Interview: Phil Calvert, founder of LifeTalk
Rob Kingsbury talked with Phil Calvert, founder of LifeTalk about the key elements and tangible business benefits of developing a social media strategy
Rob Kingsbury (RK): What key points should advisers consider when developing a social media strategy?
Phil Calvert (PC): The foundation of any social media strategy for any adviser firm should be to ask this question: What are we trying to achieve?
There is a whole host of social media tools advisers could use but if they haven’t thought through what their goals are and where social media will fit in with their business and their marketing strategies, they are not going to get the best out of it.
The internet is a constantly progressing and dynamic place. Many firms put up a website with a few bits and pieces about their company on it and then sit back thinking they have an internet presence. They don’t.
If they look around they will find that the Internet has moved on a lot since their website was created and now there is a lot more they could be doing and, it can be argued, should be doing to stay abreast of changing consumer behaviour.
Now, it’s not about putting up a billboard, it’s about interacting with your clients and with your potential clients.
People tend to use the internet in two ways: first as a means to quickly access the information they want, to go in and look at a website get what they want and come out again; second, is to get involved in it – taking time to find out more, to use the interactive capabilities like video, to click through, to share the information with other people and to ‘like’ what they see. The ‘like’ button may seem trivial but it can be a powerful endorsement of a website or a blog.
It isn’t the case that simply by using social media advisers will see business come rolling in. Up to now many advisers have found clients by referrals, by doing a good job and through face-to- face meetings. What social media allows advisers to do is get the perception of face-to-face meeting out there online as well.
RK: Accepting the need for a social media strategy, how much time should advisers be spending on it?
PC: It all comes down to what they are trying to achieve out of it. On a practical level, if we take LinkedIn as an example, most financial advisers are on LinkedIn and in most cases that is because they’ve heard that everyone else is so they felt obliged to do so.
LinkedIn has changed a lot – you can do almost as much on LinkedIn as you can on Facebook. It’s about giving people a feel for who you are, your skills, your personality and your business. Potential clients may not find you through your website, or it may not be their first port of call. Many corporate executives and the like when looking for an adviser will search on LinkedIn. They will want to know whether they might want to do business with you and they can get a good idea via your LinkedIn profile.
I’d advise you to put at least an hour’s work into creating your LinkedIn profile – there is a lot of information that can go into it, including key words that will help people using the site – as well as regular search engines – to find you based on your skills, interests and business credentials.
There are a lot of useful tools on LinkedIn. It pays to learn about these and then look to build them into your strategy. Once you’ve started to use the sites and got a feel for their tools, then you will get a measure of the time you need to spend on a regular basis to build and develop an effective strategy based on what you want to achieve.
And it’s the tools that take a lot of time that are usually the ones with the most impact. Blogging is an example. I would advise any adviser getting into social media to start with blogging. In an ideal world you want to be posting something every week at least, preferably every day. That can be time consuming and you have to build the time into your working life. But if you’re not doing it, sooner or later your rivals will be and they will get noticed because of it, because the one thing social media tools do is to rapidly magnify your internet presence.
RK: Can a social media strategy deliver tangible benefits for an adviser business?
PC: Absolutely, but it will depend on what you want to achieve and how much time you want to dedicate to learning what the different channels can deliver and what the different tools can offer.
For most firms using social media will be about attracting new clients. For firms targeting executives, middle management, business owners or corporate clients, for example, use LinkedIn, learn how to use its tools and you will see results.
If nothing else you will connect with the people who can bring you those results. It won’t necessarily be the person you connect with who will become a client. At any face-to-face networking event it is very rare to do business with the person you were talking to, it is far more likely that you will do business with someone they know and who they refer to you.
The more your social media profile grows, as you connect to more people via Twitter and LinkedIn, and if those people like you, what you have to say and how you present yourself online, then the more they are likely to do business with you or to refer you to their network of friends, family and colleagues.
I know many financial advisers who get a lot of business through social media. But you can’t do it piecemeal, you can’t say I’ll give Twitter a go for a month and see what happens, it just doesn’t work like that.
Know what you want to achieve, explore the channels out there, find out what they offer and what you need to do to use them effectively – then you can set down your strategy.
(See the full video interview)