doing Your Homework – Before you meet with a current client or a prospect, use LinkedIn to gather valuable contact insight. Pay attention to what they say about themselves, and how they say it. Perhaps someone is very curt, to the point and favors bullet points; great, now you know to be the same with your interaction and presentations.
  7. Not Cyber Sleuthing—Even with the non-paid version, the LinkedIn Advance People Search can help you find prospects by keywords, location, title, company, industry and more.
  8. Forgetting Your Manners—Send potential prospects or someone you met at a meeting a personalized connection request rather than using the standard supplied text. Also, let them know why you want to connect with them, any references, and if you have met, where you met.

 

Granted, there are many more ways to fine-tune your LinkedIn experience, but if you address these eight points, you’ll be off to a good start. Want more help? Be sure to check out my self-paced online eCourse, Social Selling for Financial Advisors, and tune into my next ShoeFitts Digital Institute broadcast.

Compliance and Social Selling Can Co-Exist!

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Are you still just dabbling with social media and digital networking? Oh, maybe you’ve created a LinkedIn profile, but your photo is a cropped pic from a party, and your personal headline, summary and experience sections read more like a job-hunting resume than a networking magnet. What’s more, you don’t use social media to discover valuable information to help generate sales!

A recent Putnam Investment study shows some 81 percent of financial advisors now use social media for business. Frankly, I find this percentage a little high since at nearly every speaking event people tell me they are still reluctant to use social media. The most common reason I hear for this hesitancy? Compliance. Yep, that wonderful regulatory requirement we have in financial services.

Yet it’s important to remember that compliance is not a barrier. It’s just a hurdle or a speed bump. With some 75 million Generation D (digital) investors, and their $27 trillion in assets, you just cannot ignore the social space.

It’s equally important to also remember that social selling is not about being popular. It’s about sales! Likes, friends, and connections are only worthwhile if they help you build your business.

So, how do you get past those compliance concerns? Start with baby steps. First, understand there are some simple and easy rules to follow. Second, use common sense! The same regulations and rules that apply to your other sales and marketing efforts also apply to the digital space.

To provide more specifics and examples, I recently broke out the Mastering Compliance unit from my Social Selling for Financial Advisors eCourse. In Mastering Compliance, I show you how to navigate the compliance waters by covering:

  • Rules and regulations
  • The difference between static and interactive content
  • Three rules you MUST obey, and
  • Online conduct rules and monitoring requirements

I know compliance is not something to be taken lightly. After some 25 years in the industry, the last 10 of which I have spent concentrating on the social space, I understand your pain! That’s why I’m also currently offering the Mastering Compliance unit at NO COST.

I want you to feel comfortable using the digital world for social selling. Then, even if all you do is maximize your LinkedIn profile, you will be heading in the right direction. Later, you can up your game and learn how to jump more fully into the digital conversation.

So, stop dabbling! Compliance and social selling can co-exist!

Top 10 Hashtag Best Practices

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Remember when twitter meant a bird’s song and a “#” was better known as a pound symbol? Barely, right? Today, twitter conjures up a blue bird company logo and its social media platform which boasts 302 million active monthly users who send 500 million tweets a day that often include a hashtag topic!

Yes, it was just back in 2006 when Twitter arrived on the social media platform scene, and a year later when hashtags redefined how we sort, promote and organize topics, content, products, events, and companies.

Today, hashtags also exist on other social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.  While many businesses were initially slow to embrace them, hashtags are now an integral part of nearly all business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing and communication vehicles.

Understandably, compliance concerns left advisors hesitant to embrace the activity at first, but now more firms are creating social media policies and using companies like Smarsh for archiving and supervising content.

Whether you are a seasoned social media user, a newbie, or someone in between, chances are you could use a rundown on the latest Top 10 Hashtag Best Practices:

  1. Use relevant hashtags. Just as we Google the web using keywords and phrases, social media users look up information by pairing a hashtag symbol and a topic (for example: #wealth or #financialliteracy). Don’t include hashtags just to draw attention to yourself; if your content is not applicable, you will alienate followers.
  2. Research hashtags before you include them. While some hashtags may seem straightforward and have a singular reference in your mind, a quick search my turn up some surprising results. For instance on Twitter, #myRA does indeed provide some posts on the new U.S. Treasury Roth program, but it also shows posts regarding people named Myra! While you may often see a content mix, you want the majority of the posts to cover the topic you are targeting.
  3. Create new hashtags with care. Using a unique-to-you hashtag for your advisory firm, product, or a special event is a great way to generate conversations with your followers. Just carefully consider all interpretations (with upper and lower cases, and a mix of both) to check for unintentional meanings or references. Also, don’t make it so unique or unusual that people cannot remember it.
  4. Use your unique-to-you hashtag on all social media sites when possible. Be consistent and gain traction with all your followers and clients.
  5. Monitor your hashtags. A hashtag on a public account is viewable by all users of that social media site, and you cannot control the use of the hashtag conversation.
  6. Not all hashtags are created equal. Not surprisingly, there is often a huge collection of hashtag posts for a given topic on Twitter, while you may only see a handful of hashtag posts for a topic on LinkedIn. Other social media sites tend to fall somewhere in between.
  7. Less is more. Don’t use more than two hashtags in your tweets; any more, and the tweets look like spam!
  8. Sometimes the best hashtag is no hashtag. In a call to action tweet, skip hashtags and use a URL link instead to avoid confusion and properly direct followers (usually to your website).
  9. Use hashtags to monitor topics, industries or groups. Most likely, you have a number of hashtag topics worth tracking. With Twitter, consider using Twilert to streamline and manage the flow of information. The paid service provides several tracking options (for both the number of topics and the alert frequency) starting at just $9 a month for five searches and hourly/daily alerts.
  10. Hashtags count. The 140-character limit for tweets includes hashtags, whether they are used in a sentence or as a separate topic identifier.

Hashtags are a convenient social media phenomenon. They help us converse, listen, promote, and research a myriad of subjects. Don’t be afraid to use them!

Develop, Define and Analyze Your Twitter Strategy

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For those of you who have heard me speak, you know I often counsel advisors in the financial services industry that the magic of digital marketing is content, contact and consistency. However, before you can go waving your wand and sprinkling magical marketing fairy dust everywhere in the wired world, you need an overarching plan and a strategy for each key component.

Take your Twitter activity for instance: does this marketing component have a stated purpose, a definition of success, and a way to measure your efforts?  Interestingly, Twitter recently launched an Audience Insights dashboard to help improve measurement. However, before we dive into the analysis phase, consider your strategic purpose, which may be multi-faceted and encompass the following:

  • Expanding your client base
  • Pointing more people to your website
  • Sharing your smarts to build customer trust and loyalty
  • Promoting a special event
  • Eliciting a call to action

Likewise, your may define you success on Twitter in multiple ways by considering increases in your number of:

  • Followers
  • People who read your tweets
  • People who re-tweet and/or carry on a conversation you initiate
  • Click through rates to your website or your call to action

To measure those success points, you can view your Followers dashboard (a feature Twitter added last year) for a quick breakdown, or use the new Twitter Audience Insights dashboard for a more in-depth analysis. The Followers dashboard includes your number of followers, along with a percentage breakdown on the following audience characteristics:

  • Interests (most and unique)
  • Location (country, state, city)
  • Gender
  • Who they follow

The new Audience Insights dashboard covers these same categories plus the percentage of your audience by:

  • Language
  • Lifestyle types
  • Buying style
  • Household Income
  • Net worth
  • Occupation
  • Wireless carrier
  • Education
  • Marital status

In addition, the dashboard lets you compare your audience insights with all Twitter users.

Visit your Tweet activity page (also launched last year) to see a breakdown on your tweets, tweets and replies, and promotions by:

  • Impressions (number of times users saw the tweet)
  • Engagements (includes clicks on the tweets, retweets, replies, follows, and favorites)
  • Engagement rate (engagements divided by the number of impressions)

Twitter is a valuable marketing tool. Make sure you develop, define and analyze your Twitter strategy within the context of your digital marketing ecosystem. No sense having that magical marketing dust going to waste!

LinkedIn Homepage Now more Reactive and Personal

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Apparently LinkedIn has heard the saying “no time to rest on your laurels”. The number one social media site for business professionals is now in the midst of rolling out an entirely new homepage design that is more reactive to your personal activity.

Launched in March, the updated interface makes “it easier to discover and interact with what matters most to you,” according to LinkedIn. Don’t worry if you don’t have the new design yet, LinkedIn is providing the new interface to its 347 million plus members in phases (and won’t grant requests for early access).

Website redesigns are pretty common these days as sites try to stay fresh and adapt to new technology changes and preferences (yes, I even redid my ShoeFitts Marketing website a few months ago).

The new LI website also reflects a more digestible magazine format with chunks of information in boxes, sidebars, and icon tabs. Since the site tracks your activity and adjusts accordingly, some of the information will change daily.

Here are the key modifications you can expect to see with the new homepage design:

Abbreviated profile – The top of the homepage now features a boxed area with your photo and the first few words of your headline. Make sure both your headline and summary statement are current, personal, and compelling. You can also vary what you see by adjusting the “This is what your profile looks like to” either yourself or the public.

Activity options – Just below the profile box are graphics and links to “Share an update”, “Upload a photo”, or “Publish a post”. You may also see “Your recent activity”, the (number) of “people who have viewed your profile in the past 90 days”, suggested (number) for “Grow your network” connections, “Your recent activity”, and/or your (number) “profile rank in the past 30 days”. “Your recently visited” information is now gone from the homepage.

Keep in touch – To the right of the profile box are suggested ways to maintain contact with current connections based on their recent activity and history. This section might show someone has a new job, work anniversary, or a new profile photo, and you have the option to “like”, “comment” or “skip” the suggestion. Once you act on, or skip all your connection suggestions, this area reverts to a “people you may know” box.

Notify your network? – This option is now on your homepage rather than buried in your settings so it’s easy to turn on or off. If you are making changes over several days or even a few hours, consider placing this in the “No” position until you are done so your connections don’t see every little nuance you change in your profile.

Reconnect with your colleagues – Here you’ll see some of your current contacts along with a “continue” button that looks for new connection possibilities by searching your email databases. Be careful with this feature as you want to carefully consider your connection requests and manage them one at a time rather than sending out a blanket broadcast.

Ads and Posts – Suggested ads are still off to the right and posts by your connections follow all the new profile suggestions and activity. However, posts are now in two columns, with a photo or logo on the left and the text on the right. This serves as yet another reminder to make sure your profile is professional as it now stands out more than ever when you create a post.

 

The LinkedIn changes are welcome and not surprising. More and more websites react to your activity and interests. Once you have the new homepage, see what you think of the changes, and then let me know your thoughts!

5 Steps to Creating Your 2015 Digital Marketing Plan

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The New Year is fast approaching, and as you make that last big push to book business, make sure you also finalize your 2015 digital marketing plan. The growing role of connective technology and marketing is not slowing down. If anything, the pace will only pick up in 2015.

While you might have been able to get away with a little digital marketing this year, you need to be ready with a rich offering and well-planned strategy going forward. So, just where do you start, and how? Take a few minutes to review these crucial steps to create your 2015 digital marketing plan:

  1. Goals—As mentioned in What are Your Social Media Goals?, clearly define your digital marketing goals within the context of your overall marketing plan. Be sure to also include an outline of your resource allocations, execution methods and evaluation guidelines.
  2. Map—A digital marketing plan is great, but it may fall flat unless you commit by mapping out a schedule. Force yourself to pick days or weeks when you will write blogs, send newsletters, post social media updates, and so forth. Include a reminder (or several), and work ahead when possible so you’re not always scrambling to meet deadlines.
  3. Delivery—Digital noise is deafening and the proper delivery is now incredibly important with marketing. The days of outbound marketing dumps are nearly a thing of the past. Today, you must think inbound. How do your customers want to receive information from you and how often? A traditional email, infographic, twitter post, or in person meeting?
  4. Engagement—Unlike many other marketing methods, digital marketing lets you carry on conversations with your customers. Your 2015 plan should include engagement activities to get people talking and sharing. If you read an interesting article try this method of engagement:
  • Share the news on your social media sites
  • Add your thoughts or insight
  • Ask others what they think
  • Ask your followers to comment, continue the conversation and pay attention to the responses (look for cues that might point to useful in-person follow-up opportunities)
  1. Action Items—While much of your digital marketing focus should center on giving rather than getting, be sure to include some action items that create leads and help you book business.

Don’t start the New Year with tired, old school thinking. Today’s connected world requires a strong digital marketing plan to be heard above the noise and meet the needs of your clients and prospects.

How do you Compete with Robo-Advisors?

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With today’s increased focus on digital marketing and automation technology, the continual push for better access to goods and services through the Internet is inevitable. Equally understandable is the growing role of robo-advisors in the financial services arena.

The term robo-advisor brings to mind the futuristic scenes from RoboCop and creates an ominous worry for traditional advisors. How real is the worry, and what can you, as a seasoned advisor, do about it? Plenty!

First, start by accepting and understanding the goodness associated with robo-advisors; chiefly, that more people now have access to the world of investing. Many of the robo-advisor customers are young professionals just getting starte who are attracted to the lower entry minimums, the 24/7 data access, low fee schedule, and the ease of investing. Note that an increased knowledge base now means more savvy investors in the future who could conceivably go beyond this starting point and reach out to financial plan advisors in the future.

Next, realize that you cannot compete on price with these online investment management sites. The fees and the overhead costs are lower. Period.

Instead, you need to recognize the technology aspects you can address, while also differentiating your strengths from the algorithmic portfolio models commonly used by a robo-advisor.

This means you cannot ignore digital marketing! The Internet is not the problem, just as robo-advisors are not the problem. In fact, there really isn’t a problem, merely opportunities.

Your website, blogs, social media presence, and email newsletters must be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Nearly everyone, from Millennials to Gen X to Baby Boomers, wants and expects a solid and rich online presence. If you don’t have one, you’re considered old school (not in a good way) and out of touch, and your abilities are questioned.

How can you be knowledgeable and up-to-date about the latest trends and investment strategies if your digital marketing is suspect? You cannot.

Just as importantly, that digital marketing must say something about your value-add. Pretty pictures and graphics may attract attention, but you won’t keep a customer’s interest for long if you don’t provide a give and showcase your industry knowledge.

Clients and prospects want to know why they should work with you now and in the future. What do you offer that they can’t get from a robo-advisor? What is it about your skills and background that make you special?

Your day-in and day-out relationships matter as well. Yes, an online presence is vital, but do you also take the time to get to know your customers? Do you understand their wants and needs? Do you know what keeps them up at night?

The bottom line is: How can you help your clients and prospects? What can you do for them that no other advisor, and certainly no robo-advisor, can provide?

Craft your value-add, your mission statement, and your give carefully and with your customer in mind, and you will put yourself way beyond the commonplace and futuristic competition.

LinkedIn Profile Essentials: Optimize for Business Success

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LinkedInWith over 300 million users, LinkedIn is a gold mine for busy professionals, but does your profile say you are networking and building business or looking for a new job? Don’t think there is a difference? Think again.

The personae you put forth on LinkedIn is critically important for establishing your value statement, your expertise, and your background. This is one of the first social media for business-to-business connections.

Indeed, LinkedIn is the most popular social media site for college-educated adults pocketing annual household income of $75,000 or more. Plus, it is the only social media site with more people aged 50-64 than aged 18-29.
So, how you project yourself matters! If your profile resembles a resume rather than a business outlook, you give viewers the impression you’re looking to jump ship and are not committed to your current job! Clearly, the last impression you want to make!

To create the right impression, first consider these key LinkedIn Profile essentials:

Headline – Provide a concise description to tell your why or value statement (120-character limit).

Summary – How and why did you arrive at your job/company? What makes you and your services special? How do you help your clients? Don’t go on an ego rant with irrelevant “wins”. Your clients and prospects want to know why they should do business with you instead of someone else.

Job Experience – Your roles and responsibilities are important, but only as they relate to your clients. Remember, you are not trying to sell a future employer, but show a client you have the skills and experience necessary to help them!
Media attachments – Visuals help break up the sea of text, so definitely add media attachments with SlideShare or other apps to offer added information or helpful infographics.

Don’t forget to consider your LinkedIn engagement and usage as well. Make sure you maintain a customer focus with the following:

Content – Offer your expertise on industry and company insights, and share articles and other posts with commentary to indicate the relevancy. Aim for a couple posts per week and schedule them in the morning when you are most likely to catch reader interest. However, don’t post just to post; quality is always paramount.

Links – Provide links to your company website and LinkedIn page. Be sure messaging is consistent across all channels so you don’t confuse your clients and prospects with mixed signals.

Connections – Build your network by considering clients, prospects and industry thought leaders. Use the Advanced search feature to find people by job keywords, title, company, or location. You can fine-tune possible connections even further with the additional search fields available with a premium membership.

Groups – Utilize LinkedIn Groups to join industry organizations and local business-oriented associations and chapters. Be a good listener first, and then engage with thoughtful commentary when you have something to offer. Also use Groups to grow your connections; be sure to pick the shared Group option when you send a connection request.

LinkedIn adds two new members every second! Make sure your giving those new and existing members the right impression.LinkedIn-in-logo-2-color-reverse-png

Find Your Balance on Social Media

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Sometimes using social media makes me feel like I’m back on one of those old grade school teeter-totters. I try hard to find the right balance by not favoring one end of the perspective over the other; my concern isn’t surprising since I always hated being suspended in the air when someone a little weightier sat on the opposite side!

Yet, finding your balance with social media is tricky. You might not get stuck up in the air, but one of your priorities could definitely get airborne if it’s neglected. The solution means recognizing this problem even exists, and then taking steps to address each balancing act.

Personal vs. Professional

We all like to think our personal and professional sides can remain separate. However, by its very nature, social media is social and sharable. Despite your best efforts to limit who sees what, you don’t have total control. Plus, your professional followers may find your personal posts, too.

With that in mind, you can’t be out on the far ends of this teeter-totter. You can have your personal posts—just don’t make them a polar extreme from your professional persona. People will find you on your personal and professional sites.

People like to do business with people they know, like and trust, so some shared personal information makes you more relatable. It’s okay to weave some personal ramblings into your professional posts, but don’t get carried away.

Giving vs. Getting

Successful financial services firms recognize social media requires giving more than getting most of the time. You’ll see your ROI, but this balancing maneuver requires a really long board and patience! You need to give lots and give regularly; make yourself a thought leader and an invaluable resource. The payoffs will come in time when you reap repeat business and obtain client referrals.

Curate vs. Create

Your social media posts can include an equal dose of content that you create and curate. Only you know your clients needs and their concerns, so penning (okay keying) a few original thoughts is important. However, your followers understand that you don’t always have time to write prosaic blogs. Plus, they can still realize the benefits of well-selected material that you pass along with a quick personalized spin. Just try to find a nice mix and don’t just forward or re-share anything and everything; be thoughtful and purposeful.

Quality vs. Quantity

Good, solid content is imperative for your social media channels. However, one or two wonderful posts or blogs a year is not enough. Your social media is an extension of your brand and your marketing; it must be sharp and it must be consistent.

Each year, and then again at the start of every month, I sit down and map out my social media priorities. I consider the blogs, podcasts, videos, and webinars I want to post and then budget my time accordingly. I may not get to absolutely every item, but I make sure to hit my key milestones with quality work.

Tweets vs. Posts vs. Blogs vs. Infographics and so on . . .

Okay, I never saw a teeter-totter that could juggle all the communication methods available now with social media, but I’m sure if one did exist it would be a crazy Dr. Seuss-looking contraption. The reality is balancing all your content formats can make you a little crazy!

However, I try to let the social flow of the site dictate my participation. For instance, I typically tweet five or six times a day, because it’s easy to share a quick thought or link. On Facebook, I post once or twice a day depending upon my activities; when I travel I tend to post more often than when I’m sitting in my office. Similarly, I sign onto LinkedIn a couple times a day; I read my news feeds, participant in groups when I really have something to add, and share content when I find good information. I typically only post longer content on LinkedIn once a week.

The social media teeter-totter is not perfect, and it can be a little wobbly at times. Just recognize the need to balance your efforts and make the most of your marketing and branding efforts, while taking the opportunity to connect with clients, prospects, thought leaders, family and friends.

Be Evergreen with Your Content to Save Time

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Quality content is vital for developing and communicating your brand on social media today. With educational and insightful posts you can help your clients and prospects by distinguishing your services, expertise, and knowledge. Yet, as a busy financial services professional you have a limited number of hours to work on your social media content.

To maximize your time you must create evergreen content, and then repurpose it. Now, this doesn’t mean copying everything you write on Facebook to LinkedIn. Instead, using evergreen content means following some basic planning and execution strategies to create longevity and multiple uses for your subject matter. Consider the following steps:

1. Create a topic list. In the financial services industry there are some key subjects you know your clients and prospects value. For example, if you’re a retirement plan advisor your employer followers probably care about how to pick a TPA, understanding ERISA, addressing the retirement needs for varying generations, and so on.

Make a list of your topic ideas and then consider subtopics. Take advantage of your vast knowledge base to make each of these subtopics a separate and distinct content item. You don’t have to spend hours researching each topic, just use what you know to cover each subject. Granted, you’ll want to stay abreast of industry changes, but those changes create additional opportunities for you to update or further illuminate a topic.

2. Consider your audience. As with your subject matter, list out your different audiences and target markets. While a specific topic may be vital to each group, your approach, tone and examples may vary among your followers.

You may not have to recreate an entire blog or post for each audience; instead only tweak the content a bit. Think of a politician on the campaign trail: they don’t create new speeches for every stop, they just tweak the opening and closing and keep the body the same!

3. Explore different content mediums. With today’s internet connectivity and various social media platforms, there are many ways to repurpose your content. With just one topic idea, you can share information using any or all of the following formats:

-Blogs

-Posts

-Tweets

-Newsletters

-Videos

-Whiteboard videos

-Audio podcasts

-Infographics

-Webinars

-E-books

4. Promote across channels. Remember to link your content between your various social media sites when possible and applicable.

5. Re-share popular topics. Sometimes your content may be so good, it’s worth sharing more than once. For instance, a blog you wrote a year ago might be worth linking to again on your social media sites. Provide one or two lines outlining why it is still relevant. Also remember you have new followers who haven’t seen your older posts. And existing followers might not have seen the original post—and if they did, they may value a second read-through.

Evergreen content is recycling at its best, plus it’s a time-saver. Make your content interesting and valuable, be creative with your positioning, and you can easily become a financial services industry thought leader without spending hours pounding out social media content every day!

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