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Newsletters, Twitter, Facebook – all part of the communication mix

Twitter and other social media channels should be considered like advisers’ newsletters, as part of the client communication mix, says Brett Davidson in this interview with ABR

ABR: Are you coming across many advisory firms using Twitter as a useful tool to communicate with existing or potential clients?

Twitter sits with all the other communication tools loosely labeled ‘social media’ and advisers are using them to differing degrees and with differing levels of success.

Advisers that are using Twitter well are people like Pete Matthew. For example, he follows people in the area local to his business and he then engages with them around the topics that interest them. But Pete is very advanced in the way he uses social media.

More commonly, I’m seeing firms start to send regular email newsletters out to their clients, which is a great way of communicating about issues and keeping your services in their mind’s eye. If you’re using MailChimp.com and other marketing services, they are set up so people can share the content on social media like Facebook, Twitter or forward it on as an email. That’s often advisers’ first foray into the online and social media area.

However, when use of Twitter is raised, many of them will push back by saying ‘my clients aren’t on Twitter’. My question is, how do you know? To my knowledge not many adviser firms actually ask clients whether they use Twitter, or any of the other social media channels. Finding out would help determine what kind of social media strategy a firm may need. They may be surprised by how many people are using them and how regularly.

ABR: How are firms using their Twitter accounts? Have you seen mistakes made?

One of the mistakes I see is when advisers compile or buy a list of people on Twitter to push their promotional material. That’s misunderstanding the medium. You can push out to an extent but primarily Twitter is about connecting with people. It’s another way to engage with your clients and with people who may become your clients.

If you’ve sent out a newsletter and a client responds with something interesting, you’re not going to put out another newsletter in reply, but using Twitter you can respond or talk about the issue and maybe get a Twitter conversation going around it. Or you can write a blog in response and use Twitter to create interest in the blog.

It’s about engaging in an easy 140-character way. But you’ve got to think about it more in terms of building connections and allowing the interesting things you’ve said to filter out through those connections rather than be obsessed with pushing out promotional material.

Also when you send out a communication via social media you have to allow it to go where it goes – whether it is picked up by five of your clients who like to retweet or 500 clients. The point is you’re giving it a chance to spread and make connections with people you might not otherwise have reached.

Twitter is personal so there is an argument for not having a corporate Twitter account because no one wants to engage with a company. Particularly in the adviser market where firms tend to be small, it should be the principals that are fronting the firm through Twitter, although staff can have their own Twitter accounts too. It’s about dipping your toe in the water and trying to engage with people. If you think about it, everyone on your team does that already via phone and email to clients so why not through this extra medium?

There’s no need to send out controversial comment. If people think of tweeting as if they were talking to clients on the phone or writing them an email or a letter then that’s a good starting point.

It can take a while for advisers to feel comfortable with using Twitter. I had used Twitter for some time before the penny finally dropped. You need to think of it in the context of your overall communications with clients and how it can work for you alongside other social media channels. For example, when FP Advance publishes its newsletter, it will go to our subscribers first and then we’ll put out some of the content via our corporate website, our Facebook page, a couple of LinkedIn groups and Twitter. Advisers could do the same.

It’s then that you start to get leverage for your material. And by getting the message out through all those different mediums, if people have a preference then you’re communicating with them in a way that works for them. Then you can start to have a connection.

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