Martin Bamford describes the benefits to advisers of harnessing social media and highlights the three content channels to prioritise.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, but just in case you haven’t, the world has changed. Compared to 20,10 or even five years ago, the way in which advisers need to market their businesses is dramatically different today. Looking back a decade, who could have imagined how social media might influence our lives; our buying decisions, the way in which we carry out research, even the way in which we share the experience of watching television. We’re all connected now.
As financial advisers, this creates massive opportunities, not only to engage with more prospective clients, but to better service our existing clients. I could write about the merits of twitter versus Facebook, or how to ensure your LinkedIn profile is the top search result for ‘financial planner in Wilmslow who likes cats’, but first I believe you have to have three key content channels in place before you get active on social media.
“Blogging allows you to voice your own opinions and to showcase your understanding of the most important matters in the world of financial planning and investing.”
This is nothing more complex than a regularly updated website where you write and publish a short article. By writing on a regular basis about topical subjects, you get to highlight your expertise and encourage more website visitors because regular blogging is excellent for search engine optimisation. Blogging also creates an opportunity for you to develop your writing style and it can make you a more effective communicator.
Blogging gives you something valuable to share on social media. It allows you to voice your own opinions and to showcase your understanding of the most important matters in the world of financial planning and investing.
Establishing a blog is as simple as registering a free blogging account with blogger.com or wordpress.com. Another site to consider using is medium.com, which promotes the most popular blogs and makes them more visible. If you want more control over branding and integration with your existing website, Wordpress also offers a content management system which is free. Simply ask a competent website designer to add Wordpress to your existing website or build you a new one from scratch based on Wordpress. And then start writing.
Once you’ve cracked blogging – something it might take you a couple of years of consistent writing to achieve – you should look at what video has to offer. The barriers to creating and distributing broadcast standard video have fallen away to virtually nothing. After Google, YouTube is the most searched website there is, which highlights how important video has become. We not only consume online video through our PCs, phones and tablets, but now through our televisions.
Getting started in video is pretty simple; you probably have an HD video camera in your pocket as you read this. If you’re not the proud owner of a smartphone, then a DSLR camera or digital camcorder can also get the job done. Pop it on a tripod, face the camera and start talking. I would advise keeping your videos short (online viewers have shorter attention spans) and just start putting content out there.
I’m genuinely excited about the potential for podcasting, as it offers a unique opportunity to get into the head of your listener on an uninterrupted basis for an extended period of time. We might all be leading much busier lives today, but these tend to include a lot of ‘dead time’; commuting to work, walking the dog, working out at the gym. Even new cars have ipod links as standard.
To get started in podcasting, take a look through the iTunes store and listen to a few. Establish what you like and don’t like about the most popular podcasts and develop your own format based on that. You’ll need a podcasting account with a provider like Libsyn, who charge from $5 a month. A freelancer network like Fiverr.com will sort out your iTunes artwork, and you can record your podcast using a Skype headset or the microphone on your iPhone.
With a blog, video channel and podcast in place, you can get more out of social media and share your own content, rather than relying on what others have created.