Much has been said about the importance of creating a strong online presence if you are a financial advisor (or otherwise). It is now a cliché to even ask, “What’s the first thing people do before or after meeting you?” The answer, of course, is “Google you.” What that Googling individual finds, sees and senses about you and your firm is extremely important. Business can be won or lost depending on a financial advisor’s digital footprint.
We also know that “content is king” when it comes to ranking high on keyword searches. The search engine “spiders” crawl the Internet and catalog sites with keywords such as “financial planning” and “independent advisor.” When someone enters these keywords into their search engine such as Google or Bing, the service looks for sites that are deemed most relevant for that search. Even images and audio/visual files that are tagged with keywords – and are thus part of the search engine cataloging process – can play a part in being more discoverable online.
Of course keywords are just one aspect of coming up high in a search engine page ranking. The services also look at inbound/outbound links, number of pages (amount of keyword rich content) and longevity of the site. We also know that social media accounts are additive. LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter accounts – if they are done right – will show up in a keyword search.
Once people find you, it is important that they see a well thought out digital presence. Study the Content Pyramid and you will see a good way to think about creating content for your blog and social media accounts.
1. Provide relevant content.
Your content creation and sharing strategy should be built on the foundation of providing relevant content. For example, if you want your firm to be known for serving dentists in their pre-retirement years (or teachers in mid-career, or small business owners in a particular city, or members of a particular church or faith-based community, etc.), make sure you post content that speaks directly to them. It should also use words that the search engine spiders will catalog and pull from during keyword searches. When these individuals find you online, they will quickly see that you serve and understand people just like them, with needs and goals similar to theirs. And, if you are posting original content, you will also be demonstrating your expertise.
2. Teach how to.
One way to provide relevant content is to teach people how to do something. In addition to demonstrating your expertise, you will be providing actionable information and advice that can “go viral” in the form of social sharing or emails to friends and family members. Not everyone who visits your site or finds your content online will be ready to call or inquire about services. But if you create a good bank of how-to articles and videos (such as the ones GuideVine has on its consumer blog and YouTube channel) and invite visitors to sign up for periodic email updates, you will be able to nurture those leads over time and determine when a more personal touch might be well received.
Social media, done right, is not just a one-way megaphone. You want people to sense that you are as interested in building a relationship as you are about promoting your own agenda. So, if you want people to engage with you, you also need to engage with them and their causes/interests. For example, if a key focus for you is helping people create predictable retirement income streams and you see a related question on a LinkedIn group to which you belong, post a short comment and link to an article or video created by you or a trusted third-party. Congratulate people when their LinkedIn profile shows a job anniversary or a job change. Pay a compliment to a journalist if you particularly enjoyed a recent article.
The NY Times Insight Group study shows that people share content if they find it useful, funny or inspiring. Look for inspirational quotes and mix them in to your stream of tweets (this is a great strategy to keep the flow of content going — especially when there might be a short drought of other content in the content pyramid). Post on your Facebook page motivational memes (graphic images with words and images). Link out from your website or blog to an article that profiles an unsung hero. Share on LinkedIn a TED talk that moved you. The tone and themed consistency of this inspirational content will give people a sense of your values and personal character. If tenacity is a core value, post a link to a book written by someone who overcame adversity. If kindness is important to you, include an image of, for instance, Mother Teresa and one of her famous quotes.
This is perhaps the hardest element of the content pyramid. One person’s comedy is another person’s low-level slapstick. What tickles your funny bone may not stimulate audience laughter or delight. This does not mean you should throw your hands up and walk away from trying to entertain people. Instead, generate a list of ideas and types of content that you would find entertaining. Include your team and trusted others in the brainstorming process. Would a stick person “explainer video” do the trick? Would a skit or “behind the scenes” video be better? Can you incorporate some casual language or wit-and-wisdom in your next blog piece? Once you have decided on the type of content and purpose of the piece, good execution is essential. Since “entertainment” is at the top of the content pyramid, you won’t need to do more than pepper it in every now and then – but do embrace it in the overarching scheme of things.
Using the content pyramid can help you create a more engaging presence for both current and prospective clients online.