I'll share what those three things are in just a moment, but first it’s important to define ‘great results’ – the assumption being that Social Media is always a sales or marketing activity designed to attract new clients.
“Why else would you use Social Media then?”
...asked one attendee at a recent workshop.
It’s a fair question, so I've listed out the best outcomes that IFAs, financial planners and financial advisers can expect to see from their use of Social Media. As you read through them, check off the outcomes that you think could benefit your own business:
1. They get many more visits to their website
2. They are able to improve their search engine rankings
3. Prospects can build a better picture of an adviser by seeing beyond just what he or she put on their website
4. They are able to reinforce themselves as authoritative and credible in (say) pensions, investment and other areas of personal financial planning
5. They strengthen their reputation for trustworthiness
6. They have a great way to engage with professional connections and centres of influence
7. They strengthen their profile in their local community
8. Press and media come to them for expert opinion, which gives them additional visibility online and which enhances the perception of them as having expertise in personal finance
9. They are able to engage with clients beyond meetings, newsletters and reviews – including being able to cement recently made relationships with new clients
10. They are first to spot opportunities to help individuals and companies that need their help
11. They are quick to discover local events where they can raise their profile
12. They find new opportunities to network with other people
13. They are able to improve their knowledge by listening to other experts and thought leaders
14. They are able to learn best practice from other advisers around the world
15. They are able to get new ideas and make improvements to their business by listening to business development experts
16. They are able to give their business a human face beyond traditional face-to-face relationships
17. They are able to add another level of ‘wow’ to their customer service proposition
18. They are able to build Community around their clients
19. They are able to educate people on personal finance
20. They are able to attract people to join their newsletter list
21. They are able to decrease their marketing costs
22. They are able to promote specific initiatives that go beyond the giving of financial advice – e.g. education, local sponsorship, public speaking etc.
23. They are able to humanise a topic (financial advice/planning) which disenfranchises some people and which others distrust
24. They are able to build ‘buzz’ around their business
25. They improve brand equity
26. They are able to significantly expand the reach of their promotions when hosting seminars and events
27. They are able to give clients another way to talk to them
28. They attract Internet-savvy staff to their practice
29. They improve staff motivation and engagement
30. They enrich their client experiences
31. They gain greater insights into the things clients care about – beyond what they’ve been told in a fact find meeting
32. They are able to observe their competitors
33. They look busy, vibrant and active
34. They are able to reinforce the ‘tone of voice’ of their business – e.g. fun, serious, professional etc.
35. They are able to find and listen to niche markets in which they have expertise
36. People who are referred to an adviser by an existing client have another way to 'check you out'
37. They add a new service and communication methodology to their proposition
38. They attract new clients
Now, to the sceptic IFA or financial adviser, if I was getting even five or six of these results I would be thinking that Social Media is time well spent. But I hope you noticed that I left until last the result which the overwhelming majority of advisers think is the reason for using Social Media – to attract new clients.
The truth is that very few financial advisers actually attract new clients directly through Social Media, and that’s because the overwhelming majority don’t really understand why they are using Social Media. In short, they don’t have a plan.
Yes, you'll pick up one or two enquiries, but that will almost always be by accident rather than design, but when you have a plan and a process the results can be startling.
For example, one financial planner told me that in 2015 he attracted clients that paid him £100,000 in fees purely through his use of LinkedIn. Others have told me that they attracted new clients through LinkedIn the very first time they used online networking techniques which I teach.
In both these examples, the financial advisers concerned followed a step-by-step process which I teach in my training and consultancy sessions.
The truth about Social Media for financial advisers is that it is a tool to support your business processes – to do some things more efficiently, some things much faster, to complement other activities and to do some things with greater efficiency and adeptness. In short, it helps you to do many of the things you do in your business – better.
For that reason, financial advisers should look at their Social Media profiles as assets of their business – particularly LinkedIn. And like any asset or tool that you use in your business, when you learn how to use it properly, only then will you see real benefits. For example, providers of back office or CRM systems will tell you that proper training is essential if you are to get the best out of the systems. Sounds like common-sense, but the same goes for using LinkedIn – take some time to get properly trained, and when you do you will see the site in a completely different light.
So we’ve defined ‘great results’ and what’s noticeable about the advisers who succeed with Social Media is that they have a clear sense of what they want to achieve with it and then focus on that. In other words they have a plan.
Over the last six months we’ve asked five hundred financial advice firms if they have a documented Social Media plan and to our amazement not one single one of them had.
However when you find advice firms that are using Social Media and seeing success with it, the majority have a plan – or at the very least a clear view of what they want to achieve by using it. And “Attract new clients” is almost never the primary goal.
“Doing what they already do, but better” is a key goal of the most successful financial advice firms around the world and Social Media is just one tool which helps them to be better. And when people and businesses invest in themselves, they invariable attract more clients – and better ones at that.
Three things that financial advisers who are successful with Social Media have in common
So the first thing they have in common is:
They want to be better at what they do as a financial advice business – greater professionalism, more robust processes, better customer service and so on. What financial adviser wouldn't want that?
The second thing is that they know why they are using Social Media, and they have a clear plan for how they will use it. For most financial advice firms, Social Media will be one of the most powerful tools they will ever find to attract more website visits, and one financial planning firm I work with saw website visits increase by 2,400% in just seven days – with ‘increasing website visits’ being at the centre of their plan. My point - they got the increase in website visits because they planned it.
The third thing financial advisers who see success with Social Media have in common, is that having committed to using Social Media as a tool within their business, they use it a lot. In fact they use it a lot more than advisory businesses that are less successful.
Let’s look at some numbers from the US to highlight this.
According to a 2015 survey in the United States by WealthVest, advisers generating in excess of $1m in annual revenue use Social Media Marketing over 40% more than their lower performing peers.
It’s worth adding quickly that these figures come from the US, where the financial advice industry has been considerably more cautious about Social Media – far more so than in the UK.
The report goes on to say that among advisers who characterised their use of Social Media as ‘extensive’, more than 70% reported an increase in assets under management or revenue due to Social Media Marketing. Even among the ‘dabblers’, 40% reported an increase due to Social Media.
The story was similar when advisers were asked about the impact of Social Media on their ability to attract clients. Overall about two out of ten financial professionals reported that Social Media had helped expand their client base by 10% or more during 2014. Whilst amongst ‘extensive’ users, six in ten reported a similar increase in clients.
When engaging clients through Social Media, 66% of high-income earning advisers said their primary goals were to improve their professional brands, while 53% said they wanted to share relevant news and content with clients. Forty-seven percent said Social Media also helped them generate new prospects and leads, while 44% said it helped them network with professional peers. Forty-four percent also said it helps them access expert commentary and news, while 16% said it helps them to reduce marketing expenses.
So to sum up those outcomes:
• Increase the size of their client base
• Increase in assets under management or revenue
• Improve their professional brands
• Share relevant news and content with clients
• Generate new prospects and leads
• Network with professional peers
• Access expert commentary and news
• Reduce marketing expenses
At any level, these are extremely positive outcomes, and can in themselves form the basis of a compelling Social Media strategy for financial advisers both amongst large and small firms. Whilst good results were seen across all advisers, what’s interesting to note is the following:
• higher performing advisers are using Social Media 40% more than their lower performing peers
• advisers who describe their use of Social Media as ‘extensive’ report greater assets under management
‘Immediate’ results within the first twelve months
Almost one-third of million-dollar advisers saw results immediately after engaging clients and prospects via Social Media, and 56% realised benefits within the first 12 months. That’s a significantly better result than experienced by the group as a whole, where just 20% of all financial representatives who participated in the survey reported immediate results - although 58% realised positive outcomes within the first year.
In summary, the study suggests that the more active a financial adviser is with Social Media, the greater the benefit is to his or her practice in terms of attracting new clients, increasing assets under management and improving revenue streams.
Not surprisingly, the majority (70%) of high-income earners participating in the survey intend to further increase their Social Media activity in the future.
I think it’s also important to highlight that financial advisers in the US were a lot slower off the mark to use Social Media than their colleagues in the UK, and even now Compliance is a lot tougher than in the UK. So UK advisers have some catching up to do!
Here's why this matters...
‘Success’ with Social Media is how you the adviser define it; what I’ve done is to highlight that ‘attracting new clients’ is a by-product of working to make your business better for you and for your existing clients. Social Media merely helps support those business development initiatives.
I’ve talked about the importance of advisers having a clear plan, and that hardly any actually have one. And of those that know they need to have one, most don’t know where to start.
So we decided to take the bull by the horns.
Since 2004 we’ve been working with IFAs and financial advisers to help them make better use of Social Media within their businesses. And after spending time with many hundreds of advisers in person and at workshops, we’ve identified several key themes (nineteen altogether) which they told us are holding them back from seeing greater returns from their use of Social Media.
The top six are these:
1. Not having a clear understanding of what they could achieve with Social Media, and consequently...
2. ...Not having a clear plan
3. Not knowing what to post about on Social Media (and how Compliance will respond to it)
4. Not having sufficient time to do it justice
5. Not knowing which Social Media tools to use
6. Concern that their reputation might suffer if they do something wrong
So we’ve developed a unique Social Media Planning Tool for advisers and IFAs to use which will help them to:
• Kick-start their Social Media strategy
• Identify key goals within their financial advice business which can be supported by using Social Media
• Identify the Social Media tools and techniques which are right for your business
• Identify the right type of content to reach the right type of clients
• Identify when and how often to post on Social Media
• And much more
Our planning tool is new, exciting and revolutionary amongst the financial advice community and will literally kick-start Social Media Best Practice within your business.
It's the exact same planning tool that I use in one-to-one consultancy sessions with private clients, and is central to creating a Social Media plan that is totally bespoke to their businesses. Plus you also get a specimen 'value-based' Social Media plan which you can adapt to your own financial advice business.
If all this did was to improve the attractiveness and quality of your business and enhance the value you add to your clients, would it be worth it?
If all this did was to remove the anxiety and overwhelm that financial advisers experience when considering Social Media in their businesses, would it be worth it?
The total value of all this will be worth thousands to your business because it's proven to work. To purchase the planning tool on its own would normally cost $264, but I'm not going to charge you $264, I'm only going to charge you $67.
I'm also going to take on all the risk, and give you my guarantee that my planning tool will transform your approach to using Social Media. But you must act now because this offer won't be around for long.
Just imagine how more confident your financial advice business will look online with a compelling and professionally planned Social Media presence.
So click on the button below right now, and you'll be taken to a secure order form. After you put in your credit card information, your planning tool will be emailed to you immediately, even if it's 2:00 am!
Other financial advisers have already downloaded their Social Media planning tool and are ahead of the crowd. Make sure you join them.
Social Media is not something 'extra' that you do in your business because someone told you it could attract new clients. If you want a better business with happier clients, you should look at your Social Media profiles as part of your business assets, and you should look at the use of Social Media as part of what you do to create and build a better business and to massively enhance your client experience.
PS It's not for everyone, but if you believe that Social Media can play even the smallest part in how your financial advice business presents itself online, you should get your planner now >>