Industry Trends

Doing business in the social space – yes, it’s possible


Industry

The impact of social media and social networking on how we conduct business in the 21st century continues to grow every day. With just a few key strokes, you can find a lot of information about a company, or person, and decide whether or not you’d want to do business with them. 

So the question I want to address is: “How can social media be used to effectively bring awareness to your client base?” Is it as simple as creating a Facebook page for your business and getting people to like it? The answer is yes and no. One article I read recently stated we are witnessing the emergence of the human face of data and the unprecedented creation and sharing of knowledge. It’s an intriguing topic, and I could go on for much longer than a blog post.

If you’re just starting to use social media, pick one platform to focus on and learn. If expanding your reach, I suggest that you do it one platform at a time and focus your efforts on effectively mastering each before moving to the next. Consider doing research to see which social media platform is most effective based on your target audience. My observation has been that Facebook is the best place to start for most of the clients we want to target in the financial services business. 

I have personally found that LinkedIn works better as a professional platform than as one for trying to engage consumers and clients. Remember, this is a blog, and I am not an expert. I am active on Facebook and LinkedIn, but I don’t interact much with Twitter or the other emerging platforms out there. Time is a finite currency, and I have to allocate it accordingly or I could be online all day. 

Once you have chosen your platform, make sure you know the rules of engagement you may have if you are affiliated with a broker-dealer or any parent-type of company. Establish some ground rules about how frequently you want to post and how much/what type of information you wish to share. 

When I look through Facebook, I often think of the acronym TMI – Too Much Information. Be careful how personal or mundane you get, if you must share those details keep them off your business Facebook page. Give your audience a taste, and if they are still hungry, provide the links to the entire article or resources you wish to share. You can set up automatic Google Alerts to find topics that you think are pertinent. Tell a story when possible and give examples – people will remember more with a real-life example.

The last point I would like to share is to be resourceful. Leverage and engage the associates and subject matter experts in your network and reach out to firms who offer free guidance and advice. Ask friends and family how they are using social media. Of course, take all this information with a grain of salt, as social media is still figuring out its place in the workplace, and the rules change almost as fast as people can think them up.

At Ash Brokerage, we have a skilled social media team who curates informational content focused on insurance and the financial services industry. Be sure to follow us and give us a shout out on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest and even more to come in 2015! Happy surfing!

The Bottom Line: Social media is a powerful tool – learn how to use it correctly, and it could have a positive impact on your business.  

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Bill Murray and the Holy Grail of #SocialMedia Marketing


Industry

Confession: “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray is one of my favorite movies. OK, OK – be easy on me. I realize it’s not “Gone With The Wind” (I’ve never seen it), but there’s a line in it so fitting for financial professionals that I could never shake it out of my head. It’s when weatherman Phil Connors (played by  Bill Murray) says, “Well, what if there’s no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” BOOM – just like that, I loved the movie.

 

I’ve seen lots of great quotes, videos and montages on the wisdom, intellect and humor of Bill Murray. A few months back, Todd Van Luling from the Huffington Post wrote an article that was geared to those looking for tips on living an amazing life, but he inadvertently gave up the goods on the inner workings of awesome social media marketing. Those lessons were:

1. Be an individual who also takes care of others. This is the very best reason for social media to exist, and it also sums up how we should be using it: to take care of others. Financial professionals’ true due diligence is about making certain when a client says, “Am I going to be ok?” that they will be OK or as close to OK as possible. This transcends into our social media marketing, whether it’s personal or professional. Look at how you are posting on Facebook: Are you posting ways to be of service and help others? Or are you posting negative, derogatory content for others to read? Look at your answers in LinkedIn groups. Are you offering heartfelt advice (which can be in disagreement)? Or are you going out of your way to disparage and tear someone down? As Todd outlines in his article, Bill Murrary reminds, “I think we ought to be personally responsible.” [Click to Tweet this!] Care should be at the very core of our culture in financial services.

2. Be open to all possibilities. Look at all opportunities as a possibility. Someone connecting with you on LinkedIn might be a great center of influence. Trying out Twitter and learning how to use it (while being compliant!) might be a great way to meet new people. Open yourself up to learning something new and relevant. As Bill Murray says, “I try to be available for life to happen to me.” [Click to Tweet this!] Enlist the help of the younger generations. They are eager to connect with you on a topic they know a lot about, and you never know, the old dog might learn some new tricks!

3. Try not to focus on the bad – stay optimistic. Maybe long-term care insurance is not getting the best news right now. Well, don’t focus on that – instead, focus on the opportunities these necessary products bring to families and tell THOSE stories on social media. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard advisors start off by saying, “Yeah, because of what happened in 2008 …” Guess what? We all got burned in 2008 … move on, look for the silver lining and stop letting those types of thoughts drive your content and conversations. There is a world of opportunities out there for all of us – let’s discuss those!

4. R-E-S-P-E-CT.  I know you can’t say that without hearing Aretha Franklin’s iconic voice spelling it out for you!  Respect is a lost art anymore. Whether it’s the whole YOLO (You Only Live Once) attitudes we run into or the busy-ness of life, respect has fallen through the cracks. Want to be different online? Want to be remembered? Then respect other’s comments. Respect other’s opinions. Respect their feelings, differences, positions, etc. Respect the people who connect/fan/ follow you. And definitely respect the ones who do not.

5. Don’t just coast through life. Automation has become a way for people to take the easy way out of doing real work, especially the real work in social media. People send LinkedIn connection requests with the automated language provided. People have direct messages set to go out when they connect with people on Twitter. Email solicitations come to you from salespeople who grow aggravated if you don’t respond. Stop automating and start engaging. Take the time to do the work, and as Bill Murray says, “… Be as engaged as you can …”

6. Be someone at all times. Every person has a unique value proposition. It’s important that we be ourselves as much as possible when using social media. I had an advisor who had a personal Twitter account with a good following. He decided that he had to open a second Twitter account for his business needs, and I strongly advised against it. I asked him, “Who do you plan to be on the other account?” He said he wanted to sound more “professional.” But why? His followers are engaged with his personal account because they really liked him for him. He eventually realized his personal account was enough and deleted the second account. You are enough; be just that at all times.

7. Accept the past, then move on. No one will do social media correctly when they start. Absolutely nobody. Not even Mark Zuckerberg. You’re going to make mistakes. Think about your life overall – it hasn’t been perfect, right? Well, neither will social media marketing. Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media reminds everyone his book “The Thank You Economy” that, “Exxon dumped all its oil in the ocean and people never stopped buying their gas.” Your errors and failures make you human. It’s OK – get over it.

8. Just relax. Just as a massage therapist tells their clients, I remind advisors to just relax. By relaxing, you open yourself up to better learning, different opportunities and different perspectives. There is no secret that great leaders recharge their batteries to keep going – the same goes for you and your marketing. Relaxing makes you better, and as Bill Murray says, “The more relaxed you are…the better you are with yourself.” [Click to Tweet this!]

 

Hats off to Bill Murray for being authentic in his words, crazy antics and warm fuzzy feelings. And an enormous shout out again to Todd Van Luling for his brilliantly packaged thoughts. Finding great content that I can correlate and make social media marketing easier to understand for others is appreciated – and for that I’m grateful.

 

Social media

Planning for Personal Growth


Industry

As you read this, end-of-the-year activities are in full swing. You’re most likely working on a 2015 business plan or you’ve already completed one. I am hopeful that you’ve included – or will include – a plan for personal growth. It’s hard to create a successful outward plan without also looking inward, evaluating and leveraging what’s important to you in order to stay motivated and moving forward.

Here are some suggestions to consider for personal growth:

  • Have an attitude of gratitude – Be grateful, not great
  • Think about what you think about – What motivates you?
  • Remember, we cannot control what happens to us – We can control how we react
  • Live in the world, not of the world – Avoid distractions
  • Be present- Live in the moment
  • Grow – Get out of your comfort zone 
  • Strive for excellence – Not perfection

Make a commitment to yourself every day. Internalize the strategies you like the best or create your own, then hold yourself accountable to your standards. 

As time keeps on slipping into the future (tick, tock, tick, tock!) you have three choices: You can make it happen, let it happen or say what happened. 

The Bottom Line: Every single day, Ash Brokerage is here as your resource to help you make it happen. 

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