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Four: Marketing and Business Development

How Do We Decide Which Social Media Platforms to Use?

You have to use the networks as a listening device.

– Blane Warrene, co-founder, Arkovi

With new social media platforms popping up every year, it's hard to know where to start when building a social media strategy. There are the obvious ones, but there are a host of others. Who would have thought Pinterest or Vine would now be something advisors or asset managers might use?

In other chapters in this book, we guide you in ways to manage specific social media networks. Here, we want to talk about how you might go about choosing particular platforms, how to use platforms simultaneously, and how your goals and audience fit in. As always, be sure to read on; while you may think you know what to do by the headlines, some valuable nuggets of help are within our discussion.

THREE QUESTIONS TO ASK . . . AND IT ALL STARTS WITH COMPLIANCE

For financial professionals, choosing the right platform(s) might first be dictated by your compliance policy. Oftentimes, as we address later, firms will develop a specific social media policy to guide their activities.

But in choosing the best platform, one needs to answer these three questions (see Figure 18.1):

Social Networking Platforms at a Glance

FIGURE 18.1 Social Networking Platforms at a Glance

1. What do we want to accomplish?

2. Where are our clients, prospects, or influencers? What social networks do they frequent?

3. Can I remain compliant using those platforms?

A CASE: CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLATFORMS

Fans of the National Investment Company Service Association (NICSA) can follow the organization all over social media, via LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and even on Pinterest, where it posts pictures of past conferences.

It wasn't always so. NICSA, which promotes best practices within the investment industry, sensed a need for new approaches a few years ago, says President Theresa Hamacher.

At the time, the group was encountering resistance to e-mail outreach. Social media offered a new way to draw in people. Hamacher says a younger NICSA staff member also encouraged more blogging on the group's site as shorter-form content became more popular online.

Hamacher, a former CIO at Pioneer Investments who became NICSA's president in 2008, says she was convinced of the power of social media about two years ago, when 1,000 people started following NICSA's new LinkedIn group.

Know Your Audience – Most social media blogs in the financial space are business-to-consumer enterprises aimed at large-scale education. That approach doesn't work so well with a B2B audience with more sophisticated needs, Hamacher says. “What we've learned is you really have to think about what it is you're trying to achieve with your social media, and set some goals for yourself,” she says.

Know What You Represent – Having many followers on Twitter is not a compelling need for NICSA, and the group doesn't believe that following all of its followers is consistent with its professional image. Instead, it focuses on professionals who are corporate members of the organization. “It's thinking about the individuals rather than the numbers, which I think is a message that resonates with financial advisors,” Hamacher says.

Plan for Patience – Working on a successful Twitter strategy alone took about 18 months. “If you expect to have great success with this overnight, you're not going to,” Hamacher says. “But we've found as our reputation develops, more and more of our members are following us back.”

Dealing with multiple platforms, however, is a challenge. “We have a different login for every social media channel,” Hamacher says. “Just managing that can be a nightmare for small business. There haven't been a lot of great solutions.” See Figure 18.2.

Part of the reason Hamacher became involved with Finect, a social media site for financial advisors, is its ability to share content compliantly on

NICSA Posts Event Presentations on Pinterest

FIGURE 18.2 NICSA Posts Event Presentations on Pinterest

multiple platforms easily. Says Hamacher, “I like that it's a very integrated presence.”

 
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