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‘Engage clients through social media’

Advisers must be willing to put the time and effort into engaging with prospective clients if they wish to attract new business through social media, according to Steve Billingham.

An increasing number of advisers are using the medium to build brand awareness but there are many who view social media as a distraction, the director of West Sussex-based Steve Billingham Consulting said.

“Social media can most definitely form an element of your communications mix, but it should not be standalone. It will not result in a flood of immediate enquiries and it cannot replace more traditional marketing activity but it can supplement it.

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He added: “Do not turn to social media if you are hoping to have potential new clients forming a queue at your front door – that’s not going to happen.”

Social media is an opportunity for advisers to interact and develop a rapport with prospective clients and educate them about the services they provide, Mr Billingham said, adding that planners should endeavour to reply to comments on posts they make.

In this respect, advisers should consider attributing responsibility for the management of social media interaction, and how to monitor it, he said.

Pictures and video posts have become more and more important when it comes to audience engagement in a cluttered social media environment, according to Mr Billingham, who advises planners to add variety to their posts by including imagery and inspirational quotes.

He added that advisers should consider a host of questions before posting content on social media, including what it might convey about their brand, and whether it ties in with their content.

Smaller businesses such as advisory firms should keep their management of social media simple and plan what they want to say and where and when to broadcast the information –with an initial aim for a couple of posts a week, Mr Billingham said.

“Put someone in your organisation on point to be able to check in a few times a day to monitor and respond to comments or questions your audience may leave. Monitor what works and doesn’t work for your audience. Don’t be afraid to re-use content – just don’t use it every week and don’t over use it.”

He added: “One thing you should do, however, is use your social media to build email lists – those that you can start to engage with on a more personal level; lists that you can communicate with on a regular basis.

“Where you can monitor who is opening and reading your emails, when and what interests them. This provides you with a wealth of insight to make your communications increasingly sophisticated and targeted.”

Adviser view

Tom Wilcox-Jones, IFA at Blackstone Moregate, based in London, said: “We tend to use LinkedIn, although we have discussed the possibility of creating Twitter and Facebook accounts. I think social media can help to promote brand awareness. However, if you are not going to be particularly active and fail to post consistently it can have negative connotations for a business.”