Social Networking for Financial Services:Be Found-Look Good

by Bill Good Marketing on May 15, 2011

Before you even read this article, please watch this 2 min video on LinkedIn®. When you are done, you will understand why it is vital you have a LinkedIn profile AND get as many connections as possible. But for now, join. If you are already a member, frequently update your Profile and frequently “Share an Update.” Add new connections.  Naturally, you will need to follow compliance procedures of your firm. From a review of FINRA regulations, you should be able to use it at least in some form. So get started or make it better.

In various martial arts disciplines, different colored belts are awarded to recognize levels of accomplishment.

At the lowest level, one is awarded a white belt. At the highest level, one receives the fabled black belt.

I suppose belts could be awarded for “Effective Social Networking,” better called “Effective Web Presence” since your “presence” is composed of social networking sites, your website and sites that quote or acknowledge you.

Whatever we call it, you would be awarded a white belt when a client or prospect can find you and you look good.

In fact, I would say the first commandment of web presence is: “Be found. Look good.”

At the black belt level, prospective clients would find you, contact you, and give you assets to manage. While there are not many advisors at this level, make no mistake. They’re out there. They’re opening accounts. And they’re keeping pretty quiet about it.

Be Found. Look Good

When you have complied with the first commandment, you should substantially own Google’s first page of search results.  Why page one? Because at least 75% of the click-throughs happen on page one.  If you show up on page four, you are lost and gone forever.

To see what I mean, do a Google search for “Charles Dankworth.”

Now,”Dankworth” is certainly not all that common.  You say, “My name is John Smith. How can I ever be dominant on Google’s page one?”

Let’s take a fairly common name, say, Ray Dunlap.

If you Google his name, he is on Google’s page 1. But there’s another Ray Dunlap. And our Ray does not dominate.

But if you Google “Ray Dunlap financial advisor” you will see he controls nine out of ten spots on the all-important page 1.

He did it very simply.

He has a good-looking website. He has a LinkedIn profile. He has a Facebook page. And he has received some recognition from “high authority” websites.

What’s it worth to be named a “5 Star Wealth Manager?”

When an article naming you appears on Google page 1, it’s worth a lot.

Reputation Management

According to one web definition, reputation management refers to “the steps taken to decrease the degree of damage caused to the online reputation of a company, or the steps taken to improve the online reputation of a company.”

If there is anything negative on you out there—or a negative story about someone with your name, reputation management is even more vital.

Consider this: your good client, Velda Oldebucks, mentions you favorably to a member of her condo committee, Mable Wampum.

Velda even provides a phone number because you, thoughtfully, gave her a laminated business card which she carries with her everywhere.

With telephone number in hand, Mable goes home and promptly Googles you. All she finds is your static website, a reference to your political contributions, and a complaint that was filed and dismissed three years ago. She puts the scrap of paper with your business card on her desk and thinks, “I don’t know …”

Here is what should have happened. Mable Googles you and finds your website. She finds a complete profile on LinkedIn. Your Facebook® page contains pictures of your family, information about your hobbies, and especially your community activities. You have been using Twitter® to recommend products and services in your community that you personally use and endorse. She also finds links to several articles you have published in local or even national papers. As for the complaint, it’s over on page 4 of the Google search pages. Mable reads a few of the items, picks up the phone and calls. This would be correct reputation management.

Your Online Brag Wall

Your website, LinkedIn Profile, and Facebook page should be considered your online brag wall.

Naturally, you have a brag wall in your office. It is strategically placed so that you can remind clients and introduce prospects to who you are without launching a long and often boring description

Your online brag wall does the same thing. People do check you out. We know this.

Your online brag wall,–your web presence—enablers to you create and sustain the primary brand each advisor must have.

1. Expert financial advisor. You naturally have a multi-page profile detailing your experience. It is posted on LinkedIn and your website. You can enhance your “expert” perception on Facebook. You just have to stay away from “Expert Financial Advisor.” Few firms will allow you to do this. But you can build the “expert” identity by recommending thoughtful articles.  Check out Charles Dankworth’s Facebook page.  There you will see a very well developed Facebook strategy.

2. Caring, trustworthy, well-mannered individual. Certainly one use of your Facebook is would be to post discussions of your community involvement, charitable activities, and other good works. Naturally you also include family activities. As of this writing, most firms will not allow you to use Facebook for business. But you are a citizen. And the only place you give up First Amendment writes is in your capacity as a financial advisor.

You can also demonstrate your “caring” side by using LinkedIn as a resource hub.

Let’s say that a client needs a service to take down a tree. You could put out a request to your network, “I have a client who needs a tree taken down. Do you have a service you have been extremely happy with?” You will get some answers. You are perceived as helping your clients. You then contact each of the tree services recommended and link to them.

3. Good citizen. Your profile also includes links to photos of you participating in various community activities, as well as announcements from the local chamber or rotary club about how you chaired this or that committee.

Brown Belt: Beginning Client Acquisition

I cannot prove to you that what I’m about to say is true, but I think it is.

There is a critical mass associated with a LinkedIn network. Once your network reaches a certain size, you can get introduced to just about anyone in your community.

I don’t know what the critical mass is yet. But I will.

By the way, if you have been one of those who threw your small clients off your truck, an appropriate act for you to perform as you read this article would be: Kick yourself in the head a few times for not following Dr. Good’s advice. Your network will be a lot smaller than it should be, and will take longer to build to critical mass.

Here’s my network as of May 2011. Do you think there is any financial advisor in the country I can’t reach?

LinkedIn Network Size

Size of my LinkedIn Network as of May 2011

If you are connected just to a couple of hundred people, you might be able to reach 20,000 or so in your community.

Let’s say you read in the paper that Joe Blow, owner of Blow’s Junk and Stuff, sold his junkyard to Costco® who will be putting a new store there. If you look up Joe on LinkedIn, you may find several of your clients who know him. Now it’s just a quick call.

You: Bob, do you know Joe Blow?

Bob: Sure, we play golf together every week or so.

You: How can I meet him?

Bob: You play golf, right?

You: Sure do.

Bob: How about joining us Friday afternoon?

Minimum Requirements for LinkedIn

You must have a  photo. It should be against a medium background. Your LinkedIn photo should not show your spouse or your kids.  This is a business site.

You must have a  robust profile on LinkedIn.

Not sure what that means?

On LinkedIn, (subscription required) and Facebook,  search for:

Charles Dankworth

Thomas V Christopher

Robust profiles. Got it?

Still haven’t set up or improved your LinkedIn or Facebook profiles yet? Get started so you can Be Found. Look Good.


{ 2 comments }

mary b kusske June 3, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thanks Bill,

Good information that I will be adding to my agenda for my KFM work retreat next week.

Bill Good Marketing June 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Mary–you’re welcome. Let me know how your retreat goes.

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