Neil St. Clair, Vestorly’s Chief Growth Officer, recently answered the question: how can financial professionals generate intrigue and interest on social media? Watch the webinar recording here, or read below for his insight.
Your end goal as a financial professional using social media is likely not more follows and retweets for brand awareness, but is new measurable business. The content you post is intended to intrigue someone enough to initiate an offline relationship, not one that exists only in the digital space (this idea is at the core of Intrigue Marketing, a theory of marketing developed by Neil, which you can learn about here.).
Sharing the right content at the right time on social media turns you into a trusted source of content, builds your brand, increases your visibility, and ultimately intrigues people enough to learn more beyond just the content you share. Your goal may not be just to intrigue prospective clients, but also to establish more rapport with current clients or bring a digital aspect to your relationships. In any case, the content you post on social media has the potential to achieve these goals.
A recent study by Cogent Research found that 44% of mass affluent social media users engage with financial companies online – 31% read content that financial companies share on social media, 30% follow or like those companies, and 23% review multimedia content they share like videos and webinars and articles. 38% name company sponsored content and updates as the original source of information they learn about financial companies.
This tells us that many wealth holders and asset owners first become familiar with financial companies and their products through sponsored content on social media, and that nearly half of mass affluent investors surveyed engage with financial companies online. About a third are reading the content they share, developing strong connections and brand awareness.
Still need convincing? 21% of mass affluent social media users use social media to stay up to date on financial trends and companies. 32% seek advice, gather information, and do their due diligence before making financial decisions. 63% both discover financial companies and consider making a financial decision on social media. These users are driven to take action like opening an account or purchasing a product.
Affluent investors do indeed use social media to inform them when making very impactful decisions about their investments. And they do so by engaging with financial companies and the content they share. The study came to some very interesting conclusions, finding a 25-40% opportunity gap between what investors expect from financial companies, and what they’re actually getting. This is an enormous opportunity gap that you have the potential to fill.
If you still need more proof that social media can deliver actual results to your business and impactful ROI, well, you’re not the first financial professional to use social media for business. Many already do so, and their results provide even more evidence of the importance of sharing the right content on social media.
A 2015 study by Putnam Investments found that 81% of financial advisors are using social media for business. 79% of those have gained new clients via social media, with an average asset gain of $4.6MM, but 71% who gained assets were active on a daily basis. Social media accounts are free to set up and be active on, which makes the ROI enormous. The only cost is your time.
You see now the need for social media for business. Investors are using it to discover and research financial companies. Your competitors are using it to close new business. But a huge gap remains in what your prospective clients want and what financial professionals provide.
To use social media to generate intrigue and interest, thereby strengthening connections with your clients and connecting with prospective clients, look to the data. When you’re programming content for your social media channels, you must choose the content people want and share when they want it. Data and hard evidence tell you what and when that is.
Thousands of advisors use Vestorly to share content everyday with their audiences – millions of investors in aggregate. Over the last few years, we’ve tracked 1.3 billion data points from their usage and interactions to find out what they really want.
We’ve found it’s real-time news from premium trusted sources like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. They are more likely to click on posts featuring high quality imagery and will remain to read articles in a modern reading experience. They do not want to jump through hoops to access content you share and they want to read articles on well-designed sites. They don’t want to read old news, articles that aren’t timely or relevant to the day’s, week’s, or month’s events. They don’t want to read canned content, which are white-labeled articles written generically by someone else it, and they won’t click on posts featuring poor images. If your articles take them through a “Web 1.0” experience – imagine the web back as you knew it in 1999 – they will click elsewhere.
All of this can be summed up in one question: would I want to read this? If you’re considering sharing an article that is not something you would click on if you came across it, then why would your audience?
Think about it another way. Consider you hire a real estate agent to sell your home in Pittsburgh. If you notice your agent sharing an article called “Open House Strategies,” you probably wouldn’t click on it because you don’t know when it was written, it’s dry and a little boring, and, after all, you hired a real estate agent to handle the open house for you.
But if your agent shared an article with you written that day by the Pittsburgh Gazette with the headline “Pittsburgh City Council decisions impact 2017 real estate market” you’re more likely to click it. It’s from a source you know, recognize, and trust, it was written that day, it impacts your city and you directly. You may want to call your agent and discuss what it means for you, but the intriguing and trustworthy article first grabbed your attention.
This first Twitter feed from a financial advisor is an example of articles that are not intriguing. The articles don’t have images, don’t link to recognizable sources, and aren’t related to timely news.
In the second, the articles are timely, relevant to the news, and though they might not necessarily be about the services the professional offers directly, they are related to topics that interest people.
After analyzing data from Vestorly’s users, we’ve found many insights about the content people want, and the most important one is there are no hard rules. Every audience is different. There is no magic wand you can wave for the perfect mix of articles. In lieu of a specific topic mix, we’ve identified certain types of content that resonate best on social media.
Investors want to know what’s happening in the markets and the economy and how it affects them, their investments, their future, their children. The particular financial topics and market movements they want to know about will vary. This is different from articles like “RIA vs. Roth IRA” or “Tax Law Changes in 2017.” These are interesting timely articles with a perspective and relevancy to your audience’s particular location, needs, and interests.
Less expected are the topics that fall under what you might call lifestyle, like sports, travel, golf, health, fitness, cooking, family, or education. This encompasses much variation but what’s important to recognize is that people do want to read articles that are not just related to money. They want to read about all kinds of topics, and this is your opportunity to bring it to them. Oftentimes, these articles do indeed connect back to your services. An article on the saving and investment strategies NBA players use will likely receive high engagement, because many will click on anything about their favorite team or star, especially when it comes to their vast wealth. The connection to your services and planning for individual futures is here, and it’s shared through a very clickable article.
Users are more likely to click on premium sources they recognize like The Economist and they’re more likely to trust editorial or opinion pieces from respected journals. Local and regional news sources are just as respected as national, but all will perform better than unheard of blogs or clickbait from shoddy sources.
Timeliness is the most important factor. The most relevant article from the best source doesn’t matter if it’s old. Social media users click on articles relevant to what’s happening right now. Today wouldn’t be a good day to post about the Brexit – it’s big news and important, but we’ve all been reading about that for months. But it’s a good day to talk about the Fed raising interest rates.
This may raise concerns about sharing something you didn’t write with clients and prospects. Yes, your clients do want your personal perspective, but it’s not necessarily what they are likely to click on. Articles from premium sources like The Wall Street Journal are internationally recognized because of the quality, timeliness, imagery, and access to experts. Your audience is more likely to engage initially with third party content than your original thoughts. The content you share on social media is the hook that brings your relationships in for a real conversation.
Additionally, it’s unrealistic to maintain a regular schedule of content production or to write an article immediately in response to every event. Recall that 71% of financial advisors who increased their AUM through social media sharing are posting on a daily basis. You should be posting daily, but you have more important things to do than write an original article every day. Set a realistic content production schedule for yourself of once a month or quarter even, and supplement your activity in the meantime with trusted third party sources.
We spoke about this with one of our users, a large advisory firm, who found the content they write themselves actually gets less intrigue and interest than content shared from a premium third-party source. The firm uses this to their advantage. If, for example, they want to initiate a conversation about estate planning, they won’t write and share an article called “What You Need to Know about Estate Planning.” Instead, they’ll share an article from The Wall Street Journal like “US Aims to Clamp Down on Tactic to Avoid Estate Tax.” It’s from highly recognized and trusted source, and related to timely news. It may be less to the point, but the message is the same: talk to your financial advisor about estate planning.
Our data also indicates when users are most likely to click on your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts. We’ve found that you should be posting daily on your networks, but there is a slight variation when you should be posting to each network.
Facebook: 9am, 1-3pm
Twitter: 3pm, 5-6pm
LinekdIn: 7-8am, 5-6pm
Once you begin implement a social strategy, you must commit to it. When a business’s social media page hasn’t posted in six months, it looks sloppy and reflects poorly on the brand. Commit to your schedule because it turns you into a reliable source of engagement worthy content.
We asked MBM Wealth, a Vestorly user, about their social media strategy and the results they’ve seen. On a weekly basis, they post a link to a library of curated content personalized just for their readers. On a more frequent basis, they post links to timely or relevant articles. They also post these articles on their personal pages too, not just the business page. This is a great trick, because when you first create a business page on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you have no followers. You probably have plenty on your personal pages, and by sharing on personal pages, you’ll reach your network there and bring them back to your business page.
Doing so, MBM has doubled their relationships online, offered more touchpoints to clients and prospects, and increased the flow of information. By sharing so frequently, MBM gets an idea of the articles resonating with their base. They uncover the interests of readers and provide exactly what readers want, which MBM calls a “powerful relationship building tools.”
A well thought out and implemented social strategy is easier said than done. If you’re a wealth manager, social media is not your main business. Realistically, you have more important things to do than finding articles to share all day, and social media will be the first thing to go from your to-do list. There are thousands of tools available to create a social strategy and execute. Two types of these tools helpful in implementing the strategy discussed here are for curating content and for scheduling posts automatically.
There is no shortage of excellent scheduling tools, but for the financial industry, curation tools are limited. These tools have faced some challenges due to compliance departments requiring approval on all articles shared. For that reason, most content curators for financial firms are dry canned articles, and can’t be shared in response to real-time news.
All hope is not lost though. Vestorly is a software that automates a data-based social strategy. It curates content from the best sources for your audience, and automatically shares it on social media, as well as through email newsletters and your website. Vestorly is based on artificial intelligence that examines your audience and what they’re most likely to read, and then suggests the posts most engaging for them so your strategy is personalized.
The data we’ve used to make recommendations about the content people want and when they want it comes from what we’ve seen all of our users and their audiences doing. This data is available in your Vestorly accounts too, so you can examine what’s most impactful, what people like best, enabling you can iterate and improve in the future (or take the suggestions from our intelligent engine).
Since Vestorly was built for financial professionals, we work closely with large enterprises like Pershing and TD Ameritrade and with large independent RIA firms to solve the compliant content problem. Our technology directly integrates into your compliance workflows so you can get quick approval on third-party articles, allowing you to stay timely and relevant. We also track the articles that compliance departments are most likely to approve, so we can further customize our suggested content for sharing.
Your ultimate goal when developing a social media strategy is to share the content that engages readers to intrigue them enough to bring them back to you and your company. Vestorly helps you live and tell stories in digital space through the gift of content. With a more intriguing and interesting digital presence, you’ll draw more people in and initiate more conversations. Get in touch with us to learn more or to speak with Neil directly and social media strategy or Intrigue Marketing.