Financial industry marketing consultants caution financial advisors: Having a just good website is no longer enough. Financial advisors who use blogs and microblogs demonstrate their expertise while building a strong online presence
To build online influence in the age of social media, financial advisors must build a powerful online presence and consistently publish their thought leadership insights through a professional blog site. So says Stephanie Sammons, founder of WiredAdvisor, a company that helps advisors set up search engine optimized (SEO) blogs.
“Blogging allows you to attract your target audience, cultivate relationships, accelerate referrals, and showcase how and why you’re different. It’s all about building digital influence,” Sammons says.
While Sammons asserts that an advisor’s blog should be their online hub, other financial services marketing experts, such as myself, take a slightly different bent by insisting that the advisory firm’s website should serve as their online hub. And despite the difference in opinion, most of our industry’s marketing experts do agree on this: Blogging helps you build a strong online presence in a few strategic of ways.
First, frequent blog postings on your site or a credible third-party site (especially if crossed-linked to your website or a secondary blog) can significantly improve your search engine page rankings. Second, blogging can position you as an expert in your field and a contributor to a body of work or a community of interest.
Blogs don’t always have to be just words, so if writing is not your strong suit, consider video blogging or posting audio content instead.
Andy Millard, CFP®, a NAPFA Registered Advisor and president of fee-only advisory firm Millard & Company, based in Tryon, North Carolina, has mastered the art of producing good-looking video clips — without the help of a professional video team. This allows him to script and capture his thoughts more frequently. He posts his videos on the company website and a stand-along blog, cross-linking the two and using social media sites to “buzz up” the new content. He also uses an e-newsletter to push out the blog posts and videos to his “house email list.”
“My clients and strategic partners love the videos and blog posts,” Millard said in conversations with me at the FPA national conference last year. “It’s really added a richness—a sense of ‘knowingness’—to our business relationships.”
Millard established his first blog on the free Blogspot page he created while at one of the Social Media Boot Camps I led for FPA in 2010. But he later moved to the WordPress platform in order to get a more robust set of features. He uses a mix of audio, video, photos and text to build relationships and communicate with current and prospective clients. (Read more about Millard’s style here).
Twitter = Microblogging
Since Twitter is closely correlated to blogging – after all, it is really just microblogging – and is fairly easy to do (especially if you automate some of the tweets you post, financial advisors should also consider adding Twitter to their top tier social media tactics.
Industry experts say that advisors should post short, catchy headlines and shortened links on Twitter (use link shortening services include www.tinyurl.com and www.bitly.com). Learn to “bottom-line it” and create a bit of intrigue.
Financial advisors should begin to think of himself or herself as a reading service, pointing the way to good information, and then try to engage people who follow him or her. Retweet and comment on posts, be engaged. Mix up your Twitter feed: plan for about 75% business reading service and about 25% personal insights and character-revealing posts.
Those who are new to Twitter should start an account and follow a few people or entities to listen and observe for a while. Good Twitter handles to follow include: @finplan @marieswift @napfa @fpassociation @loringward @bobveres @daviddrucker @fintechie @lindsey2wealth @billwinterberg @peakadvisor @michaelkitces @ragspag @guidevine.
Once an advisor listens and watches for a while, it will all begin to make sense.
Blogging and Content Sharing
Services such as Delicious, have long served as “bookmarking” options for like-minded groups of people. But now Delicious has evolved beyond simply saving links.
“By introducing stacks, we took the first step to transition content sharing on Delicious from a simple URL stream into sleek collections of your passions that include your own voice,” the Delicious site says.
“These days, great content is shared through a whole smorgasbord of social activities like retweeting and liking. When you discover an interesting article or video and want to share it with others, you’re most likely turning to a social media site like Twitter. The need to share links quickly with tweeps while also capturing them for inclusion in a stack led us to our latest feature.”
The new Twitter Connector on Delicious gives you the option of tethering your accounts together, so any link you tweet, retweet or favorite on Twitter is also saved to Delicious.
“This is just our first step in integrating Delicious with your current web habits,” the Delicious blog says. “We will soon offer features like automatically tweeting your activities and adding more social networks to further streamline link-saving and sharing with your friends,” Delicious says.
Blogging and Microblogging: The New Norm
As a marketing consultant who for the past 20+ years has worked with independent financial advisors and the institutions that support them, I’ve seen plenty of change since the Internet became a reality. Remember when financial advisors wondered if putting up a webpage was worth all the time and effort? Fifteen years later, the business community sees that having a great website is an essential element of being seen as a credible professional resource. Now, with the Web 2.0 and interactivity available to business professionals of all service lines and company size, it is clear that having a just good website is no longer enough.