Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more. Which social media is right for your financial marketing strategy?
Financial advisers often ask us this question here at MarketingAdviser, and there isn’t a universal answer. What works for one business might not work for you, and vice versa.
There are three important things to establish from the outset regarding social media for IFAs:
- Don’t just follow the crowd. If your competitors are neglecting social media that does not mean it is unimportant for your business. On the other hand, just because everyone else is active on Twitter, Facebook or another platform doesn’t mean that’s what you should also be doing.
- Social media activity does not equal results. It’s possible to be tremendously active on social media and have lots of followers, but see this activity produce few conversions, enquiries or stronger client relationships. It’s easy to get swept up in “vanity metrics” (e.g. increasing numbers of fans) and to forget about the metrics which really matter.
- Don’t assume anything. It might be tempting to write off social media as irrelevant to your client base or your target market as a financial adviser, thinking: “That’s for the younger generations and they’re not my target client.” You might be surprised when you drill down into the data showing how your audience behaves online and where they “hang out” in the digital sphere.
So, with those qualifications out of the way, what now?
Can you now just tell me which social media platforms are worthwhile, and which are not?
It is often tempting for us to want to simply jump to a simple answer and say: “Ignore X social media platform, but use Y”. But as you have probably guessed, things are not that straightforward.
It all depends on your distinct marketing strategy.
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn typically fall into the category of marketing “tactics”. If you jump straight to tactics without first establishing your strategy, then you are bound to end up wasting time and money.
Just as in sports, warfare and financial planning, your marketing needs a strong and appropriate strategy which plausibly outlines how you will achieve your objectives.
Once you have these things firmly established, you can then look at which/what kinds of marketing activity and platforms get you there.
Social media platforms as “rented spaces”
If you are looking for more brand exposure, client engagement and leads for your business, then it’s important to keep social media in perspective.
Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms are effectively “rented spaces” when it comes to marketing. In other words, you might think that your Facebook business page, its followers and posts all belong to you. However, these things actually belong to the social media platform – and these social media companies might change things either in your favour, or perhaps not.
A lot of businesses found this out the hard way when Facebook massively restricted how often organic posts from Facebook busines pages appeared in their followers’ news feeds.
In a short space of time, businesses which relied on free exposure and engagement from organic Facebook posts suddenly had to start paying to play.
We’re not trying to knock social media by telling you this. Far from it. In many cases, social media can be a tremendously powerful marketing tool for financial advisers to get their message out to their prospects, building strong relationships which help nurture them towards becoming a client.
However, you should be careful not to rely on any one social media channel to grow or sustain your business. If the algorithm suddenly changes, then your marketing and sales pipeline could suddenly find end up out in the cold.
This truth holds for all of the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Be careful not to rely on a single marketing channel. Ever.
That applies to all of your marketing, not just social media. You should be careful not just to rely on email marketing or referrals either. Make sure your marketing is “diversified”.
Social media & diversification
To “diversify” your marketing assets it can, therefore, be a good idea to use your social media channels to build up other assets such as your email list (which you are not “renting” – it “belongs” to you).
You can also encourage your followers on one social media platform to follow you on some of your other ones too. For instance, your Facebook followers could also be directed to your YouTube content and encouraged to subscribe there.
If you’re going to do this, however, then you need to think carefully about your content strategy and give people a good reason to subscribe to your newsletter, or other social media channel.
What will you be offering them through these channels which they would value, and which they cannot get from the existing channel which they are already subscribed to?
We realise that we have not specifically delved into the pros and cons of each social media platform for financial planners. That was deliberate.
The point we’re driving at is that it’s important to first take a big step back, to survey where your business is at present with its marketing and to establish where you want to go.
If you like the idea of diversifying your marketing channels, then be aware that you will need to plan how much time and resource you will need to put into managing more than one social media profile.
Two social profiles might be manageable for a small financial planning business (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn) by drawing on the help of an experienced financial marketing agency. More than that, however, and you are probably going to spread yourself too thin.