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The 4Cs: Content Creation Tips and Resources for Busy Financial Advisors

Are you using the 4Cs of content creation to build a compelling digital presence?

As discussed in a previous post, a Content Pyramid can help financial advisors build and maintain a compelling online presence; however, creating new content can take time. By using the 4Cs of content creation you will be able to effectively leverage your time and still be able to build a compelling digital presence.

1. CANNED CONTENT

In the push to become a part of the social media scene, many financial advisors have decided that the easiest and safest thing to do is to fill their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts with pre-approved content, typically provided by their broker/dealer or a firm that produces ready-to-use content for a fee. This is sometimes referred to as “canned content,” because it’s easy to serve up. Ultimately, canned content is only as good as the firm providing it and may lack the personality and style you would want convey if you were to create it on your own. The key is to find a content partner that has a similar communications style and topical interests that mesh with you and your readers.

Relying on just canned content is usually a mistake – anyone who’s following you for a while will begin to sense it’s not coming directly from you. If not supplemented with interactivity (what most social media experts call “community engagement”), any form of content – whether canned, curated, custom or celebrity – will become a one-way megaphone of sorts. Still, using canned content can serve as a useful base on which to build – and it’s a safe, compliant way to get a steady stream of information going on all of your social accounts.

Based on the graphic below, of the 4Cs, canned content is easiest. There are some firms that provide canned content, including Advisor Launchpad, FMG Suite, Marketing Pro, and Broadridge Advisor Solutions. You should also remember to check with your broker/dealer, custodian, asset managers, and/or coaching program (e.g., CEG, Platinum, Clientwise, BAI, Oechsli) to see what they may offer.

4Cs

2. CURATED CONTENT

Another way to fill the ongoing need for content is to curate it, which requires pulling together, selecting and presenting content in a way that’s engaging to your audience. Focus on choosing content that will provide value to your clients and minimize conflicts of interest. Try not to curate content that includes a competitor (unless you’re also in the article). Make sure the articles you select will resonate with your audience.

If you decide to outsource the selection and sharing of content to a service provider with an automated service, or to a marketing consultant or trusted staff person, be sure they understand your business model, investment philosophy, and what is and is not acceptable to include. And do a spot check from time to time to ensure that you agree with what they are selecting and sharing on your company’s behalf. If a pre-approval is needed for compliance (or for your own comfort), find a way to streamline those reviews before the posts are seen online.

A great way to curate content is for you to simply “share” to your social networks (using the share buttons that are, more often than not, built in to web pages) whenever you are reading or viewing something you believe is in-line with your brand’s message. This is an easy way to create a stream of curated content that is up to your standards. Your curated content strategy will be free, if you do it yourself, and can be reasonable in cost if you outsource it to a professional partner.

Curating content is relatively easy to do and can add another dimension to your content mix. Like all of the 4C’s, it’s still a one-way megaphone so remember to build relationships with other people and brands by retweeting, liking and sharing their content. If you have good original and curated content, they may reciprocate by sharing what you post as well.

Grapevine6 and Gainfully are two services that could be helpful in identifying content that would be of interested to your audience. As always, check with your broker/dealer, custodian, asset managers, and/or coaching program (e.g., CEG, Platinum, Clientwise, Peak) to see what they may offer. They may provide a nice mix of ready-to-use canned and curated content.

You or your existing staff members and/or outsourced marketing assistant, PR firm, etc. may wish to supplement the turnkey solutions in an effort to create a more human-driven and precise flow. Make sure anyone serving as your proxy or posting on your firm’s behalf understands your goals, objectives and nuances of your content. For instance, my firm, Impact Communications, routinely builds in to our PR retainer plans a social media “community manager” who posts the right mix of content (using the 4 C’s strategy). The community manager gets to know the advisor and reports in regularly. He or she also takes care monitoring the firm’s online presence and working to create audience engagement.

3. CUSTOM CONTENT

Of course the very best way to demonstrate your character, values and expertise is to create your own articles, infographics, and other educational content, and to then push those custom-created content pieces out onto social media. This is sometimes easier said than done.

The trick is to play to your strengths and delegate or outsource the rest. For example, if you are better at speaking than writing, recording podcasts or short videos will be engaging to your audience. If you are better at writing than speaking, blog posts and whitepapers may be a better way to create content that will resonate with your clientele. We also know from recent studies that people tend to share videos, infographics and images more often than they share just text and links alone, so a “best practice” would be to include some multimedia in your custom content plan.

The key to engaging content is to establish a cadence and commit to it so that a high degree of consistency is seen online.

Some of the turnkey solutions providers above offer custom content creation services, or you may decide to tap into existing talent within your firm or via a local resource. And you need help finding a reliable resource, GuideVine can help.

4. CELEBRITY CONTENT

Being seen in articles, published by a credible third-party site or respected media outlet, is more important than ever. Anyone can publish their own blog or eBook, but not just anyone can be published in The Journal of Financial Planning or be quoted as an expert in The New York Times. Being seen consistently and over time in trade and personal finance publications, on radio, television and digital platforms, can create a “halo effect.” Since you’ve been vetted by a respected and unpaid third-party, you are seen as more credible and competent than your peers. Studies show that PR is typically seen as three to five times more credible than paid advertisements.

In addition to the immediate visibility and long-lasting search engine value that occurs when a media mention or bylined article publishes on a credible third-party site, Celebrity Content can super-power your social media strategy.

The trick is to thump your chest lightly. Some call this mastering the art of the “humble brag.” A simple strategy would be to say something like this before posting the link to the article:

  • “Great article in the NY Times on retirement shortfalls and how to overcome savings challenges. Happy to have served as a source – or –
  • “Why do people fall short of their retirement planning goals? XYZ writer has the answers. Pleased my advice was included.”

Because you are one of the experts quoted in the article, you gain instant credibility. If the article carries your byline, your halo could shine even more brightly. You’re positioning yourself as a trusted expert who’s good enough to be published by or quoted in a top publication or online outlet. If you are interviewed on a radio or television station, it is important to notify your social media circles and clients via email by taking the humble brag approach.

You will notice in the 4C’s graphic that Celebrity Content is the hardest to achieve because you must pass muster with the journalist or media outlet first. But in the leveraging of the media mention or bylined publication, you gain much more than just the initial occurrence. Curating your own media mentions should be an important part of your social media and website strategy.

Use the 4C’s to structure your digital content strategy. The old slogan “content is king” is more true than ever before! People define you by what they see online. Make sure you have a robust mix of content and a strong online presence to stand out from the robos and other competing firms.

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