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Social networking sites are an essential way to establish financial adviser brands online

More than two thirds of people in the UK now use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, making them one of the best ways for financial service businesses to communicate with their clients.

Social networking sites are an essential way to establish your brand online and get in front of prospective clients you want to communicate with.

People tend to overcomplicate social media but, put simply, sites like Twitter and Facebook facilitate conversations and relationships like any other method of real-life networking – except that they are online and the reach is much wider.

Invite client feedback

To really get the most out of social media, you need to know exactly who your clients are, how to find them and what you want to say to them.

You’ve got to think through your objectives. Are you looking to raise general brand awareness, achieve something specific like educating clients about a particular topic, or inviting client feedback?

Or, you might be thinking about how to reduce the number of client service phone calls you receive. By setting up a facility on Twitter, for instance, you could invite clients to send in queries that way.

Establish your business as a credible brand

Crucially, it’s not about going in with a pushy sales agenda. Sites typically work by building up relationships between you and your audience, so it’s more about establishing your business as a credible brand or your expertise in the financial services sector.

Write an informed blog and add regular comments. If people find it useful, they’ll recommend you, and you therefore build up your profile.

So how can a financial advisory firm get started? First, building a successful online presence is no different to any other marketing activity, so it’s important to plan your approach and work out your objectives before diving in.

Connecting with your clients

Equally, you need to identify which social networking site is right for your market. Sites like LinkedIn are more business-focused than Facebook or Twitter.

Searching for specific keywords and phrases linked to your business will also help you decide where your business should be most visible. If you find lots of groups talking about the financial services industry on Facebook, for instance, it’s worthwhile signing up.

Tools like Tweetdeck, which is free, will monitor references on Twitter and Facebook for you, or, if your audience is very wide, you could employ a social media agency to do the job.

Influence what people are saying

While you don’t have to be on every site, it’s still advisable to monitor your brand regularly. Lastly, once you’ve signed up to the social networking community, the golden rule is to be proactive. Update your status regularly, keep your blog fresh and make sure you’re getting involved. Otherwise, you won’t be able to influence what people are saying about you and your business. You can’t necessarily control the content, but you can manage it effectively.

Paul Bearman, Senior Editor, Goldmine Media

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