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Balancing act: Making the most of social media

Social media is here to stay, here Quill intern Will Holloway looks at how firms should make the most of online opportunities.

Social media platforms are big news – and no, that’s not the name of an abnormally-high shoe – we’re talking about those big sites that have everyone fixated on their phones.

They have hit the height of popularity – mostly with those enjoying the glee of waking up in the morning to find out they’ve reached ten likes on that post about yesterday’s lunch.

Even business has caught up and have created social media accounts to stay up-to-date with consumers; but many fail to successfully deliver their intended message.

So why do businesses fall short on social media?

The lowdown – businesses can be frankly boring, even mechanical and robotic – if they’re not displaying loads of irritating adverts, they’re sharing yet another mind-numbing post referencing a statistic – most clients do not want this!

The first leap for a business is to recognise the network’s culture. Certain social media sites are geared towards different audiences with different preferences, it is useful to understand the prospective audiences and their interests.

Adviser site Hearsay has looked into how people use the platforms and its managing director, Lucas Wilkens, said: “Understanding how consumers interact with social media is the key to gaining engagement and building a credible business brand via the different social platforms.

“Much of the frustration we see with social media marketing is down to the disconnect between what advisers think they should publish and what their potential audience actually wants to see.”

It tends to be a factor surrounding the type of posts more than anything. The same Hearsay study surrounding financial advisors and their social media activity said: “From the 77,000 advisers who use our service worldwide shows that the most successful ratio is 70 per cent lifestyle, 20 per cent financial and 10 per cent corporate yet many advisers particularly in the UK, fall into the trap of posting few, if any, lifestyle posts.”

From this we can work out how some advisers manage to be successful on social media, by falling within the bounds of blending genuine human sentiment with professionalism of the brand.

A good way to address the question of managing social media is mainly to see it as a way of balancing the professionalism with social engagement.

Putting a face to the name

The start of which begins by building relationships, specifically with clients, by responding to questions, providing advice and generally staying in touch with them.

Alex Pigliucci, a global managing director at Accenture, has found that “investors are demanding online resources to help them better understand investment strategy and advice”, hence the need for advisors to be increasingly available and literate on social media.

Think about social media as less of a selling point and more of a way to “humanise” your brand. Differing it from competitors within the market by sharing of quality content and demonstration of expertise so that your followers stay interested and engaged.

LinkedIn is the best option for joining sector-relevant groups and communities and participating in conversations. Many people go online looking for help with things such as financial planning and enquiring in the discussion boards. By constructing a well thought out professional reply, businesseses can increase awareness of their brand and show their expertise to assist and perhaps even gain new clients.

Twitter specifically offers “tweet chats” where people can take part in conversation by using the same/similar hashtags. This is another efficient way to talk about specific products and engage with people personally by offering feedback and answers.

Humans tend to be visual beings. It has been proven over multiple studies that posting compelling pictures and videos expands interest and appeal when it comes to clients sharing your posts. This works particularly well on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram where pictures are prominent in the your followers’ newsfeed.

Get chatting

Encouraging conversation is exactly the reasoning behind “social” networking. The best way to go about this is by asking questions for clients to respond to. If the audiences have a question for you, respond as soon as possible! This as a great way to show consumers that your brand is willing to listen and engage with them.

The final key factor in composing your business identity on social media is to always stay professional. It is all too easy a task on networks such as Facebook and Twitter to become informal and careless. Steer away from your personal life when writing on a professional business page as losing professionalism could lose the respect of consumers. Show personality in a civilised way by humanising yourself and avoiding the trap of repeating monotonous corporate advertising.

Will Holloway