Okay, so I'm not about to argue that you need to fall in love with social media. There’s a lot to dislike about many of the platforms.

    However, now is the time to harness its power to grow your business.

    Why?

    Because we’re sociable creatures. That’s one of the reasons there’s been so much focus on our mental wellbeing during the lockdown period.

    During this time, social media has been and will be invaluable to keep in touch with friends, family and work colleagues.

    Indeed, research from India has shown that before the lockdown, people there used social media for an average of 150 minutes a day. During the first week of lockdown, that increased to 280 minutes.

    With a population of over 1.3 billion, that’s a lot of extra screen time, and there’s every reason to believe the rise will be replicated here in the UK.

    That extra time screen time means the opportunity to engage potential new clients on social media rises significantly.

    How do you take advantage of it?

    I know social media isn’t the natural home for many financial planners. I get that.

    As anyone who has read my previous articles for Illuminate knows, I have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn. But now’s the time to pivot towards social.  

    Remember too, many people using social media will still be nervous about their pensions, investments and financial future.

    Not everyone has the reassurance and confidence provided by financial planners. Indeed, some might feel their adviser has gone AWOL during the past few weeks.

    That combination of more time online, and financial anxiety, represents an opportunity to do some good and attract new clients over the next few weeks.

    As an aside, when I talk about ‘opportunity’ please don’t think I am in any way belittling the threat to us all from coronavirus.

    As a business owner who employs 22 people and has a son, and parents, who are in the high-risk group, I’m all too aware of the threat. I just believe there are always opportunities in every situation.

    So, that said, how can financial planners use social media to engage with potential new clients? Here are our top tips.

    1) Choose your platform carefully.

    Hang out online where your target clients do. That might not be your preferred platform, but you need to go to them. They won’t come to you. If you’re using Instagram to engage people about equity release, you’ll have a long wait!

    2) Be useful, helpful and sensitive.

    These are difficult times. Wetherspoons, Waterstones and Sports Direct have all shown how important decisions can turn into PR disasters.

    3) Create content.

    ‘Pay it forward’ by giving now in the form of useful content, and you will reap the rewards in the future.

    That content might be a guide, checklist or blog. The key thing is it needs to be useful. Inform, rather than sell, and your audience will be grateful.

    4) Engage with adverts.

    It’s rare for a financial planner to already have a large social media following. That’s where advertising comes in.

    The combination of great content, a compelling advert and the ability to control who sees it is powerful.

    Your aim is to get your content into the hands of potential clients while collecting their contact details, which can then (with consent) be used to follow up with more equally useful content.

    5) Don’t post financial promotions.

    No one likes to be sold to and the compliance will be onerous.

    Instead, be guided by those three words; useful, helpful and sensitive and you won’t go far wrong.

    6) Nurture people until they’re ready to engage.

    If you’ve set your campaigns up correctly, you'll get the contact details of people who download your content. So, what next?

    Now isn’t the time to sell. Instead be helpful and useful, demonstrating your knowledge while adding value.

    That might mean sending additional blogs/guides or pointing them to useful content elsewhere.

    People will be grateful that you tried to help and not sell, and, when the time is right for them to seek professional advice, it’s you who they will remember and turn to.

    I firmly believe that how we act as business owners in the coming weeks correlates to the business we will have in five years.

    So, seize the moment and get on the front foot. Produce content (or get someone to do it for you) and then use social media to put it in the right people’s hands. Sure, it’s hard work, but the opportunity is worth it.

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