Social media is fast becoming an essential tool for accountants and financial advisers looking to grow their business. So how can you harness social media effectively and take your brand to the next level?
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According to a 2015 US study, 81% of financial advisers surveyed now use social media for business. Of those users, 79% also gained new clients via social media last year — up from 66% in 2014.1
Social media can introduce you to new clients who may not have otherwise heard of you and your firm. It also keeps you front of mind for existing clients and encourages them to refer friends, family and colleagues. In turn, these potential clients are also likely to use social media to check out your credentials before they make contact, so it’s important to make a good impression.
If you’ve started building your online presence by updating your website, creating your LinkedIn profile and listing your business in an online directory, you’re ready to step things up by becoming active on social media. Here’s how to get started.
Expand your network
If you’re new to social media, putting yourself out there for the world to see can seem daunting at first, but don’t be put off. Australia now has 15 million social media users2, which shows just how essential social media is for modern communication — and what a powerful tool it can be for promoting your business.
Be sure to connect with as many clients, colleagues and industry peers as you can on LinkedIn. You should also join relevant LinkedIn groups and follow influential people from across your industry and beyond. Log in regularly to see if there’s anyone else you should connect with via the People You May Know tab.
Get your team on board
Don’t block your staff from using social media during work time. Instead, you can tap into each of their social networks to help build brand awareness for your firm. But first, make sure you have a social media policy in place, and get all your employees to agree to it. At a minimum, your policy should clearly explain what is considered acceptable use of social media, as well as highlighting any potential privacy and reputational risks that could arise from misuse.
As well as your personal LinkedIn profile, create a company profile for your firm. Encourage each of your team members to have their own profile that links to your company profile. That way, whenever one of your employees posts an update or makes a new connection, they’re also promoting your business.
By posting blogs and sharing content online, you can demonstrate your expertise as an advisory specialist to a wide audience. As a social media user you’re also part of an online community, so be sure to reply to messages you receive, join conversations (using relevant hashtags) and thank other users for commenting, sharing or retweeting your posts.
Remember, using social media isn’t a competition; it’s about connecting with others and sharing information in a community-minded way. If you do it well, your social network will grow rapidly — and your professional reputation will grow along with it.
5 tips for posting and sharing
- Know your audience. Since you talk to your clients every day, you understand their interests and concerns. So before you post or tweet, ask yourself ‘Would my audience find this interesting or useful and does it bring value to the conversation?’ To keep your audience interested, make sure you post on a variety of topics.
- Post consistently. Make it part of your routine to post regularly, but don’t let social media take over your work day. It’s also important to be consistent — some new users start off strong and post daily but then quickly drop down to one post a month or less, whereas they’d be better off posting once a week and sticking with what is manageable.
- Be authentic. Always use your own voice when you post. If you’re sharing someone else’s content, say be sure to include why it’s interesting or important to you.
- Use your judgement. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t say it online. Avoid religion, politics and jokes as you could end up alienating your audience without meaning to. And, definitely don’t share general financial advice.
- Amplify. If you write a blog post or news update for your website, make sure you share it across all your social media platforms as well. This will help give your unique content as wide a reach as possible and drive more traffic to your website.
1 Survey of Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media, Putnam Investments, 2015.
2 Australia Digital 2016, We Are Social, June 2016.