Social networking sites are an essential way to establish your brand online and get in front of prospective clients you want to communicate with.
People tend to over-complicate social media, but put simply, sites like Twitter and Facebook facilitate conversations and relationships like any other method of real-life networking – except that they are online and the reach is much wider.
Invite client feedback
To really get the most out of social media, you need to know exactly who your client’s are, how to find them and what you want to say to them.
You’ve got to think through your objectives. Are you looking to raise general brand awareness or achieve something specific like educating clients about a particular topic, or inviting client feedback.
Or, you might be thinking about how to reduce the number of clients service phone calls you receive. By setting up a facility on Twitter, for instance, you could invite clients to send in queries that way.
Establish your business as a credible brand
Crucially, it’s not about going in with a pushy sales agenda. Sites typically work by building up relationships between you and your audience so it’s more about establishing your business as a credible brand, or an expert in your field.
Write an informed blog and add regular comments. If people find it useful, they’ll recommend you, and you therefore build up your profile.
So how can a financial advisory firm get started? First, building a successful online presence is no different to any other marketing activity, so it’s important to plan your approach and work out your objectives before diving in.
Connecting with your clients
Equally, you need to identify which social networking site is right for your market. Sites like LinkedIn are more business focused than Facebook or MySpace. According to a survey carried out last October, 73 per cent of businesses used Facebook to connect with clients, while a third used Twitter.
Searching for specific key words and phrases linked to your business will also help you decide where your business should be most visible. If you find lots of groups talking about your area of business and specialism on Facebook, for instance, its worthwhile signing up,
Tools like Tweetdeck, which is free, will monitor references on Twitter and Facebook for you or if your audience is very wide, you could employ a social media agency to do the job.
Influence what people are saying
While you don’t have to be on every site, it’s still advisable to monitor your brand regularly. Lastly, once you’ve signed up to the social networking community, the golden rule is to be proactive. Update your status regularly, keep your blog fresh and make sure you’re getting involved. Otherwise, you won’t be able to influence what people are saying about you and your business. You can’t necessarily control the content, but you can manage it effectively.