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Social media and business

Social media has rapidly become an integral part of our everyday lives over the last 10 years or so but, depending on whether or not you use it correctly, it can be the best or the worst thing for your business. RL360° takes a detailed look at how can it best be harnessed to serve an effective business purpose.

Social media is taking over the world. Should we be wary? Possibly. But can we use it? Most definitely.

According to the website We Are Social, there are 2 billion active social accounts worldwide, and that number is set to rise. 1 in 13 people are hooked on Facebook, 302 million people log on to Twitter a month, and someone new joins LinkedIn every two seconds.

If you are a financial advisor who only dips their toe into social media every now and then, you may want to rethink your strategy. Recent research by Greenwich Associates said that almost 80% of those investing on behalf of an institution are using social media regularly for work, and 30% have been influenced to make a decision based on information from social media.

LinkedIn has been named the financial advisor’s favourite, with 9 in 10 using social media having an active profile, and 60% reporting that they have received business directly because of it.

Although LinkedIn is the current favourite, the rules for successful social media apply to whichever platform you favour. Content is your strongest asset, everything you share gives you a chance to connect and talk to current and potential clients; it’s another way of engaging them into conversation with you. It opens up another door that can lead to honest conversation and eventually to new business. Content that raises awareness or offers a solution to a problem make up some of the best, it allows you as an adviser space to make a recommendation and then explain why you think the product is good. Something this simple can turn a sales talk into something genuine and really engaging.

When posting anything online or talking, be tasteful and insightful at all times, nobody wants to do business with the company that made a joke at the expense of someone else. You only need to look at the condemnation that an injury lawyer firm received regarding a mistimed tweet following the recent rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers. Once something is on the internet it is incredibly hard to take it back so think carefully about what you are about to post and whether it is appropriate.

So you’ve put up your content and people have begun engaging with you, now you have to move the conversation forward. Creating a trustworthy bond with someone over the internet is hard, but social media can create an informal environment in which questions can be asked and answered almost instantaneously. The person you’re speaking to feels no pressure to move forward with anything, and you as the adviser can have a relaxed chat allowing them to gauge whether or not you are the right person for the job. It becomes an effective tool.

Now you’re posting regularly and maintaining conversations, keeping a positive presence online becomes incredibly important. Social media gives people voice and the anonymity of the internet provides them the courage to use it. A positive discussion can quickly transforms into something that is out of your control, and can turn into an extremely negative experience. All you can do is try to limit the damage, responding quickly and honestly. Move the discussion away from the public forum, by suggesting email or giving a phone number. Most people complaining on social media are doing so because they feel as though they have been ignored, so by listening and dealing with their problem it can cool the situation down, and prevent it from becoming a lot worse.

There are those who enjoy causing trouble by posting things that just aren’t true, commonly known as ‘trolls’. It is usually best to ignore this rather than acknowledge that they have written something, try to move the conversation off social media, and if this doesn’t work write a single post explaining that what they are saying is wrong with evidence as to why. It would also be a good idea to leave a contact email for them to get in touch, it shows your other clients that you are willing to talk through any problems people may have.

Social media can be the best or the worst thing for your business depending on whether or not you use it correctly. The risks are high if you neglect your presence; it can lead to irreparable damage to your reputation, so if you aren’t 100% committed then this isn’t for you. If you can commit a decent amount of time to it and remain present then the benefits outweigh the risk.

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