Social media and social networks are an integral part of a business online marketing strategy, however to rely solely on a channel like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter is putting your strategy at risk. You’re only renting space on these platforms.

    Instead use these social networks to direct people to your website, which is the key focus of your marketing activities. People don’t hang out on your website, people are hanging out on social networks, but you need to be able to engage with them and then take them to your site.   Here you can really show your value and remember, it’s the only part of the web that you own and control.

    There are a number of ways to improve your website and you can learn more about the various strategies here and here (links to previous Illuminate articles). There are a variety of factors that make for a great website and a good starting point is to consider the following 10 categories: SEO, usability, mobile performance, browser compatibility, analytics, performance, security, appearance, content and functionality.

    Today I’d like to focus on content; creating content is the most important – but also hardest – aspect of your marketing and social media strategy. You weren’t born journalists and have very busy day jobs so finding time to think and write blogs or articles, to create regular, decent content can be quite an impossible task. Here are some key issues and tips on how to get more engagement on your website through your content:

    1) If you haven’t got time to write, hire someone!

    I understand how hard it can be to find the time to sit down and write. But if you decide this is important enough for your firm to do, you could work with a journalist or writer who can write for you. You can have a phone conversation and share your thoughts with them in a time-manageable way and then they can write the content afterwards taking into account your tone and style. If you do that, consider weighing up the costs.

    If you go for a lower-paid journalist with less experience it may cost less but bear in mind you will spend more time with them to establish your tone of voice and areas of expertise. If you work with a higher-paid financial journalist you will save time because they will know what they’re doing, understand the industry and can write in an engaging way directed at consumers and your target audience.

    2) Be wary of buying white-label ‘ready to go’ articles

    There are many financial advice firms that buy standard copy on various industry issues that hundreds of their peers also buy and all share on their websites.

    The fact that it is not unique means it’s cost-effective but also means it’s not effective with search engines; Google will know it is duplicate content and effectively give you minus points on your website for it. As a result you will appear lower down in terms of search results.

    Be realistic and understand the difference between cheap, fast and good – you can’t have all three. Also bear in mind your website should be a reflection of you and your online tone and personality. The experience online should reflect and correspond with the real you and your business. If you use ‘ready to go’ copy like this, make sure you’ve read it and know when it’s being published; worst thing if a client brings it up during a conversation and you don’t know what they’re talking about!

    As a side note, some firms who use these articles then publish them with a standard ‘admin’ byline. Anyone who creates their own content wants to put their name on it because it’s hard work and they’re proud of it. When you see ‘admin’ as the author there’s no personality to it and makes people less inclined to read it.

    I get that many of you still want to use these types of articles to inform existing clients, but I’d say if they’re existing clients you have their contact details and should consider sending it in a newsletter instead.

    3) Establish a social media professional connection

    Financial advisers love establishing professional connections with lawyers or accountants as a good source of steady client referrals, and the logic behind this also works for sharing content and developing the number of people engaging with your website.

    Think about who else is influential in your local area – they might be professional connections you have already established – and see what their online presence is like. See if you can build an online relationship with them so they share your content and double the number of people who read your articles.

    People will believe much more what other people say about you; if a third party is a known and trusted source, they will be more likely to trust you.

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