Many financial advisors remain understandably leery about using social media especially in the face of regulatory compliance. However, they may be losing out on opportunities. According to the Cogent’s research report, “Social Media’s Impact on Personal Finance and Investing,” one-third of affluent investors use social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.
Time to Change Opinion on Social Media?
Furthermore, the report states that nearly 70 percent of investors have reallocated investments, or started or change relationships with advisors based on content found through social media. And FINRA has issued several notices clarifying the rules for advisers using social media. Advisors will be hard-pressed to find reasons not to investigate social media. Don’t know where to start? Begin with Three social media guidelines for financial advisors.
One of the more important factors is the ability to archive all online conversations. Social media management firms, social CRM and message archiving technology from the following companies will help advisors satisfy the requirement. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but one to give you an idea of what’s out there.
Actiance’s compliance management platform helps manage organization’s real-time communication, collaboration and social networking to ensure they meet regulatory requirements. Actiance includes audit trails, real-time content review and secure archiving for all communications channels.
RegEd Arkovi Social Media Archiving platform archives email, social media communications and YouTube, including profiles, company pages, comments by everyone — not just the employees, likes and so on. RegEd supports Google Apps, Office 365 and offers on-demand audit reports and search exports. The company also has various compliance and risk management tools and training.
Designed for FINRA and SEC compliance among others, Erado’s suite of products review content in real time and near time, and capture, archive, secure and encrypt electronic communications, such as email, social media activities and instant messaging. The company also helps with developing a corporate compliance policy and provides disaster recovery services.
Hearsay Social Compliance Solution captures and archives all social communications across devices, locations and access points. The platform continuously monitors all content in real-time for instant remediation. Hearsay’s dashboard consists of pre-approval workflow, real-time alerts, supervision and approval trails and infraction resolution.
Smarsh hosted email archiving and compliance platform captures and archives every email and internal message, and includes search, supervision and on-demand export features. Smarsh’s Virtual Compliance Officer for electronic message supervision activities is integrated with the company’s hosted message archiving platform. This tool searches all communications and takes action based on customized policies.
Socialware software and services helps organizations use social media securely and stay within compliance on the corporate network and mobile devices. Socialware Compliance lets organizations define and automate social media compliance policies and create workflows and processes.
Before You Invest in Social Media Tools …
Most of these companies state that technology also needs people, processes, policies and strategies. Organizations can’t rely on technology alone for complying with regulation requirements and benefiting from social media and other communications. Any company that says otherwise is probably one to avoid.
Social media has one advantage over other modes of communication: online technology. Because of this, everything said and done in social media is stored. This makes the data searchable, trackable and reportable. Again, technology doesn’t cover everything. Financial advisors need to be educated and incorporate social media strategy into the business strategy.
Many people struggle with small talk or feel awkward when simply checking in with someone. It gets old to send a note that says, “Hope this finds you well. Just wanted to check in with you. How are you?”
LinkedIn Contacts is trying to help. LinkedIn has added some new features that remove some of the anxiety that comes with staying in touch with professional contacts. It’s a useful marketing tool, especially for small and one-person businesses.
Here are six stress-free ways to stay in touch using LinkedIn.
1. Send congratulations!
If you opt-in, LinkedIn emails you daily updates on your connections that have a new or changed status. It could be a new job, job anniversary, birthday, promotion or appearance in an article.
Before sending hearty congrats, check your contact’s profile to make sure the change is really news. Some marketing experts are recommending that you change your headline every month or so, just to show up in the update list. If your contact has simply changed the wording, you might want to skip the congratulations – or you could comment on the change and ask if that’s working for them.
For true new or changed jobs, in addition to the congratulations, you have an opportunity to learn what they do on a daily basis and what kind of help or resources they may need, so you can keep an eye out for them and see if you can help. Make a note of their responses in their profile under Relationship. (Only you can see this.) Better yet, schedule a reminder to follow up.
2. Add your regular clients to your profile
LinkedIn adds new features all the time. And one of those allowed people to add clients they work with on a steady basis. Posting one you’ve worked with for a long time allows people who get the updates to see the addition.
They might think you have a new job and send you congratulations. But that actually gives you a good excuse to have a conversation. Write back with a note of thanks, explain you were taking advantage of a new feature (in case they don’t know about it) and ask what they’re working on.
3. Connect with contacts on your travels
Traveling for an event, meeting or even to visit family? Before you depart, look to see which contacts live in the area of your destination. Reach out to see if they’d like to meet up. Set the meeting before you leave and ensure you have contact information in case you’re delayed or plans changed.
4. Reconnect with those you haven’t contacted with in a while
Browse your connections for people you haven’t had a conversation with for a long time. In case you have a lot of connections, filter by “Connections Only” to shorten the list. List still too long? Shorten it by filtering by company, tag, location and other fields.
By default, contacts are sorted by “Recent Conversations,” so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find older conversations. (The Page Down button comes in handy here.) LinkedIn bases your last conversation on LinkedIn activity and email — if you’ve connected your Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook email account to LinkedIn. (See sync your contacts.) Beware of this in case you’ve chatted with a contact on Twitter, Facebook or other social network. Remember to keep notes in the person’s profile.
5. Use reminders
Next time you have a conversation with a connection, note special details, such as plans to speak at a conference, go on a fishing trip with the kids and so on. Put this note in the person’s profile and set a reminder to follow up with the person after the event occurs to ask about it.
6. Share curated content
How many times have you seen a great article and shared it with someone? Why not use LinkedIn to share curated content? You get bonus points if you add commentary. Next time you find an insightful article worth sharing, use LinkedIn’s filters to find people in a related job, industry or location that are likely to benefit from the article and forward it along.
What other ways do you use LinkedIn to connect? How has using LinkedIn Contacts helped you?
According to B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, roughly 93 percent of your organizations do content marketing. Although you probably already use content marketing, it’s important to define it as you’ll see why in about six seconds. Content marketing is the practice of creating and sharing relevant and valuable content to acquire, maintain and engage your target market.
Many marketers mistake this to mean producing articles, reports, ebooks and blog posts talking about their products and services. This isn’t content marketing. This is selling, or egocentric content marketing.
Content marketing also doesn’t mean churning content or creating content from scratch every time. Content curation is just as valuable. MarketingSherpa has a case study in which a software company used curation marketing to grow its subscriber list by 130 percent in the first year and 70 percent in the second year.
Curation isn’t just posting the title of the article and a link. Even on 140-character Twitter, effective tweeters find a way to add commentary about a curated article. In fact, there are six content curation strategies:
- Abstracting: Using the first few sentences of the original article.
- Summarizing: Writing a short summary of the original article.
- Quoting: Sharing a quote from the original article and adding brief commentary.
- Retitling: Writing a new title of the original article.
- Storyboarding: Creating content by cobbling together articles from multiple resources and including commentary.
- Parallelizing: Finding a connection between the original article and the curator’s content when they may seem unrelated.
Done right, curation isn’t plagiarism or copyright infringement. Re-printing an entire article without permission is stealing, but using bits and pieces isn’t.
Curating involves searching for high quality articles on topics of interest to your market, quoting parts and writing your own commentary. This sounds overwhelming, but content curation software like the following makes finding, curating and sharing content manageable.
B2B Content Engine: Targeted to business-to-business (B2B) market, this software allows multiple team members or clients to select topics and publish them to blogs, social media, email newsletters and your company’s branded content portal. You can write commentary, create original content using curated snippets, add calls to action to curated content and schedule posts for the week.
ContentGems: This platform monitors more than 200,000 resources to filter results based on your keywords, social signals, media type and custom sources for finding, selecting and curating curate content. You can add commentary and share curated content on social media and your website. ContentGems schedules posts and uses Bitly URL shortening service for analytics. Content of interest can be viewed online or sent as an email digest.
Curata: Technology finds content from a variety of sources and lets you tweak the sources to improve results. It also learns your preferences to better prioritize and categorize. Curata lists trending topics, recommends related content, archives curated content and provides metrics. The service optimizes content for mobile and publishes it to websites, blogs, social media and email newsletters. They have a bookmarklet for one-click curating of articles and videos.
Eqentia: In addition to curation, Eqentia’s enterprise platform offers text mining, real-time aggregation, semantic extraction and rule-based knowledge discovery. The company also has Personal Stream, a curation tool that shares curated content on social networks, blog and with followers. Users can also explore content channels, create a personalized news page, search news and annotate content.
Whether you curate content or create your own, content marketing must be relevant and useful in order to get results. The information you share helps make your market more knowledgeable. Before sharing, ask yourself: Will my clients and prospects walk away learning something new? If the answer is no, revise your content until you get to yes.
Not all content needs to be actionable or something your market can apply to their lives. Content covering trends, for example, tells them what their counterparts or industry is doing. This is new information (more knowledge) and it lets them know what’s happening. They may consider changing behavior on the trend or they may not.
What do you want people to do when they check your LinkedIn profile? Hire you? Connect with you? Of course. Yet most LinkedIn profiles read like “Here’s what I’ve done and why I’m awesome.” It leaves your target audience thinking: Well, yippee for you, but what can you do for me? What’s your story? What makes you different from all the others who do the same thing?
Your answer these questions belong in one of the most important sections of your profile, the Summary. This tells your professional story without all the dull dates, titles, locations and bullet list of accomplishments. That’s already covered in the Experience section. The Summary gives you the opportunity to write a narrative that reveals your personality as you highlight what you do, who you are and what you can do. When your personality shines, it makes you memorable so you stand out.
Here are eight tips to tell your story to compel people to take the action you want.
1. Write in the first person. Celebrities may get away with talking about themselves in the third person, but most of us can’t. Besides, writing in the third person sounds standoffish. Many fall into the trap of talking about themselves and their companies because they identify closely with their company. So stick with the first person – “I want,” “I believe that” – without switching to “we” in your summary. This is the time to make it about you, the person. People can visit your company’s website and other resources to get more information.
2. Apply keywords … carefully. Although keywords bring searchers to your profile, the summary needs to flow naturally. A good way to do this is to draft the summary without a care about keywords. Write what you want to say while applying the other tips. Tweak it until it’s right. Then do a review to check your keywords and fix as needed. First drafts written with keywords in mind come across forced and robotic. While keywords matter, you don’t want to turn your summary into a dictionary of careers.
3. Use text formatting to improve readability. While you can’t use bold or change the font size, you can use ALL CAPS as headers, asterisks or dashes as bullets and lines and symbols as separators. Beware that symbols like ???? can be a turn off for some people.
4. Tell your story. This is where you apply all the good advice you’ve received creating elevator speeches. Describe your business in a few words while covering two or three points. Instead of “user experience designer,” you might say “I design websites so people can use them quickly without thinking.” That’s more memorable and understandable than “user experience designer.”
Think if you only have five seconds to tell your story, what would you say? That’ll be the part you want to cover first. It may buy you another five seconds, so what comes next? This method ensures you cover the important points from most to least. If you’re stuck, try the PAR formula: problem, action and result.
5. Make it the right length. LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters for the Summary. So how long should it be? Some say use up every single character. Some say 200 words. Still others say 100 to 300 words. By the way, it’s possible to hit 2,000 characters with 300 words. Take whatever you need to tell your story and end it with a call to action (CTA).
A CTO and former developer only has one sentence, but it works: “Making great software products millions of people use and love.” It’s clear the CTO is passionate about software. He could say more. Maybe he’s a person of a few words.
6. End with a call to action. What do you want the reader to do? The person may not be ready to contact you, so consider smaller steps that require less commitment. Examples: Sign up for the weekly newsletter for valuable advice on ABC, visit the blog for advice on ABC or ask questions in the LinkedIn Group or Facebook page.
7. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and tired clichés. Here are the 10 most overused buzzwords in the U.S. in 2012 provided by LinkedIn: creative, organizational, effective, motivated, extensive experience, track record, innovative, responsible, analytical and problem solving.
Show instead of tell, and spell out information. Use “10 years of doing XYZ” instead of an empty phrase like “accomplished professional” or “experienced professional.” Drop the overused “team player” and tell a story that shows how you worked with a team to accomplish something. Quantify where possible, be succinct and cut the hollow phrases.
8. Keep revising. Don’t publish the ugly first draft. It’s better to have no summary than a bad one. When you’re happy with the summary after a few revisions, post it. However, you’re not done. You’ll keep tweaking and improving it as you gain more experience and new stories to tell.
What advice do you have for writing a powerful LinkedIn Summary?
The first thing a tech startup needs to do in finding customers is to describe its ideal clients. Nail down the characteristics of this target audience. Many marketers create personas that go as far as identifying the client’s gender, age, lifestyle, challenges and so on.
For example, identifying “IT managers” as an ideal client isn’t enough for a tech startup that sells an app. Do they work for a small or large company? What industry? Does their team do IT support for internal employees or external clients?
After you’ve created a profile of your typical customer, communicate that to the rest of the team. It ensures everyone communicates the same message. Next, do these to quickly start bringing in new customers.
1. Contact your friends and colleagues.
People buy from people they like and trust. Who better than your friends and colleagues? To make it easier to start the conversation, approach them with the idea of “I’ve recently launched a startup that provides ABC to help make it easier to do XYZ. Do you know anyone who could benefit?” This takes off the pressure of selling by having you ask for help. People are pleasers who want to help. Once they know about your startup, they may start spreading the word.
2. Ally with a complementary and established business.
Let’s say your company develops time management apps for business. Partner with a company that sells business finance apps. Many businesses need both. When you partner with another company, you tap into their resources. Perhaps, you can bundle both company’s products that compels people to buy both.
It’s not required that the business be complementary, but its customers should represent your ideal client. What does the other business get out this? Eventually, the startup will bring in other customers, which could mean new business for the veteran business.
3. Give away a free product or service.
This is where it’s critical to know your target audience. You want the freebies in the hands of people who are your ideal customers. You have many options for going about this, such as using posting updates in social media to spread the word. You might also give them to friends and colleagues.
Holding a contest is another option. The key is to create one that attracts the target audience. For example, no contest should include an iPad for the prize. EVERYONE wants one including those who aren’t remotely in the target audience. Contests are fun, stir people’s competitive spirit and get them excited about something.
Another group to target in the giveaway is bloggers. Search for blogs that target your audience and offer a product for review or to use in a contest. Don’t pressure the bloggers to provide a positive review. That won’t reflect well on your startup. If they say something negative about it, respond to it with an attitude of appreciation. After all, they took the time to point out a weakness for you to fix.
4. Offer something for the first X customers to sign up.
People love a deal and when you put a limit on it, they’re more likely to jump in faster to avoid missing out. This could be a discount or a free swag. Make sure the swag is something people will use because it will make them think of your startup each time they see it.
5. Attend networking events.
Meetup is a great resource for your networking efforts. This website simplifies the process of searching for groups based on topic and location. And the cool part is that it lets you see if you know people in the group or have contacts in common with group members.
Of course, you’ll have business cards with you. But here’s a trick to make it work for you. When you connect with someone, write a code word on the back of the business card. Tell them if they contact you with the code word within a week, they’ll get a freebie or discount. Since they’re busy meeting many people, they may not want to seal the deal at the event. This gives them an incentive to contact you.
6. Offer referral incentives.
Tell friends and clients that you’ll pay them $50 or some other rate for each new client they refer by the end of the month (or another arbitrary number that compels them to act sooner). The income your startup gets from the new client will more than pay for the referral fee.
What other ways can a startup get its first customers quickly?