Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Your Business Forecast: Sunny with a Strong Chance of Social, Part 2

By Brianna Regan, Marketing Development Director

Developing a Social Media Plan and Policy

High-performing financial professionals spend considerable time working on their business plans. They are just as prepared for a warm sunny day as they are for a blizzard. They build a foundation to weather changes in the financial environment. They are also effectively integrating all of their marketing initiatives and platforms – to include social media.

I don’t want to spend time belaboring why you need social media, other than to say that having a digital presence, with an up-to-date website and active involvement in social media can lead to business growth, and you’re likely missing out if you don’t. I would love for you to make time to read Part 1 of this series (in the May 2016 issue), where I outlined some important considerations financial professionals must first face when deciding to make social media a part of their practices. Doing so I think will really help set you up for success by laying the foundation and defining what social media will look like for your business.

Now it’s time to take the next step. Let’s take a closer look at developing a social media strategy and a policy to address compliance requirements for your social media program.

Build a Social Media Strategy
Just like traditional forms of communication, a clear and deliberate social strategy should be tied to the business goals of your company. Remember to have a thoughtful and focused approach. Social media is a means to broadcast (or narrowcast) a message and should align with all your other digital marketing and be in sync with your brand. If you haven’t gotten your website and blog up to snuff, clean it up before you move ahead in social media. So much of what you’ll be doing on social media will drive clients and prospects there first. And yes, you need a blog.

Establish Goals
Once you identify the core of your business, you can set goals. The objectives of social media are no different than those of any marketing channel: attract, engage, nurture, and convert. Let these words guide the creation of your goals, and then drill down to the specifics. Complete this sentence: “I want to use social media as a means to…” (e.g. build awareness, increase revenue, grow website traffic). Once you’ve picked maybe two specific goals to start with, set up some key performance indicators that will help you measure your efforts toward meeting those goals.

Determine Your Target Audience and Networks
Financial professionals effectively using social media choose the channels that best help them achieve their specific goals and are on the networks where their clients are. Each specific social network is unique in terms of its audience, benefits, and limitations. If you’re not intimately familiar with the “vibe” of each of the main platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook), don’t be quick to rule out using one or more of them. Do your homework.

Develop Your Social Media Management Process
You’ve set goals, now you need a process in place to meet those objectives. If you will be working with anyone else to manage your social media presence, you will need a map to determine responsibilities. That also must take into consideration any of the duties that will be outsourced. At this step you may want to evaluate whether to use specialized marketing software, dashboards, or tools for scheduling, publishing, monitoring, and archiving.

Establish a Content Strategy and Develop Content
This is going to take a bit of time, so make time to make it good! I will spend a fair amount of time covering content when we visit Part 3 of this series, Implementing Your Social Media Plan. Until then, you should start by building a content library with a variety of pieces that on their own will do one of these four things: educate, enrich, engage, or entertain. Ensure that the content strategy, collection, and curation process aligns with your brand, messaging, established keywords, and of course it is in compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Draft Your Social Media Policy
Write a policy that explains your purpose and direction with social media, that helps you plan and account for potential compliance, legal, and branding issues, and that is practical. Include in it definitions, responsibilities, principles governing use, procedures, and your risk management strategy. Procedures should outline what, how, and where you’re posting, along with how you’re going to review/vet/approve content for regulatory compliance, and keep a record of it. Yes, things like confidential or inappropriate content, illegal activity, offensive conduct, and even bad reviews can and at some point will sneak into social media. Make sure you have a strategy for doing damage control and staying above the fray. This can be a living, breathing policy to help you plan and account for those things. Be willing to revise your policy however often is appropriate for your business and the changing social media landscape, but at least once a year. When all is said and done, it makes good business sense to have a set of manageable “house rules” to protect your practice. Whatever you say you will or will not do in your policy, make sure you stick with it.

The next installment of “Your Business Forecast: Sunny with a Strong Chance of Social” Part 3 will be “go” time… well, almost. There’s still some homework to be done before you implement your social media plan and make that first tweet. Stay tuned!
Brianna Regan | Marketing Development Director
Ann Arbor Annuity Exchange
Ph: 800.321.3924 x123 | Dir: 734.786.6123

Prior to engaging in marketing or social media programs, producers should follow the approval requirements of the carriers they represent and their broker/dealer and registered investment adviser, where needed, and ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Designed for Financial Professionals.