LIMRA Conference Highlights: How Financial Advisors Can Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to Connect and Grow

Sep 12, 2013

The following is a guest blog post by Amy Sitnick, Senior Marketing ManagerSitnick_small for the SEI Advisor Network and self-described social media addict. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

It’s good to get away from the office once in a while and immerse yourself in your discipline.

I recently attended the LIMRA / LOMA Social Media for Financial Services conference  and came away energized about the opportunity for social media marketing, in our industry, RIGHT NOW.

In case you missed it, the conference has also been widely written about online. Here are two articles from FA Mag:

Top Social Media Tweets from the Financial Services Industry

Social Media Insights from Nine Experts

For me, it was good to live and breathe social media for three days. I came back to the office armed with 12 pages of notes, and full of ideas for our LinkedIn group (the SEI Advisor Network Forum), Facebook (new!) and Twitter accounts:

  • SEI Advisor Network – @SEIAdvisors
  • John Anderson – Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions – @SEIJohnA
  • Amy Sitnick – Senior Marketing Manager – @SEIAmyS
  • Raef Lee – Managing Director, New Ventures / Technology – @SEIRaefL
  • John Frownfelter – Managing Director, Investment Solutions – @SEIJohnF

LinkedIn – The New Yellow Pages

Nowadays, everyone does their research online before buying any product or service. The same goes for investors evaluating financial advisors. The good news is you can take advantage of your “online real estate,” and LinkedIn is the perfect way to do so.

What you can do:

• Fully complete your LinkedIn profile: Don’t skimp here. Lately, I’ve seen lots of advisors whose profiles just include their titles and the name of their firms under “Experience.” List everything that you do for clients here – this is what’s going to differentiate you and get your prospects to pick up the phone for a second opinion!

• Promote your profile: Start with customizing your LinkedIn URL to reflect your name (ie. www.linkedin.com/in/amysitnick) and adding it to your marketing materials. Your business card is a great example, because you naturally are handing these out to new prospects.

• Start distributing content: Each and every day (even multiple times a day if you have enough relevant content to share), you can post what you’re up to. So, what should you be sharing? Here’s a quick list of ideas:

  • Market commentaries: Utilize free content from SEI’s Knowledge Center, or investor-approved content from your Broker Dealer.
  • Relevant third-party articles: New article on retirement stats in the Wall Street Journal? Share it with your network. New article on the value of working with a financial advisor vs. going DIY? Share it with your network. You get the drill. Each morning, read a few publications and share one timely article.
  • Networking events and due diligence trainings: Heading to a continuing education event? Charitable board meeting? Product update from a vendor that you work with? This is all perfect content to include as a status update. Investors (and their other professional advisors, aka potential referrals sources for you) want to hear that you’re staying fresh and spending time out of the office hearing what’s new in the industry.
  • Hiring new firm personnel:LinkedIn can also be used to help find new talent for your firm. I’m hearing more advisors turning away from traditional hiring methods such as online career website listings and recruiters, and instead, asking their LinkedIn networks for contacts. That can be done either through a status update, networking through groups or performing searches. I’m particularly interested in this topic and will be sharing more on this in the future.

All of this activity will help you build your own personal brand, further develop relationships with clients and prospects that you have offline and position you for introductions to prospects. Forget about cold-calling. If you build your LinkedIn profile and at the same time, consistently deliver a positive client experience offline, you’ll be able to ask for “warm introductions” to second-degree connections within your network (the “friends” of your “friends”). As LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says: “The future belongs to networkers.”

Facebook – The Home for Life Events

I recently wrote that Facebook is my favorite social network for financial advisors, and that hasn’t changed.

Clara Shih, Founder of Hearsay Social, was the closing presenter at the conference and in my opinion, she captured the beauty of Facebook best. Facebook allows advisors to be customer-driven, not product driven. Rather than checking in with a client because it’s been six months, you check in because they had a baby. Or they retired. Or they are planning a European vacation. It allows you to be authentic in your interaction with clients. That’s what people are looking for, and social media enables you to deliver that kind of client experience.

Being “social” isn’t pushing out content; it’s dedicating time to listen to your networks, identifying “social signals” from your connections, and using those opportunities to reach out.

Beyond those connections, you can extend your reach using Facebook advertising – something that works well for big brands, and is catching on among financial services.  You can target ads around certain demographics or keywords (ie. “pregnant,” “retiring,” etc.). Here’s a good primer for getting started.

Twitter – Real-time Conversations

Although I’m a huge fan of Twitter, I’d probably rank it third behind LinkedIn and Facebook in its applicability for financial advisors – mainly because the demographics skew towards being on the young side. But the conference reiterated my overall feeling about Twitter for financial advisors: Just because it’s not number one today, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be tomorrow.

If you’re like other advisors, you’re probably not as familiar with Twitter vs. LinkedIn and Facebook. My suggestion: get a Twitter account if you don’t have one. Use it for personal use and just learn how it works. “Follow” celebrities, and sports teams, as well as major brands (financial and otherwise), search hashtags that are key to your practice (taxes, financial planning, etc.) to see what kinds of conversations are happening. Eventually, you’ll be ready to dip your toe in and participate.

At the conference, many attendees and presenters were “live tweeting” during the event by sharing a hashtag (#llsmc). There was a great deal of discussion around participating in conversations, and not just pushing out content. Twitter is a great example of where to do just that. Another benefit of participating in a group conversation is that lots of people will be tuned into what you’re saying. As a result, you’ll likely see your number of Twitter “followers” jump. And that means that you’ll have a bigger audience to see your future updates.

It’s time to jump in

Archiving tools are here. If your Broker Dealer hasn’t selected an archiving service, you can look at companies such as Hearsay Social, Actiance, Smarsh and Socialware – all of whom were very visible at the conference, as both presenters and sponsors. Each company has different services and some go beyond archiving, including services such as “listening” and “aggregation,” so be sure to do some homework before selecting a provider.

The value is there

After a taxing few years of headline-making scandals and turbulent markets, trust in financial institutions is at an all-time low. This conference re-affirmed for me that social media can be that effective marketing tool to help regain trust from investors by establishing frequent, authentic communication with clients, and ultimately positioning you for introductions to new prospects.

 

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Amy Sitnick

Amy Sitnick

Amy Sitnick is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a senior marketing manager for the SEI Advisor Network.

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