Financial professionals and firms are increasingly trying to figure out how to leverage social media to support their business objectives. But many of them are going about it all wrong.
In their quest for a social media strategy that supports their business objectives, many firms and advisors focus too much on compliance and marketing messages and not enough on the very thing that drives online engagement – being social.
Here is the story of what can happen when a financial advisor really understands the power of community in social networks.
The rise of the social advisor
Katy Plesuk joined Sun Life Financial as an advisor in March of 2010. In August of that year, she signed up for a Twitter account.
“I can tell you without a shred of doubt that without Twitter, I would not be in this business today.”
A new advisor’s most important job is meeting people and building a network. Twitter provided Katy with the perfect vehicle to tap into her local, online community.
There, she built her network by using social media as a way to give to her community and help others – not by talking about financial planning, investing or insurance.
The many benefits of using Twitter effectively
On Twitter, Katy connected with some online business women and volunteered to help with planning and marketing a “Tweet-up” (an event where Twitter contacts meet up in person) on the topic of getting more women into politics. The event was attended by more than 250 people, including many prominent women political leaders, and received considerable media attention.
This event gave Katy an opportunity to raise awareness around an important issue, while strengthening her reputation and credibility in the community as someone who cares and contributes. She was also afforded an excellent opportunity to meet and develop relationships with key centers of influence.
As a result of the successful “Tweet-up”, Katy was approached through a Twitter direct message (note: not by a phone call or email) by the local TV station and asked to be on a panel during the Canadian federal election. She agreed.
This was a great opportunity to keep the issue of “women in politics” on the public agenda, while allowing Katy to increase her public profile as an engaging commentator. She received offers to participate in other TV panels after this. And she was found by two new clients who Googled her after seeing her on television.
Katy was then approached by a local parenting publication and agreed to be their financial columnist. Asked how they found her, the publication said they had “crowd-sourced” on Twitter and a number of people recommended her. Now, Katy has a platform to help families understand important financial concepts, while also increasing her credibility as subject matter expert among a key audience for her practice.
Through her online community-building, Katy has developed a network of complementary professionals and business service providers on Twitter. Her clients benefit from this network every time she refers them to a business professional that can help them solve a problem, eg., an accountant or a lawyer. But Katy also attracts other advisors who are online and interested in how her firm is enabling their advisors’ social media engagement.
To summarize, Katy’s use of Twitter has help her to:
- make a positive contribution to her community;
- build her profile and credibility;
- attract new clients;
- serve her clients better (through her network); and
- attract interest to her firm.
Practical social media lessons for professionals
Katy’s social media successes offer lessons for many practice professionals looking to leverage the power of social media, including these:
Be social – Focus first on building relationships with people and contributing something of value to the online community.
Be helpful – Look for opportunities to help people. When people are seeking help online to solve a problem, refer them or suggest where they might find a solution.
Be yourself – Give people a reason to know, like and trust you. Show them what you care about and how you think.
Have fun – Integrate social networking into the things you are already interested in and passionate about. Engage in a social way and have some fun with it.
Success in social networking is a by-product of the same behaviours that contribute to success in other networking situations. You don’t succeed by starting every conversation about you, the services you offer and how people can contact you. Instead, you show interest in others and make valuable contributions to the community.
By showing your network who you are and what you believe in, you give people a basis to know you, like you and trust you – and want to do business with you.
You can find Katy Plesuk on Twitter – @katyplesuk.