The PESO Model (paid, earned, shared and owned) is a great way to “bucket” out any marketing plan. In my last installment, we discussed “earned” media, such as being quoted in an article, having a piece you wrote published in a newspaper, appearing on a television or radio show, or being featured in the press in some other way. We’ve also already discussed the “paid” category, also known as advertising. Paid media can be helpful in driving business, but anything that is purchased is seen as less credible than placements that are earned. This installment of the series will focus on “shared” strategies, also known as “social media.”
While shared content is an important and distinct segment of the PESO model, it does go hand-in-hand with each of the other elements. Your social media strategy is closely related to “owned” assets, such as your website and blog, which as your primary online presence should serve as a platform for thought leadership and subject matter expertise upon which you can pull content for your shared content strategy. In addition to boosting your credibility overall, “earned” media can also provide some valuable content to feature on your social media profiles. Finally, some media can be seen as both “shared” and “paid” in the form of sponsored posts or promoted content on social media platforms. Social media is the one element that ties all of the others together through shared posts.
Social media is continually evolving, but you know you are mastering the art of sharing highly relevant content when people start liking, commenting on and sharing your posts with their networks. When sharing occurs, firms experience a new form of earned visibility that may help derive new business. But what type of content is best to share on your social media accounts to attract the most engagement?
BUILDING SHARE OF MIND
Rick Kahler, CFP®, President of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, South Dakota tries to find a good mix of content, the goal being to find a balance between promotional, educational, and business-casual communications. Kahler has been utilizing social media for his business since 2009, so is a fairly early adopter compared to most advisors. While he didn’t know what he was doing at first, he continues to learn and figure it out as he goes. However, one thing he has always been sure about is the value that social media can have in a business.
Utilizing social media is a great way to get your name out there and build share of mind. It also allows you to connect with your current and prospective clients, business partners, and extended audience on a more personal, human level. “Social media is a huge medium and valuable way to connect with people and find out what’s going on in clients’ lives,” Kahler said. “Oftentimes, I’ll find out more from Facebook about clients than what they actually tell me.”
Kahler has business profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. He utilizes each platform differently and robustly – especially when compared to most advisors. It’s good to be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter at the very minimum, and add in Google+, YouTube (especially if you feature lots of videos about your firm), Instagram, Pinterest, and others if a large following of your prospects and clients are on a certain platform and you find it intriguing. Even if you are not planning on actively using a certain platform, it doesn’t hurt to sign up for an account, create a basic profile, and stake out your online real estate.
Each social media platform is unique and utilized differently because of different purposes and different audiences. For example, while LinkedIn is seen as a strictly professional social media network that should only feature professional and/or business related content, it is okay on a Facebook business page to show the more personal side of yourself and your business.
Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, South Carolina, founded by CFP® Cheryl Holland, does an especially good job showing the culture, values and spirit of the company to Facebook visitors, where they show a fun and personal side of the company. Abacus does not publish tons of boring market commentary on their Facebook page – instead you’ll find lots of photos with interesting captions, providing a photo essay of sorts that helps viewers get a quick glimpse into the people and personality of the firm. In this age of digital transparency, Abacus holds back the curtain and allows people to see the culture of their firm – to see humans celebrating milestones, living life, and working together for the benefit of their clients.
THE RIGHT MIX
While Abacus does share a lot of personal content giving an inside look into the culture of the firm, they create and share plenty of custom educational content as well. Not only do they feature a monthly blog post on their website, but they also produce a monthly “Smart Notes’ newsletter with contributions from multiple team members, which provides articles, links, and tools to help recipients make sound financial decisions, as well as to update clients on recent happenings within the firm. Both the newsletter and blog posts are prominently featured on Abacus’ beautiful and fresh website, emailed out to clients, and also buzzed up on their social media profiles.
When it comes to creating content for his firm’s social media profiles, Kahler utilizes a handful of different strategies in order to create a good mix of content. First and foremost, every week Kahler personally writes and posts an educational blog post touching on a subject he thinks his clients and his audience will find useful. These blog posts are housed on the Kahler Financial Group website, but are subsequently pushed out as meaningful content on all of their different social media accounts. Kahler says that most new business comes from people reading his weekly blog, which is also featured in two local newspapers.
In addition to featuring the blog post in text on the company website, Kahler also records a short video discussing the content for people who would rather watch and listen than read. The videos are also uploaded to the firm’s YouTube channel and published to Kahler’s social media profiles for maximum exposure. By including these videos in their social media content, Rick is providing a strong digital asset to ramp up engagement and increase online presence: Studies show that people share video links twelve times more often (and images two times more often) than they do simple text and links alone.
GETTING IT ALL DONE
Kahler does admit that it can be hard to make time to stay on top of everything. He has been using an outsourced social media manager to find and post relevant content on the Kahler Financial Group’s social media pages, handle routine maintenance, update the profiles, and make sure that there is a consistent theme, brand, and message across all of the profiles. Kahler does hope at some point to have an internal team member handle social media management. However, no one currently at the firm has the knowledge or the passion to handle those duties.
Regardless of if you’re hiring a new team member to handle social media management, assigning the role to an existing internal team member, or outsourcing the duties to a contractor, Kahler recommends looking to Millennials for help. Members of younger generations often have a higher understanding of the inner workings of social media because they grew up with it. Also, you can often hire competent college students to handle your social media efforts at a discounted rate.
Rather than create a full-time position for the specific role of social media manager or outsource the duties to a contractor, Abacus has assigned the main portion of the duties to a younger advisor within the firm. The firm also spreads the responsibility around to each and every team member. Abacus’ social media strategy, as well as their Smart Notes newsletter, blog posts, and other content generated to share, is truly a group effort.
No matter who handles your social media strategy, Kahler notes that it’s important to be intentional about what you’re doing, posting, and how you’re presenting yourself. “What do I want to use each platform for? What kind of audiences do I want to reach? How do I want to present myself? What kind of content do I want to feature? What do I want to be known for? I think being more intentional in your social media efforts is imperative when getting started. It’s important for getting new business in this day and age.”
Kahler also notes that to maximize the effectiveness of your social media efforts and make it worth your while, some resources will need to be committed. A good social media presence is not free and does not happen overnight; it will take a little bit of money and a decent amount of time. But if you do it right, your social media presence can enhance your brand and lead to valuable new business. “We haven’t had to do as much traditional marketing and advertising lately because the Internet has been our ally in bringing new business to us.”