How Older Generations Are Using Social Media and What This Means For Advisors

Do you know what the fastest growing demographic is on Twitter? The answer will surprise you.  The fastest growing demographic is the 55-64 year age bracket, which has grown 79% since 2012.

Are you reaching the fastest growing demographic online?

Social media is everywhere, and it is growing in all demographics. Some social network sites have user bases larger than the populations of most world countries. People are increasingly basing their purchase decisions around a business or individual’s online presence. The growth of older generations using social media has been staggering over the past three years. In fact, the 50 and over age group is the fastest growing demographic online, and constitutes a majority of the online consumer population.

This Infographic from Accredited Online Colleges looks at the Internet and social media usage amongst the older generations:

So, what does this mean for financial and insurance advisors?

It is easy to overlook the importance of Social Media in an industry such as Finance or Insurance however; everything we know about Social Media applies to these industries as well. Your clients and prospects are online and they are searching for news and helpful information. Social Media is an excellent and effective channel to engage with these prospects, build trust and position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. Share tips, discuss recent news, offer advice, and expand your reach online through sharing helpful content.

Investors often picked Advisors based on trust and the ability to build relationships . Think about it this way. Who would you trust more? The Advisor who is open about their business and expertise on Social Media, discussing industry updates, insights and advice. Or an Advisor, without a website or with a website that only publishes the services they provide and contact information.  The older generations have the most spending power, of any group, so it is important that they are being reached through the channels that they are using to make their buying decisions.

Social Media has become an essential part of the lives of millions of people around the world, and is a powerful platform to reach all demographics. Social  networking sites have created the context and platforms for financial conversations and information sharing to take place.  Used in the wrong way, Social Media can also have a negative impact on your business and brand. Check out the most common social media mistakes by Advisors here.

 

The FInancial and Insurance Advisor's Guide to Blogging

Social Media Considerations for Advisors: YouTube

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YouTube, owned by Google, is a free video-sharing social networking website developed in 2005. YouTube allows users to upload, watch and share originally created videos. Anybody can watch and share videos on YouTube but to access additional features a person must register for an account. YouTube users can communicate with each other through comments, responses, shares, and private messages.

YouTube Demographics & Statistics:

YouTube Demographics

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month (YouTube.com)
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth (YouTube.com)
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (YouTube.com)
  • Reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network (YouTube.com)
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year (YouTube.com)

Financial and Insurance Advisors are always looking for new and more effective ways to communicate with current and prospective clients. Video can be a highly effective medium that can allow you to create engaging content that reaches the masses. But can it be an effective medium for Financial and Insurance Advisors?  You may be asking yourself, how, as a Financial and Insurance Advisor could I use YouTube?

Advisors and YouTube

There is no question that online video is soaring.  In fact, 60% of baby boomers and 40% of seniors consider watching online video on sites like YouTube an important part of their day.  75% of boomers and 68% of seniors report calling or visiting a business or organization as a result of seeing a particular online video.

Many people are looking for a quick and easy way to consume information without having to read a lengthy article. If you are an Advisor that is constantly creating original content and sharing your knowledge, but aren’t big on writing or creating blog posts, creating videos could be a great way to demonstrate who you are, profile your services and attach some personality to your brand.

Establish trust, transparency and an authentic voice

YouTube videos can provide you with a medium to show your clients and prospects who you are, and allow you to establish a trustworthy, transparent and authentic voice. Videos could be used to provide your prospects with useful information and great content. Producing useful, engaging and relevant content via video can help to send the message to your target market that you know what you are talking about. As an Advisor, YouTube videos can also be used to tell your unique story, vision and philosophy to help build a connection with your prospect.

Search Engine Optimization

YouTube is a Google product, owner of 75% of the search market share. Search engines and Google generally love video and reward its own users in their search engine. Uploading videos on this platform can be a good way to help your business’ visibility in Google’s organic search results. Videos are also said to be 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than text pages.

Publishing Videos to Social Channels

YouTube videos can also be embedded or featured on your website, blog or to any of your social networking sites to help increase traffic and brand awareness.

YouTube videos can be used as an effective way to enhance current and prospective clients communications, however, this is not to say that YouTube can replace text all together. As many marketers have experienced, combining multiple channels is exponentially more effective than using them as standalone campaigns. Motivating consumers to connect with your business in more than one way strengthens brand association and motivates valuable engagement.

Infographic: The Growth of Social Media in 2014 for Financial and Insurance Advisors

As social media continues to grow, the idea that social media is just a trend or fad is no longer viable as more and more demographics, and more and more industries are moving towards using it on a daily basis. Businesses are increasingly looking to social media to spread their message, make sales and collect prospects information. It has quickly become a part of businesses communication plans.  More baby boomers, seniors, executives and affluent consumers are using social media then ever, and they are engaged, sharing and looking for information. In fact, 70% of millionaires have profiles on one or more platforms.

With a business that is fuelled by networking, Financial and Insurance Advisors are increasingly integrating social media as a core element of their marketing efforts.   It has moved from early adoption to mainstream, for prospecting strategies, in the industry.  Facing a competitive disadvantage by being left behind by early adopters, Advisors are becoming inclined to improve their understanding of how to best implement social networks in their business.

Below is an excellent Infographic for Financial and Insurance Advisors, from Search Engine Journal, that provides a visual of social media statistics, and growth.  The Infographic includes data indicating that 72% of all Internet Users are also social media users.

Social Media Growth 2014

The FInancial and Insurance Advisor's Guide to Blogging

Social Media Considerations for Advisors: Google+

In this series of articles, we will look into the most popular social media platforms and provide some key considerations as it pertains to Financial and Insurance Advisors.  This article will focus on Google+.

Launched in June 2011, Google+ is a social networking site that is owned and operated by Google Inc. With more than 540 million users, Google+ sees its number of users increase daily. Curiously enough, Google+ seems to be one of the most frequently neglected by Advisors. If you are unfamiliar with Google+ and its background and features, get to know Google+ by checking out this article before reading on.

So, how does Google+ relate to Financial and Insurance Advisors? Let’s look into some key considerations to take into account when you’re deciding whether to embrace Google+ as part of your social media strategy.

Demographics of Google+:

  • 369 million active users
  • 67% males
  • 25-34 are the most active demographic on Google+
  • Tends to be used by professionals
  • Users tend to work in the engineering, software and design industries

The Concept of Circles

Google+ allows you to post videos, links, pictures and text content, however, introduces the new concept of Circles. Google+ connections are placed into circles, which are similar to mailing lists. For Advisors, one of the most significant benefits is the ability to segment audiences into these circles. Google+ allows you to break up your audience into circles so that content can be targeted toward those who would be interested in it. For example, Advisors could create a circle for current clients, and a circle for prospective clients. Circles make content sharing among like-minded people and organizations easy.  This means you can use circles to closely target your messaging.

Communities

Google+ allows you to create, or participate in, focused groups called ”communities”, of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest. Joining these communities could be an excellent way to raise awareness for your business and help to nurture relationships in the industry. You can also create communities to help in knowledge sharing, or based on shared interests.

Search Engine Optimization

It is important to remember that Google+ is Google, the largest search engine in the world. Search Engine Optimization is all about getting your website found by prospects, and Google owns 75% of the market share when it comes to search. Although Google+ is a social networking website, it also integrates with the entire Google network and is said to carry significant weight in terms of Search Engine Optimization and organic search visibility.

As Hubspot points out, Google is eager to provide plenty of incentives for people to actively use Google+, and has tied the platform very closely to all of its Google Search features.  Google rewards its own users in their search engine. Bottom line, Google+ can help to increase your business’ visibility in Google’s organic search results; therefore increasing the likelihood of potential customers finding you.

Google+Local

Google+Local is an important part of Google+ and focuses specifically on businesses and their locations. These pages are similar to Facebook business pages, but include many more features geared to help businesses connect with local prospects on a social level.  Google+Local pages are indexed in Google’s searches. Using this feature will not only improve your business’ SEO, but will increase online visibility by providing prospects with a link to your website, contact information, services offered, travel directions, customer reviews and recent Google+ posts.

Content Sharing

Google+ is ideal for content sharing not only because of the Circles feature, but also in terms of SEO. Google+ posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately. Google Search treats Google+ pages just like regular websites, so they have PageRank and can be just as powerful as other websites in terms of search engine ranking. You should start noticing your content showing up more in Google searches when you share it on Google+. Google+ content can rank in search results in instances where your website may not.

Google+ can be a powerful platform to help enhance your company’s visibility on the web. It has quickly pocketed the title as the second largest social media network and continues to gain momentum.  The belief by many is that Google will continue to place increasing SEO weight on Google+ making it important to consider when developing your social media and content marketing strategy.

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Has your business fully taken on Google+? What Google+ features do you find most beneficial for your business? Share your comments below.

Infographic: The Social Media Comparison for Advisors

By now, we’ve all heard how valuable and even essential social media can be for businesses. For a recap on some website and social media statistics that speak loudly to advisors and what their prospects are doing online, read this article before moving on.

Deciding where to focus your social media energy can be overwhelming and confusing. When it comes to choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize, it is important to do some research into selecting those that offer the best potential for reaching your target audience. The more thought and strategy that is implemented into your social media plan, the greater the chance of success and engagement.

So, which network should Advisors sign up for first? When it comes to business, it is important to focus on what is most important to your target audience rather then what is the most popular social media platform.   Before we discuss a set of considerations for each social network as it pertains to business needs, we found this great social media cheat sheet, by Leverage Wage Media, that provides a comparison of the different platforms. This cheat sheet will first help you to navigate and compare the major social media sites on the web and how they can be utilized.

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What information and insight would be most helpful for you when starting your navigation through the social media world? Share your comments below and we will be sure to address in an upcoming article.

 

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5 Quick Ways to Optimize Advisor’s LinkedIn Profiles

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With over 330 million active users globally and a targeted user base of business professionals, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn is no longer just a tool for recruiters, but has evolved into a powerful marketing platform that provides a professional ground for Advisors looking to network. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with clients, prospects and industry professionals.

Hubspot reports that over 560,000 professionals visit the LinkedIn homepage daily and that 41% of people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it. LinkedIn states that ‘’close to 90% of people with assets between $100k-1m turn to social media to help them make important financial decisions.’’ As discussed in our article on the Buyer Journey, people are 60% along in their decision-making process before they decide to engage with a salesperson. This means that there is a very high likelihood that prospects have checked out your profile before deciding to engage with you. Your profile is the first stop that new business contacts are going to use to evaluate you as a businessperson so it is imperative that you are putting your best foot forward.

Here are 5 easy ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile and enhance your personal branding:

Claim your Vanity URL

LinkedIn will assign you a random URL with a million confusing numbers. Instead of a URL with meaningless numbers, customize your URL to make yourself more searchable on Google. Your page will become far more optimized from an Search Engine Optimization point of view and also helps your profile to rank higher in Google to make it easier for people to find you. To change your URL, follow these steps:

  1. Under your profile, choose ‘’Edit Profile’’.
  2. Next to public profile, you’ll see your LinkedIn URL.
  3. Click ‘’Edit’’ to change the URL.
  4. To the right, in the ‘’Your public profile’’ URL dialog box, click ‘’Customize your public profile URL’’.
  5. Choose a URL that matches your name as closely as possible.
  6. Click ‘’Set Custom URL’’ to save your change.

Upload a Professional Photo

Upload a photo where you are in a professional setting and dressed appropriately. You want to present a personable and professional image that conveys who you are as a professional.  You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional photographer to make a great impression. Your best bet is to upload a smiling photo that communicates professionalism.

Your Headline Matters

Write a great headline. Your headline is the first thing someone will see about you so make it catchy and attention grabbing. The LinkedIn search provides users with the ability to search using keywords and location to find prospective clients or networking contacts. ‘’Financial Advisor’’ should appear in your headline but go beyond just your title and communicate to prospects, in 120 characters, what you do or what makes you different. Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most significant factors that will help your page show up in LinkedIn search results.

LinkedIn Summary

You have up to 2000 characters to create an engaging LinkedIn summary, which provides an opportunity for you to expand on what you do, your experience, success stories, what makes you different, and your goals and objectives. You can also use the summary section to integrate keywords that you’d like to be ranked for in search engine results.

Update your Status Regularly

By updating regularly, you are increasing your engagement with your LinkedIn community. By updating regularly, you are also going to show up on news feeds more often, which keeps you relevant and top of mind for your connections. Update your profile with relevant articles, industry updates, blog posts, curated content. or updates about you and your business.

LinkedIn can be a very powerful marketing tool that should be checked just as often as your email. These 5 tips will help you optimize your profile for maximum exposure and help set you up for effective LinkedIn engagement. There are over 250 million active LinkedIn members, use these tips to help yourself stand out and increase your chances of being found.

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Do you use LinkedIn? How have you used LinkedIn to grow your business? Share your success stories below.

 

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The Most Common Social Media Mistakes Financial and Insurance Advisors Should Avoid: Part 2

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We often cover things you should include in your social media strategy such as tips, tricks and trends. But, what about the things that you shouldn’t be doing on Social Media? In Part 1 of the most common Social Media Mistakes by Advisors, we covered off the following tactics to avoid in your Social Media strategy:

  1. Failing to have a plan or strategy
  2. Inconsistency in your content themes
  3. Using too many social media platforms
  4. Expecting instant results
  5. Pushing Product or Services

In Part 2, we will cover off 5 more Social Media mistakes to avoid:

6. Neglecting to post regularly

How many times do you see a company create a social network but they haven’t posted in weeks or months? It is important that you post on a regular basis. When you do so, your audience becomes attuned to the fact that you regularly share content and if the content you post and share is useful, they will increase their levels of engagement with you. Moreover, and as mentioned in Part 1, there is nothing worse then going to a Twitter page or blog and the last post is from more than a year ago. It can reflect negatively on your business and your credibility.

7. Forgetting to share others content

The one key element of Social media to note is that Social Media isn’t just media. What do I mean? Well, an example of media could be a newspaper or a website. Many advisors and business owners forget the social element of social media. Sharing, liking and commenting on the content of others is another way to build your audience and is one of the easiest ways to create engagement.

8. Not capturing leads

Many Advisors forget that Social Media is not only about engagement and sharing content but also about lead generation. Be sure to have a mechanism on your website to convert your visitors. If you succeed in sending visitors to your website from Social Media, they are indicating a level of trust with you that’s enough for them to click on a link to go to your website. Examples of ways to capture their information would be to have a newsletter sign up, contact form or a way for them to download a useful e-book or report in exchange for their contact information.

Social Media is a very cost-efficient alternative to expensive marketing strategies that can be used to capture leads.

9. Not using plain-language

Use simple, everyday words. I often use the “grand mother” test where I ask myself if the sentence I just wrote could be understood by my grandmother. Using plain spoken language will also have a higher chance of engagement from your audience since it can speak to them.

10. Waiting for an Invitation

Being proactive on social platforms is another great way to accelerate your ROI. Imagine if you went to a cocktail party or a networking event and stood at the back without ever engaging someone in a conversation. You’re not likely to have very many conversations by taking that approach. Similarly, in social media, not having a voice or proactively engaging in conversation has the same effect. Sending messages, sharing content and being inquisitive about your audience’s problems can help you identify different messaging strategies that help you connect with them.

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What is your greatest challenge in using Social Media for your business?

 

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The Most Common Social Media Mistakes Financial and Insurance Advisors Should Avoid: Part 1

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Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool and I often speak with financial advisors about how social media can help grow and support their business objectives. Here are some common mistakes I often talk about as the ones to avoid when using and engaging on social media:

1. Failing to have a plan or strategy

Social Media should be treated with the same level of thought as every other part of your business strategy. Many businesses on Twitter fail to have a clear strategy around why they are using social media and what they want to accomplish with it. Without a strategy, it can be difficult to deliver an effective message to your target audience. You need a well-planned social media strategy in order to succeed. Some key questions to answer for your social media strategy include:

  • What are the goals of the your selected social media platforms? Are you educating your audience on LinkedIN? Perhaps you are interacting in a group to provide thought leadership?
  • What are the themes of the content you will stick with when sharing content through social posts?
  • How often will you post to social media? Once a day? Once a week?

2. Inconsistency in content themes

If you are an Advisor, it’s unlikely your audience is going to be interested on a restaurant review. While a bit of variety is great, your social networks should have a clear theme that is related to your business. If you specialize in families, produce or share content that would be useful to that audience. Topics on talking to your children about money or how to plan ahead to transfer wealth to your children would be relevant to that specialty. Your prospects and clients should be able to look at your content and have a notion of what your business is all about.

3. Using too many social media platforms

One key theme I’ve consistently heard from business owners is that being on more social media platforms implies you have increased reach. If someone visits your Twitter page and only sees a couple posts from last year, it can send the wrong message to your visitor and impact your credibility.Ask yourself whether your audience exists on the social media platforms that you are considering. Commit to the platform or platforms you choose and execute against a plan. Being good at one thing is much better than being average at many.

Additionally, it’s also important to ask yourself whether social media is right for your business based on your current time availability and the stage of your business. Social media is a great way to connect to other people but the networking aspect of social media is as important as the sharing of content.

4. Expecting instant results

The promise that social media delivers ROI is not false. Much like how going to the gym and eating right promises weight loss and other health benefits. The results, however, in both of these examples are not instantaneous. Approaching social media as a habitual part of your day, understanding that followers and social media engagement take time, and putting trust in the fact that it can deliver a return on investment are the keys to getting results. It is important to remember that social media is all about relationship building, and relationships don’t build over night. It takes time to build up a following on your social networks. Embrace social media as part of your business every day.

5. Pushing Product or Services

There is room for self-promotion on social media but doing it without permission can often send your prospects away. Your audience needs you to deliver content that provides real value to them and helps to solve their problems. Sharing useful and insightful information will help build a level of trust with your audience. Building trust will lead to higher levels of engagement and a captive audience. Having a captive audience is marketing gold.

 

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Social Media has the ability to be a very effective method of connecting to the right prospects, engaging with current clients and helping to grow your business.  But just like any other business strategy, social media activity should be continuously monitored and adjusted to optimize for impact.

In Part 2 of this series, I will discuss 5 more common social media mistakes made by Advisors.

Do you have stories to share about your social media experiences or mistakes? We’d love to hear about them.

 

10 Revealing Website and Social Media Statistics for Financial Advisors

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Are you still convinced that having a website or social media presence isn’t worth your time? Are you wondering whether your prospects interact with advisors, like yourself, on social sites?

Consumers are looking to make informed decisions, which means they are tapping into all resources available to them, most of which are online. Let’s face it. If you don’t have a website or social media, you’re losing business to someone that does. And here is the evidence. Below is a list of 10 revealing statistics that reiterate the importance of having an online presence.  These stats speak loudly to financial advisors and what their prospects are doing online:

  • Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. Each day, there are over 3.5 billion searches which translates to 1.2 trillion searches per year. (Internet Live Stats, 2014)
  • 89% of consumers conduct their product research using search engines. (PR Newsire, 2014)
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Search Engine Journal, 2014)
  • Nearly two in three of mass affluent consumers take action after using social media to discover and consider financial products and services. (The DigitalFA, 2014)
  • Two-thirds of millionaires surveyed said they would like to use electronic media with their advisors.  (The DigitalFA, 2014)
  • About 90 percent of mass affluent consumers use social media. Of that 90 percent, 44% engage with financial institutions on social media. (LinkedIn, 2013)
  • Companies that increase blogging from 3-5 times a month to 6-8 times a month almost double their leads. Companies that blog only 1-2 times a month generate 70% more leads than those that don’t blog at all. (Hubspot, 2012)
  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing. (Groove Digital Marketing, 2013)
  • Google says there are more searches on mobile than on desktop (Google, 2015)
  • Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Times, 2013)

It is important that Advisors continue to adapt to the needs of their prospects.  Don’t get left behind in the digital world. Get started on building an effective online presence today.

GET STARTED! 

3 Optimization Tips that Advisors are Missing on their Blog

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In a previous post, we covered the importance of blogging, as a financial advisor! Now, let’s look into some quick and easy ways to improve the quality of your blog! Here are 3 Optimization Tips that Advisors are Missing on their Blog

Optimize Blog Post Titles

The title of your blog post matters a great deal. Your blog post will appear in search engine results, links and on social media sites. Create an informative and catchy title, for each article, describing what your post is all about. If you want to rank high for a particular question or keyword, make sure it is included in the title of the article.

Here are some effective tips for creating attention grabbing blog titles:

  • Include keywords or questions in the title
  • Catchy and to the point – grab the user’s attention from search
  • Use the list approach (10 top, 3 reasons to. Etc)
  • Be a contrarian
  • Use emotional triggers
  • Pose a question
  • Use power words

Your titles will improve with practice. Make sure you are taking a look at your analytics to see which articles are receiving the most amount of traffic. This is a good indicator that the titles you are using are what your targeted audience is looking for.

Picking the Right Image

A picture is worth a thousand words.  People love pictures and so do search engines.  Finding the right image adds another dimension to an article. Image selection is an important part of engaging your visitor. A good image can create an immediate emotional reaction and set the tone of your article.

It is important to pull out all of the stops to help your article get ranked higher so take the time to optimize your images. Google tries to understand the content of images by the text and keywords surrounding it. The most important part of image search engine optimization is the image filename and alt tag. Rename the photo using 4-5 words to tell Google what the photo is all about. The alt tag gives a description to the image in the case the image doesn’t load or display correctly on your website.

Internal Links

If you are writing a new blog post and reference an older article you have written, or a service that you provide, make sure to create an internal link in your article to those pages. Visitors like to travel through websites looking for valuable content, so why not send them to check out your older posts that are relevant? Internal links help search engines index your site and help identify primary keywords. This helps to increase the page rank of linked pages.

So, next time you publish your next blog article, remember these three things before you hit the ”post now” button.

What strategies are you using to optimize your blog? How often do you create and post new articles for your audience? Share your comments below.

 

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