6 Social Media Tips and Traps for Beginners

When leaving a wirehouse to start your own independent financial firm, you’ll want to create some buzz around your new venture. One way to do this is through social media marketing. This will not only help spread the news that you’ve started your own practice, but also aid in turning existing prospects into clients.

You may be surprised by the effect a little creativity and a disciplined focus on social media efforts can have on your new firm. According to a recent survey, nearly 50 percent of investors say they consider social media presence when hiring a financial professional. And one in five investors—regardless of their age or assets—use a financial professional’s social media activity as the sole determinant of whether to hire them.

As you introduce your independent practice to the world of social media, here are six tips and traps to keep in mind:

1. Tip: Start with one social platform and focus on it.

Did you know there are more than 100 social media platforms available? Some experts recommend posting upward of three to five times per day on certain networks. That goal is a bit lofty, even for the most seasoned social media users.

Instead of trying to learn and post to multiple platforms, choose the one that will be most meaningful to your business and target audience; master that platform first.

For financial professionals, LinkedIn can be a great starting point. It’s the largest professional network—hosting more than 800 million people—and allows you to connect with potential clients, employees, and business partners. And, because the optimal posting frequency on LinkedIn is only two to five times per week, it can be more manageable than other platforms.

Remember, it’s okay to start small and ramp up your efforts as your team and resources grow.

2. Trap: Not verifying whether your profile and content are compliant.

Rules for social media use vary depending on your affiliation model and your company’s individual policy. Make sure you’re familiar with the rules, and when in doubt about a post or content on your profile, check in with your compliance partner (not every firm’s policies are the same). In fact, you should run everything you plan to share by them to avoid any potential problems.

Some examples of industry-wide guidelines include:

  • Avoiding posting business-related content on your personal social media accounts because doing so makes record-keeping more challenging.
  • Not posting third-party links if you know the party shares false or misleading content.
  • Exercising caution and ensuring audience suitability are key when recommending specific financial products.
  • Ensuring that your social media are fair and balanced, giving your audience the full view of both the potential risks and rewards of a given investment.
  • Keeping posts clear, honest, and free of exaggeration, misleading statements, or omissions of fact.
  • Ensuring that posts do not suggest that past performance is indicative of future results.

If you hire other advisors to work for your firm, it’s important to train them on social media compliance rules as well.

3. Tip: It’s not all about you.

Social media is a great place to share your insights and promote your business, and it also provides an opportunity to listen to your audience—and engage with them on a personal level. You can learn a lot by following clients and prospects on social media and using that information to better connect with and serve them.

For example, when you see that someone grew their family, changed jobs, retired, or launched a business, take the time to send them congratulations. It’s a great way to continue to build your working relationship.

One way to connect with like-minded professionals is through social groups such as LinkedIn Groups. There’s a lot you can do to build brand awareness and thought leadership—find a group that shares your interests, post content, and comment on others’ posts.

4. Trap: Not linking to your website or a simple landing page.

Social media can be a valuable tool for getting more traffic to your website or blog. Typically, an “About” section on your profile is a prime spot to direct people to a webpage where they can learn more about your business and the services you offer.

Depending on your objective, you could send people to your main homepage, relevant or popular content on your blog, or a landing page where they can sign up for a free consultation or subscribe to your newsletter.

No matter what you choose to link, make sure that:

  • It’s functional and leads where you intended,
  • Users have a clear direction for what you want them to do, and
  • It avoids unnecessary searching or multiple clicks to get to the desired content.

As always, be sure to include any relevant links in your posted content.

5. Tip: Check all posts and content carefully.

Poorly crafted social media posts might capture your audience’s attention—but for all the wrong reasons. Even worse, major mistakes could hurt your credibility and discourage people from doing business with you.

Before you publish your content, run through a checklist to ensure that there are no mistakes and that the material is accurate and engaging.

Here are some questions to consider before hitting the “Post” button:

  • Audience: Does your post speak to your target market and their concerns? Is it relevant to their needs?
  • Flow and clarity: Does your post flow logically, and is your message clear?
  • Spelling and grammar: Is your content free of spelling and grammatical errors?
  • Links: Are links in your post functional, and do they direct your audience to the right place?
  • Timing and context: Could the post in any way be considered tone-deaf or ignorant of a prevailing news cycle or event?

6. Trap: Posting without a plan.

There’s no shortage of information you can share with your audience, and that can become overwhelming. Having a well-rounded strategy to publish a steady stream of content will alleviate this stress and ensure that you not only rotate content topics, but also vary the ways you share your thoughts on those topics—for example, via blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and so forth.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few content suggestions:

  • Define a financial term
  • Bust a money-related myth
  • Answer common questions about financial concepts or current events
  • Share your commentary on an infographic or article from another source
  • Advertise a webinar or event

Keep note of which types of content (and topics) perform well by reviewing the number of likes, shares, and comments to measure engagement on the social platforms where you post. That way you can create and post more of what your target audience wants.

Choose a partner to help you get started

There are many moving parts to a social media marketing plan. Even as an independent advisor, you don’t have to go it alone. If you need guidance—or want someone to work alongside you and help bring it all together—contact us today!

Please consult your member firm’s policies and obtain prior approval for any sales ideas or applications you would like to use with clients.

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