“First of all, I don’t claim to be a social media expert, influencer or strategist. Our business creates social media content but it’s not a core part of our service. We don’t rely on getting leads for our clients or our own business through social media.
Social media has had an impact on my business though so I want to explain how, why and what I do, then how this can be used for advisers.”
Listen to the ‘My Social Media Journey’ podcast episode below.
Why do I use social media?
The selfish reasons are for positioning as a thought leader. When I launched the business I wanted to be known as the go-to-guy for lead generation in financial services.
For those that know me, I’m a huge Batman fan, and believe it or not the film Batman Begins has influenced alot of what I do in business.
There’s a scene in Batman Begins where Alfred asks Bruce Wayne “Why Bats Mr Wayne?”
Bruce replies “Bats frighten me, it’s time my enemies shared my dread”
He wants his enemies to be afraid of him.
Why is this relevant?
I remember very early in my career when I didn’t focus on working with financial advice firms I would work with anyone and everyone.
I didn’t get the contract to work on a dentist’s website, purely because they went with a company that specifically only did dentists’ websites. They were totally rubbish by the way!
I remember thinking I hope I don’t come up against them again, or any other specialist. I was afraid of being pitched against a specialist.
When I watched Batman Begins it was like, I should totally do this and make sure everyone knows about it.
I started a Facebook group, the Advisers Assemble podcast and created a podcast to position myself as the go-to-guy so other marketing firms would be afraid of being pitched against me.
The short answer is, I use social media as a positioning device, for branding and awareness not to get direct business from.
Do we get business from it, yes, sometimes, as much as Google? No, but does it help when someone Google’s us then checks my LinkedIn? Yes!
The key thing I remember is that the vast majority of people who see my content are not even contemplating, let alone being ready to speak to me about how I can help their business.
I don’t try and help everyone with everything
“Everyone is not your customer” Seth Godin
“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one” Meredith Hill
“The riches are in the niches” Almost every American marketer (it rhymes for them).
My favourite scene in the whole of Batman Begins is “If you devote yourself to an ideal, you’ll become something else entirely. Legend, Mr Wayne”
I interpret your “Ideal” as being your company’s mission or goal. The more specific the goal the more likely you are to reach it.
I’ve tweaked my ‘Ideal’ over time but…
I want everyone searching for financial advice to find an adviser, not a lead gen company.
I hate the idea of people having their data sold to the highest bidder after being tricked into handing over their details.
If I devote myself to my ideal then I need to create content to stop advisers who need leads from buying them. This gives me a reason to create content other than to sell my services.
I’m not trying to talk to everyone or anyone, I’m trying to help a specific type of person help themselves.
I don’t post much as the company
People buy from people, I have yet to see a super successful social media account in financial services that does not feature a person or people.
I’ve seen way more people follow Richard Branson than they do Virgin, the same goes for Elon Musk and any of his brands.
More people follow Harry Kane than Tottenham and the England football team account on Instagram put together.
These are obviously extremes but that seems to be the trend that people follow and like people’s content.
Choosing the social media platform
I focus most of my activity on social media in three places.
I have a Facebook group for the Advisers Assemble podcast, a personal Instagram account and my personal LinkedIn account.
My personal Instagram account is more for me to just enjoy being on social media and although I might put the odd work thing on there it’s more for me.
When it comes to work; if LinkedIn groups were any good I probably would have everything on LinkedIn.
I cleared out connections so I only follow relevant people in the industry not peers.
LinkedIn is my main business platform and I used it to connect with anybody and everybody. I thought more was better.
Now I think what’s the point of someone in marketing seeing my posts?
I would rather less people in total saw my content but more relevant people saw it.
I disconnected with anyone who wasn’t a potential client or could benefit from hearing my advice.
Focus on your potential client, not your competitors
If you disconnect or unfollow anyone that can be deemed as a competitor then you won’t be influenced by their content. Just copying what others do without knowing why they do it is just lazy and I doubt you’ll get anything from it.
If you only follow the people you are trying to help then you’ll get to know them more. You’ll see their problems and struggles and understand what they need and how they want to learn.
I follow, I like, I comment way more than I post
I spend more time engaging with other people’s content than I do posting. If you support others they’ll support you.
I try to help and support more people to get better reach by not just liking and commenting but also using the ‘celebrate’ or ‘support’ like features. LinkedIn seems to give a better reach to content that isn’t just getting the ‘normal’ likes.
I don’t think you can expect people to like and comment on your content if you don’t do it yourself.
No comment left behind
I always, always acknowledge comments, even if just by liking it. I think it’s rude not to acknowledge or reply to comments.
I also think if you don’t acknowledge them some people will stop commenting on your content. This will reduce the reach, as the more comments you get the more your content is seen.
Types of content I post
My most popular content is non-work related, even on LinkedIn, but is awareness for awareness’ sake worthwhile?
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I don’t think I really want to be known as a David Brent type character (even though I probably am) having a laugh on social media all the time.
My most popular post in terms of reach was letting people know I went to watch Spider-Man at the cinema in my Batman socks.
It doesn’t add any value to anyone, but it shows that people are interested in what you do outside of work.
Questions anyone can have an opinion on
I remember when I was really starting out trying to build a following that it felt like I was talking to a brick wall.
I was creating content that I know people found helpful as I would often get DM’s saying so, but I rarely got comments on the posts.
So I had a look at some peers that were a few steps ahead of me and found that their most engaged content started with a question.
Questions are great for inviting comments, it gives someone a reason to comment and something for them to say.
The more comments, the more reach your post will get.
If you make your question something that anyone can have an opinion on then people won’t be afraid to give their thoughts. Remember a lot of people fear trolls and armchair critics on social media. People also don’t want to looks stupid either.
Here are a couple of examples that I’ve used where there isn’t a right or wrong answer, everybody has the right to their own opinion on these.
Sometimes I’ll tie these questions into a podcast topic or other content I’m creating so that I can add people’s insights into my content too.
Promoting a podcast episode or other content
I’ve definitely found that self-promotion is the least effective type of post in terms of reach and engagement (on the post). This doesn’t mean it’s not effective at all.
Pretty much every LinkedIn expert agrees that if you put a link in your post, sending people away from LinkedIn then you’ll get less reach. LinkedIn want to keep people on their platform, they have nothing to gain by you sending them away.
So whether I put a link and LinkedIn restrict the view or whether I use a call to action like “Search: ‘Advisers Assemble’ on your favourite podcast player” then they will either ignore the post or leave LinkedIn and go to their podcast player. If my post is making people leave LinkedIn then they won’t like that either and also restrict the post.
It’s one of the reasons I don’t really self promote on social media that often.
Social Media Ads
I have ran ads on social media, more so on LinkedIn than Facebook. I have a B2B business so targeting the owners of the types of firms I want to work with using LinkedIn Ads is pretty straightforward.
Facebook ads have been good for getting more podcast listeners and for re-marketing (showing ads to people who have been on my website).
I try new things
“Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up again” Batman Begins.
I’m not afraid to try something new and I have no expectations that it will be successful. People often say that you learn more from failure than success. My business mentor Mike Greene wrote the book “Failure Breeds Success” and often finishes a talk by saying “I wish you enough failure that you will eventually succeed”.
Who cares if you post something and get no views or comments, only you. Just learn from it, don’t keep doing it though if it brings the same results, try something else.
Look at what makes others successful but don’t just copy them, work out why they do what they do, not just the what.
What I would do if I was an adviser
I would utilise the connections I have on my personal Facebook account just to remind them of what I do and how I help people once a month.
I would still have a podcast, I find it a great way to demonstrate my expertise whilst helping others too. I might do more with YouTube as there are more advisers than there are marketers in financial services.
I would adjust the platform I am on depending on who my target audience was, if I only want to work with Limited Company Directors then LinkedIn would still be key.
I would still focus on Google to get leads but use social media for positioning, building connections, branding and awareness.
I would still comment on every post, cleanse who I follow and use the same post types (non-work, questions and podcast promo) just the content would be different.
I would still try new things!