Many moons ago, I gave one of the industry’s first talks on social media at a national conference for registered investment advisors. The date was February 3, 2013 and the event was the 2013 TD Ameritrade Institutional National Conference in sunny San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. About 3,000 attendees and 1500 financial advisors came out for ‘Breaking Through Boundaries’ and the chance to see Pat Benatar, live, sing her 80’s classic “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”
My breakout session was appropriately named Twitternomics 101—about you guessed it, Twitter. Feeling super pumped at the chance to share my social exuberance about tweeting and hashtagging with a room of financial advisors, I learned pretty quickly not everyone was a believer. And rightly so. During that time RIAs (Registered Investment Advisors) regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission had not yet received the regulatory guidance they sought.
It wasn’t until April 2, 2013 that the SEC first issued direction on company communications made through social media and gave clarity to the investment community. With that came the realization that social media was fundamentally changing communication as we knew it. What we didn’t know at the time, myself included, was just how fast.
Fast forward nearly five years later and social media usage has gone through the roof. For example, Facebook now has 2 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) monthly active users! Instagram (also owned by Facebook) is picking up new users at a rapid pace and boasts 700 milllion monthly active users. LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, too have hit all-time highs.
So why then are a handful of advisors still marketing like it’s the big 80’s? The excuses I hear are starting to sound like a broken record of the worst kind.
- You don’t want to waste your time. You are busy. I get it. So am I and everyone else. Yet is hard to imagine a day without Facebook and LinkedIn. Social media is part of my day; just not my entire day. As I scroll through my newsfeeds, I’m checking in with my network: people I care about both personally and professionally, beginning with my extended family and close relatives. I am also searching for relevant news, updates, and the chance to say hello, happy birthday, or congratulations on a recent promotion or anniversary to a colleague and client. People are often surprised and flattered I took the time to see their recent posts and show I care.
- You don’t want to share your life with the world. It’s okay not to want to plaster your personal life on social media and share it with the world and other groups that fall into the category of competitors, haters, stalkers, and bots. However, if you are in business having a professional presence on LinkedIn in 2017 is no longer optional. As a matter of fact, it is an opportunity. Go ahead and start sharing your skills, expertise, and articles with your connections and watch what happens. Open yourself to the possibilities of growing your network, staying top of mind, increasing leads, and adding clients and real top-line revenue.
- You don’t want to make the investment. I’ll be the first person to tell you that social media is an investment and definitely not free. It takes money to engage an outside consultant or agency to handle your community management and integrate marketing tech, automation, and compliance. Even more expensive and time consuming to hire your own staff and manage their output. It also takes time to master the learning curve of each platform; time you could be spending time with clients, your team, or your family. Truth be told, your return on the investment can be tracked and measured, and even correlated to the amount of leads and goodwill it produces. But like most long-term investments, plenty of patience is needed in the initial process.
- You don’t want to change the status quo. I remember a time in the Pat Benatar days when cold-calling was the only game in town. Today, it’s nearly all digital and now email is the cold-call equivalent. Even now, business is still about relationships and knocking on doors; only it’s a digital door. Embrace the change, albeit the trepidation that comes with it, and explore new approaches. Sit down with a digital strategist and see what types of audience and engagement metrics you discover.
- You don’t believe it produces any results. Some people mistake social media as a pure client acquisition play. Social media is communicating and maintaining contact and connection with people who matter most. It’s also a tool to learn skills, discover people and form new relationships or deepen the existing ones. When used in the spirit of community building and sharing, as intended, then social media produces unbelievable opportunity and invites serendipity into your life. Here is a perfect example. A few months ago, I saw an announcement for TEDxHobokenWomen for November 3, 2017 on LinkedIn. One of my connections commented on the post which showed up in my feed. Turns out I auditioned for a spot and made it! Now I look forward to one of the most amazing experiences of my life, thanks in part to the ever-changing world of social media. Now it’s your turn.