Q: Can agents and advisors use social media for actual client acquisition; and, if so, how?
Amy McIlwain: There is an ongoing debate within the financial industry as to whether social media marketing has a measurable return on investment (ROI). While there are multiple ways to measure the benefits of social media, it’s just not as simple as looking for a direct sales return on the consumer end, with a social media effort being made on the business marketing end. Social media is so much more than a marketing tool.
Social media encompasses public relations, customer support, thought leadership, community relations, and much more. Companies that are making progress in their social activities are seeing comments, interactions, responses and the like.
As a result, they are also seeing business metrics moving: downloads, email registrations, client retention, decreased marketing expenses, increased brand awareness and revenue growth.
For financial professionals utilizing social media, it’s important that they realize how beneficial social media is in building and nurturing relationships. When it comes to selling financial products trust is essential and trust takes time.
This is exactly why it is so difficult to acquire clients directly from social media outlets.
Your goal as an advisor should be to position yourself and your company as an expert in your field by providing content that is of interest or adds value to your clients, insomuch earning their trust and eventually their sale.
Q: But how can you tell if it’s working?
Amy McIlwain: Smart tracking and measuring through online analytics programs will allow you to see the amount of traffic your posts, blogs and content are getting.
If you see some topics getting more hits, comments and interaction than others, change your content strategy to keep your online traffic high. As a result of increasing traffic numbers and online interaction, you should see your business metrics increase as well.
Aside from measuring the ROI of social media on new clients, you should also see an advantageous effect with your current clients as well.
With the constant interaction and communication that social media enables, customer service will benefit and lead to high customer loyalty. And we all know what customer loyalty leads to – referrals. An increase in customer referrals – especially for financial professionals – is key for any business, and adds to that foundation we’ve been talking about.
Question: How difficult is it to measure the ROI?
Amy McIlwain: Financial professionals shouldn’t view social media as the savior to their marketing strategy, but rather as a tool and extension of their offline efforts. Measuring the ROI of social media is difficult for any business, but for financial professionals especially, it’s a complex web of sales, clients, relationships and more.
Many financial professionals have the jaded perspective that if they set up their social networks and offer their products and services online, people will start buying. As we discussed earlier, this definitely isn’t the case.
A well-planned foundation, social media strategy and patience are key. Ultimately, setting goals and understanding the steps necessary to achieve social media success will give financial organizations a better picture of how to measure their social efforts.
About Amy McIlwain President, Financial Social Media, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and worldwide connector, Amy McIlwain is recognized internationally for radical new ways of thinking about Social Media, PR, marketing, advertising, and customer service.
About John Drachman, Senior marketing writer and Series 7 Registered Rep with Alternative Investment Resources, John is also a principal of the creative agency, The Drachman Group, Inc., and is a principal of financial services marketing firm, Advisolocity, and financial automated marketing firm, CaptureTrackConvert.