Better engage with prospective clients using social media
What strategies and technology can advisers use to identify and attract new business via social media? ABR spoke to social media exponents to find what’s working for them
Tools like blogging, tweeting, social networking, video distribution and podcasting are allowing advisers to engage with both existing and potential clients outside of their traditional realms.
Bridget Greenwood, director at Financial Social Media UK, says: “In business today, there are lots of different channels with which to communicate with clients. The beauty of social media is that you can never quite tell what benefits it may bring; having a presence and being seen to be active can attract new business opportunities.”
Unsurprisingly, the growth of social media has spawned technologies like Hearsay Social, which seeks to capitalise on the unprecedented levels of online interaction between firms and consumers.
Hearsay Social works by alerting advisers when their clients or potential clients share “life events” online, and posts engaging content across the different social networks to a schedule.
In February, Intelliflo announced it had added Hearsay’s marketing tool to its management system.
Rob Walton, chief operations officer at Intelliflo, says: “Social media offers a powerful marketing tool, but firms need to be exploring ways to identify and engage with new clients. By integrating Hearsay’s technology, clients will have the tools they need to develop and manage effective and efficient social media interaction in a regulator-friendly manner.”
Walton believes advisers looking to grow their business over the next five to 10 years and attract new clients need to use social media, as it offers a faster and more efficient way of engaging with people.
Simon Munday, founder of Prosperity IFA, is an avid fan of using social media to engage with new clients and has been using Hearsay Social for a year.
He explains: “We like to run very targeted campaigns through social media to attract new business, and Hearsay is brilliant in helping to efficiently sift through articles and post relevant content to that specific audience.”
But for advisers wishing to identify potential new clients online, exponents warn they must have a strategy.
According to Sam Turner, head of digital at ClientsFirst, advisers must give careful consideration to who their ideal client is and really drill down to the specifics.
He says: “Once you know exactly who you want to attract, you must develop something of real value to share with that audience. Do not give them anything sales-orientated; understand what that audience is concerned with. The real test is – will your target client be able to ignore what you’re posting? If not, then you know you’re on to a good campaign.”
Turner says prospective clients will often provide their email address to receive content, which can then be used to send out brief, relevant and very targeted updates.
Greenwood echoes the sentiment: “Advisers must have a firm message and be consistent with that message and the content they’re posting. They must have a clear idea of their end goal, and recognise that different platforms will require a different approach and appeal to different audiences.”
For Munday, social media has proved particularly useful for building clients in the automated service market with up to £50,000 to invest. However, he says the key to using social media technology effectively is to be consistent and regular in putting out content. He also recommends making use of the training offered by the technology provider to ensure its functionality is fully understood.
Munday has adopted a “third, third, third” approach to Hearsay; one third of content is focused on generic financial services information, a third is completely irrelevant but funny or interesting and a third is more product/sales related.
He explains: “Our experience has shown that people like educational content the most; we have a very low unsubscribe rate for our newsletter because we don’t try too hard to push our services, but instead offer people useful tips or information.”
Pete Matthew, managing director at Jacksons Wealth Management, describes social media as a marketing engine which should be used to bring prospective clients back to the firm’s website.
Matthew, who set up Meaningful Money TV seven years ago and has just celebrated a million podcast downloads, believes social media helps bridge the trust gap.
He says: “Our job is to work with people and social gives you the chance to show your human side. I think as an industry we hugely underestimate what a big deal it is for someone to contact a financial adviser and open up to them. Engaging with prospective clients through social media helps them trust you before they’ve even met you.”
For Matthew, it’s important to provide content of value for free. It’s an approach that has paid off, with Matthew currently receiving at least one enquiry a day.
He says: “The great thing about social media is how easy it is to find communities of like-minded people, among whom your message will resonate. It’s about being interesting and educational, but above all it needs to inspire people to take action. You need to highlight the issues that people can’t ignore.”
However, Greenwood notes that in order for a social presence to work effectively, it must be a company-wide initiative, with directors offering their commitment.
She says: “If you want to be in business and grow over the next few years then you must be mindful that clients will come to expect a social media presence. Company owners must support their team in setting up social media, investing in the right training and tools. Without being fully committed, they may not necessarily get the results they were hoping for.”