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Ignoring LinkedIn is Hurting your Advisory Firm

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According to The Wall Street Journal, “At Social Media High, Facebook is the all-star quarterback, Twitter is the school paper’s editor in chief and Snapchat is the mysterious, Harley-riding transfer student. That makes LinkedIn the nerd who skips prom for the mathlympics.

However, within the financial services sector, LinkedIn is the all-star quarterback with 9 in 10 Financial Advisors active on this social network (LinkedIn). LinkedIn is a hub for growing your advisory firm, strengthening and nurturing your relationships, and building awareness for your business.

Signing up for a LinkedIn account and letting it gather dust will hurt your career – you need to be active on this social network. There are many little changes you can make to optimize your LinkedIn account, as well as many opportunities to engage with other LinkedIn users – more specifically your clients and prospects. Some of these engagement opportunities include:

  • Joining and contributing to relevant LinkedIn Groups
  • Posting updates for your LinkedIn network to see
  • Like and comment with updates made by people in your network
  • And so much more

LinkedIn recently conducted a comprehensive survey of Financial Advisors and found that 75% of Advisors who gained clients from LinkedIn stated that they use the site to improve their referral network. They gathered the top reasons Financial Advisors use LinkedIn, which included:

  1. Building brand identity
  2. Enhancing current client relationships
  3. Staying up-to-date on industry insights
  4. Improving their referral network

In a very digitally-centric world, it is important to acknowledge that as a Financial Advisor, you need to not only have a LinkedIn presence, but an active one at that. You must recognize that ignoring this all-star quarterback of a social media network could hinder your Advisory firm’s success. By staying active on LinkedIn, you could be a social media all-star, reach new prospects and grow your Assets Under Management (AUM).

Advisors: Reach your Prospects by Posting at Optimal Times

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More than 60% of Financial Advisors, who prospected on LinkedIn, successfully gained new clients as a result (source). As a Financial Advisor, having an online presence, specifically social media, is crucial to helping to convert prospects into clients and growing your business.

With almost 1.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 320 million on Twitter, and over 100 million on LinkedIn – being active on these social media giants needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy (source).

However, it isn’t just about flying by the seat of your pants and posting content whenever, wherever.  It is important to have a solid social media strategy in place. To find the most optimal time to reach your target audience, it’s going to take time and research. Think about:

  • What day and time are people the most engaged with your posts?
  • When do your posts reach the most people?
  • Is posting more frequently benefiting you or hurting you?

To get you started, take a look at this infographic by SurePayroll, which outlines when the best time to reach out to your audience is on several social media platforms. Keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all formula; you will still have to do some of your own research, and analyze your own profiles to see what is working for you, and what is not.

 

Advisors: Reach your Prospects by Posting at Optimal Times Infographic

Financial Advisors: Here’s how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

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According to Linked Into Leads, 9 in 10 Financial Advisors who use social networks turn to LinkedIn as their go-to social media platform. With over 400 million users on LinkedIn, you should focus on connecting with prospects through this giant of a social media platform.

Here are 4 ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile and convert prospects into clients (I’ve used Veriday’s, VP Product Management, Andrew Chung as an example below):

 

  1. You need a picture of yourself. A great LinkedIn picture is:
  • Clear
  • Professional
  • Eye catching

Financial Advisors: Here's how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

You want your picture to resemble what you would look like if you were to shake someone’s hand.  Smile and make direct eye contact with the camera so that on an online platform, you mimic that feeling to your audience.

Having an eye catching picture can also increase traffic to your profile. Think of it this way; if you were to search for a Product Manager on LinkedIn and in the search results, had the option of picking between the two pictures below, whose profile would you likely click?

Financial Advisors: Here's how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

 

  1. Personalize your LinkedIn URL

This a fast and simple step in optimizing your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn provides each user with a randomized personal link. Customizing your LinkedIn URL will not only improve your SEO, but it will also look better and more professional.

Financial Advisors: Here's how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

 

  1. What does your headline say about you?

Don’t just put your current job title as your headline, that’s already visible on your profile. Write something that encompasses who you are and what you have to offer. In our example, Andrew Chung’s official role at Veriday is VP, Product Management. Yes, that is his current role – but it’s not the whole story about who Andrew is. Instead he markets himself as a Growth-Driven Product Leader, User Experience Practitioner, and Relentlessly Focused on Customer Success.

Financial Advisors: Here's how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

 

  1. What contact information have you made available to your connections?

How can people reach you? Including your contact information is critical to further build connections with people on LinkedIn. This provides your connections with a means to contact you outside of LinkedIn, whether it be through a phone number, email, or social media. Being connected on different mediums is great because it allows you to better market yourself to peers, coworkers, and key decision makers in your industry.

Financial Advisors: Here's how to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile in 5 Minutes

 

LinkedIn gives you the ability to connect with hundreds and thousands of key decision makers, prospects, and future clients. So, take 5 minutes out of your day and optimize your LinkedIn profile.

For a more detailed walk-through on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, check out our Webinar, Powering Up Your LinkedIn Presence for Success, which was hosted by Andrew Chung himself.

Advisors: Increase Brand Awareness with these Twitter Engagement Tips

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According to Twitter, there are over 320 million active Twitter users around the globe. In this day and age, having a presence on this giant of a social media platform is crucial to the success of your business. Twitter provides a medium that enables Advisors to connect to their target audience and helps them to reach new prospects.

On average, around 6,000 tweets are Tweeted each second. That’s 500 million tweets per day. People may take notice to your tweets or they may scroll past them…it is all in how you craft your Twitter strategy.

Here are 4 easy ways to better engage your Twitter audience:

  1. picture is worth 1 million characters

90% of information that comes to the brain is visual. If you want people to stopVeriday Twitter Capture scrolling and notice your content – use a visual.

Generally speaking, as an Advisor, you work with numbers. Using graphs is a great way to visually share this type of information with your audience. Statistics show that content with a visual component gets 94% more views than those without (source).

65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets (photos, videos and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated (source). Images evoke emotional responses to readers, and the use of the right picture can bring out strong emotions and reactions in your readers (happiness, compassion, disgust, or sadness).

It’s important to remember that the majority of readers will scan a page rather than read it word for word.  In a world where people are constantly bombarded with content, one of the most successful ways to capture your audience’s attention, especially the scanners, is through the use of visual assets.

Captivate your audience and allow them to visualize your message through the use of visual assets (example: see tweet to the right).

 

  1. Use #hashtags

Twitter is famous for its use of hashtags. Although, hashtags may not contribute towards your engagement rate to the extent that you may think. Yes, using hashtags will allow you, as a Financial Advisor, to reach your target audience. And yes, hashtags help to expand your reach on Twitter. That being said, when it comes to hashtags, less is more. According to a study done by LocoWise, adding too many hashtags to your posts can actually decrease your engagement rate as shown in the table below.

  0 # 1 # 2 # 3 # 4 #
% of tweets with the corresponding number of hashtags 55.8 24.45 15 3.13 1.62
Engagement rate 1.9 1.84 1.2 0.4 0.19

As a Financial Advisor, hashtags also allow you to see what is trending, what questions or challenges your audience is having, as well as new technology or information that is relevant to your field. Some popular hashtags in the Financial Services industry include:

  • #FinServ
  • #Advisors
  • #FinPlan
  1. Tweet, tweet, tweet!

Set goals for your Twitter account that focus on how often you post per day or week. A great way to stay on track is to schedule your tweets using a social media management system such as Hootsuite. The more you tweet about topics relevant to the financial industry, the more of the right attention you will get – but be sure you are sharing valuable and unique content, and not just posting for the sake of posting.

Also, people like to see that you are engaged on Twitter. If you see an interesting article that you want to share with others – retweet it! This will help you build relationships with other users. Staying in the loop with current news and trends shows your audience that you are ahead of the curve.

Millennials are the next investors, and more importantly your future clients. This means that tailoring your marketing strategy to their habits should be a priority. An easy way to stay on top of Twitter is to set aside 15 minutes per day to schedule your tweets.

 

  1. Join in with discussions

The beauty of Twitter is that you can interact with as many people as you’d like.

This is where the @ sign comes into play. This is one of the most important influencers of engagement on Twitter. This feature allows you to directly communicate with other users on Twitter by answering your @ replies and tagging others when you comment or share their content. Over time, this will allow you to build relationships with your audience, and more importantly with your influencers.

Industry influencers, on social media, are some of the most trusted sources of information. Do some research and find out who your influencers are. Connecting with these influencers will help to increase your reach, credibility and overall social media image.

Joining discussions will keep you in the loop of what your prospects and clients are saying and what questions they’re asking. For Advisors, joining in on discussions and sharing useful content can help you to become a thought leader in the industry. People will start coming to you for answers and insights because you have built trust with them.

 

Gaining insight on what your prospects and clients are interested in or what is challenging them is also a great source for new content ideas. Learning from your audience will enable you to post unique content that is aimed at solving and educating them on their greatest financial challenges.

 

7 Financial Marketing Trends in the Wealth Management Sector

4 Tips to Make Your Blog More Socially Shareable

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88% of millennials used Facebook as their main source of news in 2015. As a Financial Advisor, you should be continuously trying to reach a wider audience in order to help build brand awareness and thought leadership. Content marketing helps boost your websites SEO, increasing the overall traffic to your website and ups your position as a thought leader in the financial industry.

Blogs are a great way to attract future clients and keep current clients up-to-date. Here are four tips to help make your blog more socially shareable.

Cut the Jargon

As a Financial Advisor, you’re well-versed in your trade. When it comes to making your blog more socially shareable, however, you’ll want to keep specialized financial vocabulary to a minimum. Always keep in mind that your audience, for the most part, is not comprised of other Financial Advisors who have a background in Financial Planning and are familiar with terms like “annuity,” “fiduciary” and “asset class diversification”.

To make your blog more socially shareable, write simply and clearly. Avoid using jargon, but if you have to, make sure that you explain it in a simple and direct way. Always take your audience demographic into consideration.

Be Mindful of Your Audience

Cutting the jargon does not, however, mean dumbing down your language. Instead, write informative and direct posts about a variety of subjects. You can write about general topics like retirement, or much more specific ones like what you need to know about your RRSP as this year’s deadline approaches. Make sure that they are well-researched and well-written, as clients and prospects will continue to visit your blog if they feel that they are receiving unique, valuable and sound financial advice.

Get Connected

A great way to attract more visitors to your blog is to advertise it on social media. Get connected through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms will allow you to promote your blog regularly in creative and interesting ways. The key word here is regularly. In order to maintain public interest in your blog, you will need to post frequently. People will lose interest very quickly in your blog if you’re only posting once every few months. That doesn’t mean that you have to post three times a day (in fact, that’s probably overdoing it), but rather that you should come up with a reasonable schedule and stick to it. Websites that are updated with fresh content regularly generally receive significantly higher traffic than those that are not.

Keep Your Word Count to a Minimum

This is a crucial tip. When you’re writing blog posts, don’t churn out a Moby Dick length novel of financial advice. Keep your posts short and to-the-point so readers aren’t overwhelmed or bored. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of website visitors scan a new page, rather than read it word for word.  By keeping your blog posts short and concise, or in list form, it will make it easier to engage visitors who prefer to scan a page.

Just as you keep your posts to a reasonable length, make sure that you stick to the point. As a Financial Advisor, people are visiting your blog to read valuable advice and gain unique insight into financial activities so be sure to fulfill that component.

Social media is a great way to build your personal brand. Making your blog shareable across several platforms will help you keep your current clients informed while expanding your reach to new prospects. An increase in traffic for your website, over time will position you as a thought leader in the financial planning industry. So, if you haven’t done so already – set up a Twitter and Facebook account right now and get to work!

 

7 Financial Marketing Trends in the Wealth Management Sector

A Daily 10 Minute LinkedIn Checklist for Advisors

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LinkedIn is a community of business professionals with over 330 million active users; making it the world’s largest professional network. Of LinkedIn’s users, 40% check it daily.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, of course it is not too late to establish a presence but I would consider doing it sooner rather than later. Most likely your competitors have already done so and have begun establishing themselves as thought leaders as well as generating leads in the process. If you haven’t read our post on 5 Quick Ways to Optimize Advisor’s LinkedIn Profiles, check it out first before moving on to this one.

Like other social networks, success on LinkedIn requires that you be present regularly. The Digital FA has provided a quick 10 minutes a day LinkedIn Checklist below for Financial Advisors:

Respond to Messages: Check your LinkedIn inbox just as you do email. Be professional and timely in your responses and make sure your replies are meaningful.   

Share Content: Share links to articles or videos to educate, inform, and empower your connections.

Invite Others to Connect: Invite people you have met to connect with you. Personalize your invitation with a brief message mentioning how you met or reflect on a discussion you had. Avoid using the canned default message for invitations.

Engage: Scan posts made by your connections. If you see something you like, let them know. You don’t need to make a comment every time; give a “like” to their update. Doing so will show you are interested in what others have to say.

See Who Your Connections Are Connecting With: This is a great opportunity to search for potential clients, centers of influence, or other people you want to connect with. Ask your connection to introduce you.

Take Action: LinkedIn provides a great feature that allows you to see when your connections are promoted, leave a company, or were mentioned in the news. Congratulate them on their success and take it a step further by sending a handwritten note. Human interaction still remains valuable.

This is a great checklist to keep your profile up to date and engaging. If you follow this daily checklist, you are sure to increase engagement with your audience and make more connections over time.

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How are you engaging followers on LinkedIn? Share your comments below.

Social Media Compliance Guidelines for Financial Advisors

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This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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Do you know how to think through and manage endorsements and comments on websites and pages under your control?

One piece of SEC guidance that got a big cheer from Financial Advisors and industry social media advocates is that “community” or “fan” pages — if established by an independent third-party to gather community or public sentiment — do not violate the testimonial rule. That just makes sense: if the Advisor has no control over the commentary and posts on the discussion forum, how could he or she be held liable for any comments about services and/or products provided?

For an in-depth look at what Financial Advisors can and can’t do on third-party review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Wallet Hub and GuideVine, click here: Making Sense of the SEC’s Third-Party Review Site Rules

What is important to remember is this: where the Advisor can control the comments, he or she should take great pains not to allow any type of forbidden endorsement or testimonial to occur.

So when thinking about LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and other website pages you can control, here are some areas to consider.

DECIDE HOW TO HANDLE THE LINKEDIN ENDORSEMENT FEATURE

LinkedIn’s “endorsements” feature on an Advisor’s profile page IS in control of the Advisor. In addition, the endorsement feature provides only positive feedback. With these factors in mind, and because LinkedIn members have the discretion to accept or deny any endorsement, many compliance experts recommend that Advisors turn off this feature. If you and your compliance officer determine that turning off the endorsements feature is a good idea, log in to LinkedIn and click “edit Profile” then “edit Skills and Expertise”. If you already have endorsements on your LinkedIn profile, rather than deleting them, it might be best to simply “Hide” them (who knows – you might not be with the same firm in the future and could potentially show them at some point).

One financial services digital media expert provides some interesting food for thought on her Wired Advisor blog:

“It is my opinion that the social proof gained from showcasing LinkedIn endorsements from your connections on your profile is important, especially since you generally can’t publish recommendations or testimonials,” says Stephanie Sammons, founder of WiredAdvisor.com. “Also, specific clients and prospects are not identified here. It also should be noted that in the SEC policy update, they no longer view non-investment related commentary to be deemed as a testimonial. Therefore it sounds like you can potentially showcase recommendations that relate to community service or religious affiliation (these were the two examples given by the SEC in the update).”

“Given that the term ‘endorsement’ doesn’t actually indicate within the context of the LinkedIn profile a specific testimonial or recommendation, I believe they are very similar to a collection of Facebook fan page ‘likes’. There are no clients or prospects being singled out through these LinkedIn endorsements. This is mentioned in the SEC update as something that would be a violation of the testimonial rule,” Sammons continues.

“These are aggregate endorsements of your skills from any and all of your LinkedIn connections. With this in mind, I would advise that your list of skills remain very general in nature as they relate to your services such as ‘financial planning’, ‘retirement planning’.  None of your skills listed should indicate or point toward performance results,” she concludes.

CHECK WITH YOUR COMPLIANCE OFFICER

Similar to endorsements, LinkedIn’s “recommendations” feature is something a LinkedIn member can control. An Advisor has the ability to accept or deny those types of testimonial comments, most of which are usually independently volunteered.

On LinkedIn (as well as blogs and community forums where the Advisor can turn off the comments feature), most compliance officers typically encourage the Advisor to stay on the safe side and decline to publish (or hide) any comments that could be deemed a testimonial. Many say is it not worth risking any debate as to whether or not the Advisor allowed all comments — both positive and negative – to be seen on the site. Although Sammons observations above do seem to make sense: there may be some gray area if (1) specific clients and prospects are not identified (2) the comments are not investment related. So check with your compliance office or outside legal counsel to get their advice.

On Facebook pages that an Advisory firm controls, many compliance officers are asking Advisors to turn off the Star Ratings feature. To do that, go to the “About” page and find “Page Info” then “Address / Edit”. Deselect “Show map, check-ins and star ratings.”

Some additional pointers:

  • Non-investment related commentary, such as comments on religious affiliation, personal character, or community involvement, are not a violation of the rule, so it is up to you and your compliance officer to determine where to draw the line.
  • On an Advisor’s social media page or profile, there should not be distinctions between who is a client and who are friends or other connections — so be careful not to have a Twitter list or a Facebook photo album called “clients”. There should be no implication that the contacts/friends have experienced favorable results from the Advisor’s services.
  • While the SEC guidance does say that interactive posts made on social sites do not need to be pre-approved, some more conservative firms hold to the requirement that all content on social media needs to be pre-approved before it is published.
  • Map out your social media strategy — both from a compliance aspect, as well as a “voice” and “editorial” standpoint before stepping in to the social media waters. Social media and online forums are a great way to “be discoverable” and advance worthwhile causes and educational information. Having a written strategy in place is the best way to go. It will keep you on track if you are doing your own social media and becomes especially important if you ever hand the reins to a marketing manager or social media director.

REMEMBER ONLINE REPUTATION, TOO

Its not just a compliance issue though. Commenting on blogs or photos or Facebook articles is an opportunity for anyone with a good or bad opinion to express those thoughts freely. Many who post do not even consider the reputational consequences of their posts, but smart Financial Advisors and service professional know that every word they post on social media sites can either tear down or build up reputational capital.

Smart Advisors will think twice before posting content on any site, especially when they have had a drink, are tired, stressed or experiencing a sense of exhilaration (any of these situations could skew one’s otherwise judgment). It is important to show some personality from time to time, but doing it in a thoughtful “brand essence” way will pay dividends down the road. For more on “voice”, “authenticity” and “brand essence,” read Finding Your Voice Online and Building Your Brand as a Financial Advisor Today.

What if you feel you’ve been slandered online? While not every site will remove upsetting comments, Facebook may be open to removing egregious content. Facebook page owners can report violations to Facebook’s administrative team using Facebook’s “Report a Violation” page. Read more on eHow