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Express Your Social Self

Part Five of Abbie Tanner’s Marketing Innovation Engine™ Programme: Using  Social Media to Multiply your Marketing Efforts

 

Last month I showed you how to create an effective online presence. In this article I will delve deeper into the components of a great online marketing strategy; including social media and the effective use of this medium.

You may have heard about a new marketing approach called ‘content marketing’. Content marketing is the strategy of consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of educating, engaging and inciting action. It is the foundation of all successful online strategies and the focus of this article.

Why Social Media?

Traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less effective. Many of us pre-record television programs to skip the adverts, we ignore magazine advertising and have become so skilled at surfing the web that we take in the information we want without any regard for banners or buttons (rendering them irrelevant).

The essence of content marketing is the belief that if you deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to clients and prospects, they will ultimately reward you with their business and loyalty. Rather than pitching your services, you should aim to deliver information that makes your target client more informed.

The best way to do this is through social media. It’s easy, fast and accessible from anywhere in the world.http://www.abusinessinnovation.com/blog/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif Whether you’re a guru, just starting to dabble in social media or you want to know what all the fuss is about, read on for specific tips for creating a content and social media strategy to multiply your marketing efforts.

Set Your Strategy

Start by defining what you want to achieve: the target audience(s) you intend to engage with, the best mediums through which to reach them and the messages that will resonate.

Are you simply looking to build brand awareness? Or do you want to create new relationships and opportunities? These objectives will require a very different approach and more than likely, the use of different social media channels.

A great place to start is by considering your existing or ‘ideal’ clients. If you don’t think they are ‘on’ social media, you might seek to engage with professional connections or journalists. Whichever audience you intend to target, consider the following questions:

1.     What does your target audience want?
Do they use social media? Would they be likely to engage with you this way? What are their reasons for using social media?

2.     What social media channels are your target audience using?
It’s important to be on the right social media platforms. Ones that your target audience are currently using and would want to connect with you on.

3.     What messages are likely to resonate with them?

Are they engaging with social media in a business sense, seeking information or connections, or are they simply having fun, where more light hearted messages might apply? If you specialise in working with small business owners, consider content they are likely to value (and share). For example, rather than communicating all financial services related content, consider other sources such as ‘marketing tips’ or ‘ideas for attracting and retaining quality employees’.

4.     How will you be recognised?
What image would make you easily identifiable to your target audience? Best practice is to use your name and company name (e.g. @firstname_companyname) to build your personal and corporate brand. I also recommend you use a professional photo of yourself, not your logo. People prefer to deal with a real person rather than a company (unless of course you are a well-known broadcaster or consumer brand like @thetimes, @CNN or @Starbucks).

Define Your Content Sources

Once you have set your strategy – you know who you will be talking to, their specific needs and how you will engage with them – you need to identify sources for your messaging. These are the resources you will use to create or curate content.

Start with a list of the type of content that will resonate with your target audience, to educate on specific issues or areas they are interested in. Make sure that these are aligned to, and reinforce, your value proposition.

For example, consider a financial planning business that works with high-earners in the City of London. These individuals tend to be time poor, possibly concerned about paying too much tax, subject to complex remuneration structures (share options or lumpy pay via bonuses) and enjoy the finer things in life such as good food and wine.

This firm could look to create their own content – sourcing information and writing a blog – then publish this via social media. Alternatively, a faster and more effective approach could be to create content in their area of specialism (wealth management, tax mitigation, financial planning and investing) and follow or connect with other sources of relevant information (restaurant review blogs, wine merchants, luxury travel journalists) and forward this on.  

This strategy enables them to share relevant content with their target audience, without the heavy lifting (and time) associated with crafting all of their own content. The results are the same – they are sharing information that their network appreciates, raising their profile and keeping them top of mind.

Not sure what your target audience are interested in? Ask them. Then deliver what they want. You can see what is working, and what isn’t, by tracking what your network are reading and sharing. Two great tools for this are sproutsocial.com and bitly.com.

Select Your Channels

One of the biggest mistakes financial advisers make is they think that they need to be on every single social network. In the world of social media, less can definitely be more. A targeted approach with fewer channels will deliver better results than trying to be everything to everyone, which can lead to overwhelm.

Select only the most appropriate channels for reaching your target audience, then commit to using these well. You can always build on this as you gain momentum behind your strategy. 

›        Blogging

When you adopt a content marketing strategy, you need a blog to act as a repository for your content. Without a blog to drive people to, you are missing the opportunity to engage on a deeper level. To show your personality, demonstrate your expertise and willingness to share it.

Over 384 million people view more than 13.3 billion pages each month, but a lot of advisers steer away from blogging because they feel that it will take too much time and commitment to keep up to date. As mentioned above, if you use guest posts or repurpose third party content, you can end up with an effective blogging strategy for as little as 30 minutes per week.

›        LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known as the ‘business Facebook’. It is used by more than 22 million professionals, who provide over 10 million endorsements daily. Of all of the social media networks, this is one you cannot afford to ignore.

Google often ranks LinkedIn higher than your company website, so if someone Googles you or your company name, your LinkedIn page is likely to come up first. You need to ensure you have a professional profile.

Furthermore, LinkedIn has over 2.7 million business pages, which act as branded mini-company websites, displaying pertinent information individual firms and their services. Visit www.linkedin.com/company .

›        Twitter

In the UK Twitter has around 34 million users, of whom 45% are aged between 35 and 54 years. It is a micro-blogging platform that allows you 140 characters and can be likened to a text message that is shared with anyone who follows you.

Twitter should be used to have conversations and engage with your contacts, sharing information and insight, such as comments on latest news or articles and links to your blog. Keep it professional, but show your personality. Don’t simply use it to broadcast!

›        Video (YouTube or Vimeo)

Video is a great way to build trust, empathy and educate your target audience. Approximately 340,000 years’ worth of online video is watched every day, and it is estimated that 90% of web traffic will be video by 2014.

YouTube is currently the second largest search engine in the world, which indicates that people are searching YouTube to find information rather than reading through wades of website text.

Not sure what to post? You can start with client testimonials captured on your iPhone or iPad and edited with free movie editing software like Microsoft Movie Maker.

Final Tips to Remember

·       Be relevant.
Post things that your network will find interesting and relevant. Don’t ‘broadcast’ or make it all about business – show your personality.

·       Be patient.
It takes time to raise awareness and get noticed. Although, once you get into the swing of things it becomes easier, you can become addicted before you know it.

·       Engage, don’t sell.

Use the 10:1 ratio. For every ten contributions to your community, post just one ‘sales’ message.

·       Measure, refine, repeat.

Measure everything you do. Repeat what works and stop doing what doesn’t.

As a financial adviser you are an expert at what you do. Your content marketing strategy should publicise this fact; educating clients and prospects and enabling you to engage in a way that simply would not be possible – or scalable – in the offline world. 

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