Social media is not just for reconnecting with former classmates and sharing photos from this year’s family reunion; websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and now Google+ can be valuable professional tools when you develop your social media presence with certain relationship building goals in mind. Taking advantage of the possible connections that social media provides and working to develop relationships with potential clients, peers, and competitors can benefit your business in ways that were not possible prior to the age of social media.

Rather than using social media for direct marketing, which is more likely to turn people away, it is most effective to indirectly promote your firm by developing your own individual online presence. Regularly publishing, posting and tweeting on related issues shows that you are active and engaged within the business community, which will in turn reflects positively on your firm.  The two dimensions for measuring social media impact are reach and influence. With regular, if not frequent, substantive updates and a large network of followers will help drive the velocity of your practice and give you the benefit of positive name recognition.

One of the most effective ways that you can take advantage of social media’s networking opportunities is to collaborate with both peers and competitors in order to learn from their business practices. Join an industry group on LinkedIn and start a discussion to share tips on anything from best investment practices to which software to use. Collaborating with peers online also allows you to gain a better understanding of what they deal with, which will help you to be better prepared to work with them offline.

You can also use social media to your advantage by developing closer personal relationships with clients. Friend clients on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. You will develop a better understanding of your client as a person, which will allow you to plan better for them and therefore increase their overall satisfaction. In browsing their profile you might discover a mutual interest that could influence investment plans, and responding to their posts will show that you are engaged and attentive. Conversely, your clients will get to know you better by following your updates, allowing for a more personal and natural relationship. Advisory firms that want to draw in younger clients and investors will need to tap into social media. Of course, you must weigh your own public persona and determine how visible and transparent you want to be. Each channel has unique characteristics which may make it more suitable for personal use rather than business use. Compliance considerations are always there – but increasingly managable with a combination of tools and policies.

There are certain limitations to keep in mind when diving into the social media world. Posts are typically best kept brief – mandatory on Twitter – and nuance is easily lost, so tread carefully. There are also certain rules that regulate advisers’ public communications in order to protect investors. The SEC has not yet established any rules or guidelines specific to social media, which has allowed advisers working at small firms more room to move when working with social media. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), however, has issued rules for the use of social media, requiring broker-dealers to be more formal and deliberate in their social media communications.

Provided that these rules and limitations are managed, social media networks can be a highly effective tool to benefit your business through relationship building. Be active and engaged in the online community and your growing online network will benefit your business offline, too.

With all the emphasis on inbound marketing, I thought I would put in a plug for the good old US Post Office.

email_guyThere is no doubt that the shift has happened – we buy and are influenced increasingly via the web. For the organizations we work with – those with F2F and more complex sales and marketing – the disruption has already taken place. We are helping our clients integrate an entirely new marketing-to-sales value chain. But while this is happening, more and more businesses are jumping onto the Content Marketing bandwagon and it is getting noisy. Just like with traditional media, we are able to filter and tune out much of the content coming our way.

Great – especially creative – content is still very powerful for inbound marketing, but what about when your rifle [target] list for a campaign is in the 100s of companies? What about when your contact universe is highly focused? Can you rely on these target companies to search for and find “you” on the web when they are ready to make a buying decision? No!

Enter the multi-touch digital and direct campaign. Sometimes, you need to bring out all the fly-fishing tackle and a range of flies. We are doing this with early success at one of our clients right now. We are running integrated multi-touch revenue programs. Creative campaigns to drive leads and nurture potential new relationships toward highly targeted audiences:

  • Creative and entertaining theme – a serious business messages delivered to real people
  • Direct mail – yes we are sending packages to these clients… just like the old days
  • F2F inside sales – we pre-call, call and post call at each touch point
  • eMail – we continue to use email as another impression – researching to find the right people
  • Content – white papers and video help to reinforce the value proposition
  • Call to action – we make an offer you can’t refuse -attend the briefing /webinar and get a thank you gift
  • Landing pages – using the latest in innovative marketing automation technology
  • LinkedIn ads – LinkedIn ads help you target down to the very specific people you want to reach

So far so good. This audience has been inundated with competitive messages, but we are getting our client’s brand out front with engaging content and enough brand touches to nurture the relationships for the long term.