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INFLUENCERS: A NEW MINDSET

Creating your lists of influences and joining related groups is just the beginning. The biggest change from old-school PR to the more modern age is a shift in your mindset – instead of constantly pitching story ideas and releases to local editors, you build connections with influences. You do this by being truly engaged in what they are posting on their sites:

Repost their content. If you Tweet about someone's content and mention them, for example, they can retweet you. This expands your post to their (larger) group of followers.

Leave comments. You can leave comments on their posts or send nonspam messages directly to them via their social sites. Start conversations and develop a rapport.

Share their events with your own followers.

Set up a Google Alert for key influencers. This will help you stay on top of what's happening with them.

Finally, if you do ever use a quote or example from an influencer in your content, make sure you not only give them credit, but tag them and tweet at them when you share it. This will encourage sharing on their part as well, further boosting your reach.

IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT TEXT

Just as public relations has evolved, so too has the way we share news. Make your news stand out by crafting content beyond words. Consider posting your newsworthy content accompanied by graphics, video, images, a podcast, or a pre-recorded webinar.

Remember, consistency is key. Journalists and influencers get tons of pitches every single day; if your pitch is not relevant in that moment, it doesn't mean they are not interested. Developing a rapport can keep you top-of-mind for when that magical media moment can happen.

PROMOTING YOUR EVENTS VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Putting on a local event – a panel discussion on economic trends, or something social such as a wine and cheese party – is a classic strategy for advisors and managers to broaden their reach among clients and potential investors. In fact, Fisher Investments conducts regular networking events so that clients can network among each other in local areas.

Yet the work can be daunting: setting a topic, a date and location, a budget, lining up potential speakers, and of course, promoting it far and wide. The proper use of social media can really make a difference. Here's how to do it.

Prior to the Event

■ Define your marketing budget for the event.

■ Consider a partner to join you – a local publication, firm, or nonprofit – to help spread the word.

■ Create a video promoting the event that you can post on the landing page of your website and forward via e-mail and social networks.

■ Identify a list of current clients who live locally and should be at the top of the invitation list. Reach out to them on social media. A client who is enthusiastic about what you're planning is more likely to want to share the news with his own followers than would a stranger.

■ Define a hashtag and take care to employ it over multiple social media platforms:

■ When crafting an ideal hashtag, we recommend RUSS (Relevant, Unique, Short, and Sweet).

■ To generate buzz just before the event, pass your hashtag along to your invited guests and ask them to share it with their followers.

■ Create a Twitter list and keep tables on people using your hashtag. These are the folks you want to stay in conversation with.

As an example, I partnered with Financial Advisor (FA) magazine to execute an idea for a Compliant Social Media Summit for financial professionals. Our efforts led to a surprising 700 registered professionals, far more than expected. As part of the effort, we executed a number of key activities, including the following (see Figure 26.3):

■ Created a unique hashtag: #compliantSM.

■ Asked speakers to tweet out registration info using the hashtag.

■ Promoted the event by highlighting – in a quick, engaging way – very specific issues the speakers would address.

Hashtag Promotion

FIGURE 26.3 Hashtag Promotion

■ Identified the relevant LinkedIn groups with appropriated audiences.

■ Posted the event info with a direct link to sign-up in relevant LinkedIn groups.

■ Shared it with our own list of customers and partners.

■ Worked with FA magazine to ensure they, too, promoted it.

Promoting the Event

■ Start this part of the process one and a half to two months before the event; offer prizes or other incentives for people who sign up earliest.

■ Create an event page that outlines all of the key details. This page can appear on your website using a service such as EventBrite, or try Facebook Events (https://facebook.com/eventsdist).

■ Give some thought to what sort of data you'd like to obtain (something besides just a name and e-mail address). This is an opportunity to gather valuable demographic info: website, a guest's role in his company, the size of his company, the social media channels he uses – so you can follow back – and how he heard about the event.

■ For Facebook events: After the event page is created, make sure to go into Facebook as yourself (not the business), say that you are attending the event, and then invite all of your connections personally.

Facebook and LinkedIn's hyper-targeted ad platforms offer good promotional opportunities. You can target by zip code, age, gender, likes/interests, and many other factors. Don't forget to use your hashtag here, too. Record your activities in a spreadsheet and adjust as necessary.

When promoting an event via social media, identify any professional allies that could help the effort. It can be useful to collaborate with a partner in the community who has a similar reach to yours, but not an exact one. Think CPA, estate planning attorney, real estate agent, and so on.

Consider a series of e-mails when reaching out to potential guests in this fashion: a registration e-mail, a confirmation e-mail, a reminder e-mail, a follow-up e-mail, and a lead-nurturing e-mail (about your company, with a call to action).

Provide pre-written tweets using your hashtag in all of your e-mails. Check out ClicktoTweet.com (clicktotweet.com), a platform for Twitter promotions, to create links.

Encourage current clients to invite appropriate, interested friends and family to the event. And if there is going to be a theme for the event – Estate Planning, for example – source and share specific blog articles regarding that topic for the month leading up to your event.

During the Event

■ In your opening introduction, mention your social networks and encourage people to connect and share during the event.

■ Using presentation slides? Include your Twitter handle and hashtag.

■ Include social media icons and the event hashtag on any event signage.

■ People like to see themselves on social media. Take pictures while the event is going on and pass it along on your social networks.

■ Tell your guests to share comments on social media using your hashtag, and stream live updates in a public area.

After the Event

■ The work doesn't end once the guests leave the premises (online or offline). Indeed, this could be the most crucial part of the process.

■ Using your social media channels or a short e-mail, follow up with people you met and chatted with individually.

■ Collecting business cards? Use them to set up LinkedIn connections.

■ Use your event to generate future content:

■ Blogs (or long-form LinkedIn posts) – Turn breakout session topics into a series of posts.

■ Images – Take photos and short videos and post them during and after the event.

■ Videos – Turn any videotaped sessions into an on-demand webinar or a promotion for your next event or testimonial.

Events are a great way to engage with new clients and build on existing ones. They are powerful for that one-to-one dialogue and visual connection that can't always happen online. Events may not always make sense, but if they do, be sure to take advantage of the many ways to give them legs. With a little planning, your event can be buzz-worthy and organically shared with lots of new potential attendees using the power of social media.

 
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