By Brianna Regan, Marketing Development Director
Implementing Your Social Media Plan
It’s sunny and the ugliness of winter is far behind us. The financial services environment has weathered a lot already this year. Those high-performing financial professionals (FPs) that have prepared well and continue to work their business plans are seeing success. They are effectively integrating all of their marketing initiatives and platforms – to include social media – to stay in front of their clients and help them achieve their retirement income planning goals.
Social media continues to permeate the financial services landscape.
As Hootsuite’s Financial Services Global Industry Principal Amy McIlwain puts it, “Your clients are here, your competitors are here, and if you want to remain relevant in today’s digital world your company needs to be here as well.” That’s why I’ve made it my goal to give you a social media “how to” broken into action plans, if you will. What you need to put forth is effort, dedication, and time to really dig into each principle and get social media set up the right way for your practice. To recap, in Part 1 we covered important considerations FPs must first face when deciding to make social media a part of their practices. Doing so helps set you up for success by laying the foundation and defining what social media will look like for your business (Annuity News & Lifelines, May 2016). Then in Part 2 it was on to developing a social media strategy and a policy to address compliance requirements for your social media program (Annuity News & Lifelines, November/December 2016).
If you’ve spent time and resources to get all that lined up, you’re well on your way to being able to now implement your social media plan. Here’s how you do it.
Financial services is a relationship business, and social media is all about building relationships. You certainly don’t want to shove your business card in their face with your posts. There’s power in listening first, gathering intelligence, and then talking. Activity of your clients (and those whom you are looking to attract) on social media can reveal a lot about their needs and interests. They might post links to their latest reading materials or comment on market trends that intrigue them. Listening to these things = future conversation starters/content ideas.
So what are you going to post about? Let’s focus on two components of content marketing: curation and distribution.
Consumers have to sort through an overwhelming amount of marketing barraging them each day, and it’s instinctual to ignore marketing messages. Carefully consider the material and content you publish. Is it relevant and targeted? It should be of value to your readers and keep them wanting more – and 80% of the time it should not be about selling. Attempt to win over consumers by providing information that is more help and less hype, that establishes you as a trusted source and a thought leader. Think also about how your content can motivate clients and prospects on social media to take action.
Keep in mind that the nature of social media marketing is not to make specific recommendations, but to offer general information, entertaining articles and videos, and to connect with followers on a personal level. The key to two-way communication is to make it personalized and scalable.
When it is about selling, remember that the golden rule of compliant advertising is to be clear about what you are selling and to whom, if you are actually talking about specific products/services. Also remember that insurance carriers may have approval requirements if you mention them, their products, or specific features of their products (e.g., rates or riders). Work to ensure that the content you’re considering using/reposting/sharing is authored by credible sources when you are not the original author, and at all times ensure compliance with applicable regulations. Posting just to post and “be” on social media should never be your end goal. Also, the voice/tone of each platform varies, so keep in mind that although you may want to be consistent on all your profiles, you will likely need to tailor your messages.
If you’re getting lost in all the great potential content that’s out there, go back and review your social media and content strategies to make sure that what you’re putting in your library aligns with your goals. Stop and ask yourself if the content you’re considering does at least one of these four things: educates, enriches, engages, or entertains. I really like what this author says about organizing content:
“A compelling and engaging social media profile should feature a 3:2:1 ratio of evergreen, topical and personal content. Evergreen content is focused, informative, and educational. It never expires and stays “fresh” longer. Evergreen content is essential to utilize because it makes it easier for you to stay relevant. Topical content relates to a very timely piece, such as a news event, a legislative change that affects financial planning, or another topic that is worthy of exploration at that time. This is your opportunity to dive deeper into the issues that relate most to your specialties or followers’ interests. And lastly, personal content transforms you from a digital stranger to a real person.”
How will you communicate via social media in such a way that you are adding value and building relationships? In much the same way you would do in person, over the phone, or via email, work to create trust and establish rapport.
Consider whether or not you want to use third-party tools to organize campaigns. Many will provide ways to create an editorial calendar, publish to social platforms simultaneously, and find likely new followers, among other features. As required, have your monitoring and archiving tools in place.
So are you ready to post and tweet? The future for your business and social media is bright – grab your shades and let’s do this. Make sure you come back to read Part 4 of “Your Business Forecast: Sunny with a Strong Chance of Social”, where we’ll help make sure you’re managing your social media presence day-to-day and assessing results.
Brianna Regan | Marketing Development Director
Ann Arbor Annuity Exchange
Ph: 800.321.3924 x123 | Dir: 734.786.6123
 Aynsley, Michael. “How the Financial Industry Can Embrace Social Media and Remain Compliant” Hootsuite. 25 Apr 2016. Web. Accessed on 22 Mar 2017 at https://blog.hootsuite.com/financial-industry-social-media/
 Faulkner, Craig. “The 4 biggest social media mistakes advisers make” Financial-Planning.com. 10 Jun 2016. Web. Accessed on 22 Mar 2017 at https://www.financial-planning.com/opinion/the-4-biggest-social-media-mistakes-advisers-make
Designed for Financial Professionals.