During a recent call with a client we admire for its strong thought leadership and social media outreach, we spent a few minutes discussing the goals of social media communications. Are successful social media programs measured mainly by an increase in sales or leads added to the pipeline? That is one measure. But in our experience, a successful program does so much more.
In financial services, a successful social media outreach program can drive engagement with existing clients and centers of influence, it can help more people find you by building your brand and establishing your authority and it can reinforce the buying decision.
One of the most important goals of any financial services communications effort is to deepen relationships with existing customers. Social media can play an important role. Posts can educate clients and influencers on your products and services. They can deepen the relationship by demonstrating your process and approach. And they may help clients achieve better investment outcomes by providing the context they need to make good long-term decisions.
Some of the most interesting social media content is educational and engages readers to invest the time to get to know your firm and your approach. This creates goodwill, as customers feel you are enriching their experience. For example, some of the best social media programs provide historical context to help investors understand how short-term market activity fits into the long-term picture. But this requires taking the time to “give away” your thinking and your proprietary insights.
Establishing brand and authority
We’ve written before about how successful communicators need to “give in order to get.” By sharing your proprietary thinking and insights, you build your subject matter authority and cement your reputation as an expert. This establishes you as a leader in your space and gives customers confidence in your approach. It can also help people that are searching for someone with your expertise find you.
In addition to establishing your authority, social media can reinforce your personal or corporate brand. Some of the highest engagement we see is when social media accounts share photos of people. These allow you to connect on a more personal level with existing customers and prospects. For example, one of our clients regularly shares their commitment to their local community and philanthropy with posts featuring employees volunteering or participating in community events they sponsor. Their photos show that giving back to the community is a core value and an important element of their brand.
Reinforcing the buying decision
Customers need to be reminded why they should continue to invest with your firm. Social media posts that reiterate what problem you are trying to solve and how you are solving it help to reinforce their decision. Sharing accolades and other recognition also makes customers feel smart about the partner they’ve chosen to invest with.
In our experience, a social media program focused solely on driving sales leads has diminishing returns. People see through blatant sales efforts and will ultimately tune them out. We find that a social media program that educates, engages and establishes your authority may be just as effective in driving leads in the long run.
Effective social media programs follow a number of best practices. A few of the most important:
- Post insightful content on a regular basis: Never post just because you feel like you have to! You’ll get a better ROI if you post thoughtful, personal or educational content once a week than if you post daily content just because you feel like you should. Figure out a cadence that works for you to generate and post meaningful content.
- Get personal: Posts that feel more human typically receive higher levels of engagement. In the post-COVID landscape, you may be conducting more client meetings from behind a screen, which only makes it harder to connect on a personal level with customers. By posting about yourself, you can boost your relatability to your clients and colleagues online. Next time you’re at a conference, team building retreat or volunteer day, snap a pic and don’t forget to post.
- Don’t forget the social part of social media: social media is supposed to help build connections and facilitate conversations. Engaging in the comments on your posts and commenting on others’ is a great way to grow your audience and reach. Don’t forget to connect with new people that you meet online or in-person at conferences and events, when possible.
Social media is a great way to attract new clients, but there are so many other reasons to use it. In our experience social media outreach programs that are generous, educational and make that human connection will establish your domain authority and remind customers why they hired you.
And for those who haven’t hired you yet? You won’t have to twist their arms; they may hop into the pipeline on their own.