Social media marketing has been one of the most controversial marketing tools for financial industry (small biz). On other hand, marketers absolutely in love with social media because it is one of easiest ways to implement and measure when it comes to marketing efforts. Apart from referrals I cannot think of a better marketing tool than social media.
Saying that, I am a strong believer in the full implementation of a whole marketing machine including website, landing pages, data capturing tools, email marketing, public relations, content, blogging, social media and sales.
I’ve been lucky to work with a few financial industry businesses helping with their events, email marketing, content and social media. I’ve gone through a massive learning curve I am very eager to share with anyone starting up their content or social media marketing. They say, if in doubt – don’t do it. This is true to some extent. When we face the unknown we are more pron to errors. However, if never approached – never learnt hence never benefited from. I encourage financial planners and accountants to take a tiny little bit of interest in their marketing strategy, spend more time with their marketing managers or agencies. Similarly, we all should be taking more care of our financial statements.
Financial advisers, mortgage brokers, accountants, business coaches and IT providers can benefit from implementing social media strategy; however many are missing out on this opportunity. I can’t blame them. There are three main reasons I’ve identified why financial industry businesses fail to utilize social media.
- First of all, lack of understanding how social media works as well as sour experience of dealing with bad social media marketers.
- Secondly, not giving it enough time and expecting quick ROI.
- Finally, an assumption that social media only works with retail and that Facebook is for teenagers to post their food pictures and inappropriate self portraits.
Social media provides a common space for users to hang out. Businesses are also invited to hang out… with their customers. Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others, provides a channel for businesses to communicate their offerings through.
Financial planners, mortgage brokers, accountants and business coaches are, in fact, extremely suitable businesses for social media. No doubt that retail and other mainly B2C businesses are doing really well using their social media channels. Mind you though, they are doing well because they are targeting their audience correctly. There are hundreds of B2C businesses doing it wrong as well.
There are a few important elements to keep in mind when building your B2B business digital presence.
- First of all, your message aka content. Keep it short, clear and fun. Less selling – more helping.
- Secondly, image quality is crucial. Ditch your little pixelated Google images and adopt high resolution branded pictures.
- Finally, be relevant to your customers aka provide information your customers are looking for instead of selling to them.
I am sure you are familiar with all three elements and probably have been told a numerous times about them. However I am going to try my best to explain in different way how and why each of the mentioned social media elements can make your business rock. Social media is not a rocket science; however if badly explained it is most likely never understood.
When I say ‘good content’ I mean easy to read, quick and clear. I don’t mean that you need a 1000 word essay about how amazing your business is. I am sure it is. However on social media, ‘strangers’ don’t care. What they might care about is health co-payments news, discounted holiday vouchers, new child’s care facilities in the area and a new BMW range release. In other words, people want to read about themselves. People want to know things that would make their lives better, easier, funner, cheaper, crazier, calmer, etc, etc, etc.
I decided to bring an example in to show you what I mean. American Express (image below) has nothing to do with sunsets or surfing or anything remotely related to water sports or beach culture. Or does it? The image below is a snapshot of the American Express Facebook Page which is a colorful representation of what their customers like. Do you want to read about how amazing their credit card policies are or do you want to read about the best places in Australia to go on holidays to? Well, 2100 people liked the idea of best summer places in Australia and 146 people liked it so much they wishes they had it on their wall so they shared it.
This doesn’t mean that now American Express has 100 new clients or Facebook paid them for being awesome. Most likely they will be paying Facebook to get such even moderate results. However 146 people who shared the American Express image and 2100 people who liked it have now exposed the American Express brand to their network including their friends, family, work, etc.
Thus, this is 2246 opportunities to spread a word about your awesome business. All these brand ambassadors have shown your business to everyone in their network. Potentially, we are talking about exposure to hundreds and hundred thousands of people with the help of one warm worded content, high resolution image and zero selling Facebook post.
So why many small businesses in the financial industry don’t get it? Well, everyone has their own reasons. However I’ve learnt a few typical perception mistakes which many of us are guilty of from time to time.
Many financial industry businesses believe that they are bound to be serious and boring. Professionalism is not just a word for them, it is almost a legal obligation. Many business owners are slightly scared of being different. No wonder, standing out means being noticed which will attract both positive and negative feedback from the outside world. Moreover, becoming different most likely means adjusting your branding or maybe even totally re-branding your business. Losing the identity you are very comfortable with is extremely hard and no doubt painful. No change is easy. However nothing good comes from easy. Saying that, I don’t preach leg breaking changes but I encourage small adjustments.
Here are a few small changes tips for financial industry small businesses:
- Allocate a few hours on deciding who is your best client. Write down their characteristics, habits, marital status, interests, hobbies etc. Identify 3 key themes you know your customers are interested in. For example, a friend of mine is a business coach. His best client (by ‘best’ I mean the one it is easier to sell to and you enjoy working with) is a business woman wishing to start her own business instead of working for someone her entire life, she is recently married, loves traveling, exercise and planing children within the next 3-5 years. My friend identified 3 themes his best clients loves: business tips, travel & active lifestyle and children & home planning.
- When you have your 3 key themes, spend a good day or two browsing around for good sources of information you could share on your social media. Spend some time finding copyright free high resolution images. When you find your articles, images, infographics or you make them all this is your content you are now ready to unleash.
- Plan your content. Take a calendar, print or online, and write down what, where and when you will be posting. Before even creating your Facebook page, make sure your entire month in advance is full of content. Start posting 3-4 days a week and see how you go.
This is your little start: go with two social media channels, research your customers, identify themes / topics you want to be an expert in, plan your posts and start scheduling. It’s free! It’s easy! It’s fun when you get into it!
There is more to it,of course; however this is something to start your social media adventure with. If you feel like you don’t know what to share on social media you are probably thinking about your industry and your business. Start thinking about your clients, their business, their life, their problems, etc and the content ideas will start flowing to you.
Similar concept is applicable to blogging. If you decided to start a blog page on your website, congratulations – this is an awesome way of growing your brand. However, you need to think it through, plan ahead and take it seriously just like you think of your business.
I will share more tips on content creation and planning for your business blogging. Feel free to send me your particular questions so I can include them in my next blog post.