Many advisers are discovering the real benefits of using social media to connect with their clients and generate new prospects and partners.
But for some, the reality hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Here are seven pitfalls to avoid when thinking about using social media or to improve the outcomes from your existing activities.
1. Lack of a clear strategy
The best results when using social media come from having a clear strategy.
Put simply, it’s your roadmap to identify what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there. Your strategy should include: who your target audience is (eg existing clients, prospects, and referral partners); what social media platforms you will use; what your social media objectives are and how these align with your business objectives; content creation and publishing approach; how you will measure results; available resources.
Without objectives you won’t have any way of judging whether the time and resources you’ve invested have been worth it. Examples of some goals for social networking sites like Facebook are to: create 50 new followers/fans within one month; increase the number of likes for your Facebook page by 20% within two months; number of customer comments posted.
2. Not knowing who you’re talking to
This may seem obvious but if you don’t have a good idea of your client profile or target client then you won’t know what social media platform to use or what to say to them. Facebook is the largest social networking site in Australia and is making increasing inroads with business-to-customer activity since the launch of Facebook Pages for business. LinkedIn is a great business-to-business networking site more suited to engagement with referral partners such as accountants. Make sure you match the best social media channel with who you want to connect with.
3. Failing to build a community
This is probably the most overlooked part of developing a social media strategy. Unfortunately, it’s not a case of ‘build it and they will come’. You need to have a clear idea on how you’re going to build your community of fans and followers. Here are a few simple steps to get traction quickly:
4. No content strategy
Yes, content is king and one of the biggest drivers of success in the digital world. You may have a selection of articles you’ve written or sourced to begin with, then after a few months find you’re scrabbling around for new ideas and what to say.
To avoid this pitfall, you need to take the time to develop a process for how you’re going to get good quality content on an ongoing basis. Here are three questions you need to answer:
What do you want to say?
Content can be used to inform, educate, inspire or entertain but you need to have a few guidelines about what topics you want to cover. An editorial policy will ensure you’re always on message.
Where will you get content from?
This is the part that can take up a lot of time. Identifying sources of content before getting into social media can help reduce the risk of failure. Sources include:
You can either create your own content, or curate content from other sources. If you are producing your own content remember to include keywords to help with SEO and indexing by search engines. Where possible, use content that has a long shelf life i.e. evergreen, so you don’t have to worry about updating it.
Content can be reused or recycled. For example, an article from your newsletter can be repackaged as a factsheet, how to guide, checklist, infographic, podcast or video. Or update it with a new headline or statistics and recycle it.
How often will you post content?
Once you’ve worked out where you’ll get content from, you’ll need to put together a publishing calendar. This sets out the frequency of when you’re going to publish content, on which social media platform, what time of day and what the content will be.
How often you’ll post, blog or tweet will rely on the time and resources you have available. Posting daily or weekly can be very time consuming so make sure you’re realistic about how often you can update content. Consider using sharing software such as Hootsuite.com or Buffer.com which allow you to post across multiple platforms at once and schedule posts in advance.
5. Lack of integration
Your social media strategy should be fully integrated into other marketing activities and touch points with clients throughout the year. This holistic approach will ensure you create a customer experience that delivers the best results for your business.
Your website should be at the heart of everything you do when communicating with clients online. Why? Because you “own” and control it, a place where you can provide detailed information about who you are and what you offer. Whilst LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are free (“rented”), you don’t really have full control of your message and the rules on who sees your post and tweets can easily be changed.
Posts and tweets should, where possible, drive traffic back to you website, and ideally to the specific page mentioned in a post. This helps strengthen your web presence and helps with SEO as well as capturing leads and converting interest into action e.g. book an appointment. In addition, your website can help create new followers by increasing awareness of all social media platforms you are using.
6. Results not evaluated
The need for monitoring and measuring social media results is no different to measuring your other marketing and sales activity. All the major social media platforms have inbuilt monitoring systems and are not difficult to use.
Each platform has different metrics that can be measured but the three main ones are: reach (how many people saw your post); engagement (how people interacted with your content via likes, shares, comments etc); and increased traffic to your website from social media activity.
Social media can take time to deliver results and is dependent on a number of factors such as the quality and frequency of your content and spread of social media platforms. The main thing is to review results, identify any learnings and use these to adjust your objectives, content and/or publishing strategy to improve results.
7. No dedicated resources
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to manage a social media programme. Before you start, make sure you can commit time to it. If necessary, block out time in your calendar, weekly or monthly, to do the updates and identify or create new content. You may also have to factor in time to get content approved by your dealer group compliance team.
If you don’t have adequate resources in place you run the risk of not updating your social media sites and content will soon become out of date.
The road to success
Whilst there are a number of pitfalls to consider, here are three tips to help improve your chances of success.
You’ve decided to run a client seminar and settled on a great topic that you think will attract wide interest. You may even have decided to get a guest speaker as an additional drawcard. You’re off to a good start but sometimes you’re worst fears come true when clients fail to respond or show up on the day.
Here are a few tips to reduce the risk of ‘no shows’, get the maximum number of clients to attend and deliver the best return on the time and money spent.
A phased approach
There are three distinct phases to holding a client seminar that advisers need to consider and each has a different focus:
At each stage there are a few things you can do to improve the overall client experience and increase the success of the event.
Be clear on what you want to achieve. If your objective is to generate new prospects or connect with existing, high value clients that’s great. But it’s not enough. You need to quantify what you want to achieve. You should also be realistic about what to aim for. If you only have 100 people to invite is it likely you will get 50% to attend? Is your invitation and guest speaker line up compelling enough to deliver this kind of outcome?
Your objective should look something like this:
By quantifying your objective you will then be able to measure how successful the event was. You also need to decide what is the minimum number of clients you need to attend to make the event viable.
Allocate a budget to cover speakers, venue, promotional item, producing information packs, catering etc.
Set out a timeline of what needs to be done and by whom. Send invitations to clients 5-6 weeks prior to the event to ensure plenty of notice is given, and to allow for follow ups and reminders.
The most cost efficient way to send invitations is email so ensure you can identify who you can email an invitation to and those clients that will need a hard copy invitation. For clients that you mail an invitation to, include a request form for them to update their contact details including their current email address.
Find a place that is central to where the majority of your clients live. Make sure there is plenty of parking and transport to it and it’s easy to find. If possible include a link to Google Maps in your confirmation email.
A compelling invitation, well written and visually appealing works best. If you’re sending the invitation by email make sure it’s in the body of the email, not an attachment that clients have to click to open. By including the invitation in the email you can include an active email link for clients to click on to respond back to you. Give people a Yes/No option and set the subject line in the hyperlink so your staff know immediately when a response comes in if a client is coming or not. If you don’t give them a No option, people who can’t attend may not respond at all and you may have to follow them up anyway to find this out. Ensure you use the word ‘Invitation’ in the subject line and in the heading of the invitation in the email. If you’re concerned about low numbers, tell clients that their family and friends are welcome to attend.
Set the RSVP date for at least 2-3 weeks before the seminar date. This gives you time to ensure you have good visibility of how many clients have accepted, those who have not responded that you need to send a reminder to, and those who have declined.
Confirmation of attendance
Once you receive an RSVP from a client that they will be attending, send them an email confirming their attendance and remind them to put the event date and time in their dairy.
Follow Up non-respondents
Send a follow up reminder to clients who have not responded 3-4 days before the RSVP date in case they have lost the invitation or forgotten.
Reduce the chance of clients not showing up on the day by sending an SMS reminder 1 to 2 days prior to the event. This is a low cost option that gets noticed by clients and is a fantastic way to reduce the number of ‘no shows’. Include your phone number in the text so clients can let you know if they can’t attend on the day.
These should be as engaging as possible with the information accessible to your audience, meaning the content is tailored to allow for the level of experience and knowledge of you audience. The best presentations are those where slides are not text heavy but use images and a few key words to talk to. Remember, PowerPoint was developed as an ‘aid memoir’; it is not a substitute for a word document.
Always include a copy of the presentations in your information pack printed out as Notes so people can write their comments and thoughts to refer back to. It’s a good idea to also include some factsheets about the topic you covered, your adviser profile, business contact details and other relevant information for clients to take home with them
Feedback/Follow Up Form
Always provide clients with a feed back form, either in their information packs or on the seats. The purpose of the forms is to gauge how much clients valued/enjoyed the seminar, quality of the speakers and venue and their suggestions for topics in future seminars. You can also use this form to invite clients to request a follow up appointment or call back or even recommend the name of a friend or relative you can contact who may be interested in the information.
Allowing time for questions at the end is a good way to get clients involved and to gauge their level of engagement with the topic. Sometimes it works if people can ask questions when they think of them rather than waiting until the end. If you do hold questions to the end, it can be a good idea to have someone prepared to ask a question to encourage others to do so.
This is often the most neglected stage of a seminar but in fact can be one of the most important. Here is what you should be doing:
Follow up Actions
The day after the seminar follow up any action items: set up appointments, phone follow ups that clients have asked for directly or via the feedback forms.
Send a Thank You or Follow Up Email
Within three days of the seminar send a thank you email/note to clients who attended. To clients who said they were going to attend but didn’t and clients who couldn’t attend, send a follow up email and attach a copy of the presentations and other information such as factsheets, invite them to contact you if they want any further information, or to make an appointment.
Within two or three weeks of the seminar being held, take the time to review the results. Talk to staff who attended and get their feedback on what worked and what could be improved, analyse the feedback forms from attendees, then check the outcomes against your original objective – did you achieve the results you were looking for? Review the costs to put the seminar on, work out what the cost per attendee is and what the cost per appointment is. It’s good practice to capture all the results and learnings in a document so that you can refer to it when you decide to run another seminar.
By following these tips you will ensure that clients and prospects have a great experience and you get the results you were looking for.
Click on the link below for a copy of our client seminar checklist.