ORLANDO – Advisors should focus on using social media to brand themselves and their firms but not depend on social media to engage in hard sales, according to Amy McIlwain.
That’s a central tenet of what she calls the “Four E’s” of social media — educate, empower, engage and entertain.
Using social media for all four activities will help prospects and clients learn more about the advisor, she said. This awareness or branding frequently paves the way for face-to-face meetings.
McIlwain is the vice president for social and digital strategy at Moore Communications Group, Denver, Colo. She made these remarks in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet in advance of a workshop she will lead here today on the topic of innovation. The workshop is part of the kick-off of this year’s annual meeting of National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA). McIlwain also will speak at two workshops on Friday.
Put education at the center
Advisors sometimes avoid using social media because they are not sure what to say or how to use it, the social media expert allowed.
Her suggestion is to put educational content at the center. Use social media to inform viewers and listeners about insurance and financial topics of broad interest, she said. “This is what aids and empowers people, provides value and becomes a conduit” for future contact, she said.
These messages should be regular communications, not infrequent, she said. “Structure the messages to drive readers to an article or video on your website, where they can learn more.” Readers who are interested in more information will go the website to get the additional content, she added, and that increases the opportunity for interaction to occur.
Be sure to include a call to action, so that a visitor doesn’t just review content and move on without any invitation to learn more or call, McIlwain advised.
Show who you are
Social media doesn’t need to be — and shouldn’t be — exclusively about education, McIlwain pointed out. She suggested using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media along with emails and websites to “let people know who you are as a person.”
Personal information helps people to relate to you, “so that you won’t be seen as someone who is all business all the time,” she explained. “This helps you to stay top of mind, get referrals, and attract calls for interviews in the media.” Those interviews, once published, are like “free public relations” for the advisor and the firm.
Examples of personal content include photos of the advisor as well as the firm’s staff. Vacation pictures are good too. “Also mention what articles you like, what hobbies you have, and areas of interest. This makes you human, relatable,” she said.
For those who need help getting started with social media, McIlwain offered these tips:
- Take what content you already have developed and use that as a basis for brief posts or tweets. This content could come from a recent seminar presentation, a blog, a white paper, emails or answers already given to frequently asked questions.
- Consider hiring someone else to create the content and do the posting, especially if you are limited on time or lack the skill to do it. “Find someone who already is good at this,” she said.
- Try making brief audios or videos, running no more than 90 seconds to 2 minutes. “Just sit at your PC and record on the microphone some answers to questions you’ve received.” Then use those clips for posting. Or transcribe the words and use the content as a basis for written material.
- Be sure to have a marketing strategy, and be sure it includes social media. This strategy should focus on creating value for clients and consumers in a way that keeps the advisor top of mind. “You want people to think of you when a money-in-motion event occurs or when they want to make a referral,” she said.
All of this needs to follow the best practices required by regulators and compliance officers, McIlwain said.
As an example, she said that for advisors registered with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or the Securities and Exchange Commission, a firm’s compliance staff needs to do a pre-review of “static content” such as brochures and website articles, and a post-review of “interactive content.”
In general, McIlwain said, using social media to educate, empower, engage and entertain, instead of using it to hard sell, will help advisors build their brand.
InsuranceNewsNet Editor-at-Large Linda Koco, MBA, specializes in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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