Social media is being heralded as the new way to communicate, network and market your business. But for many financial professionals, there are serious barriers to fully engaging in social networking.
While there may be lots of reasons cited for not getting involved, in my experience these four are the most common:
- compliance concerns
- lack of control over what happens in social networks
- lack of time
- lack of knowledge
Below, I will address each of these four barriers to social media engagement and offer some tips for how you can overcome them.
1. Compliance requirements can be unclear.
Social media networks and tools are indeed creating some compliance gray areas for many financial professionals and this can make social networking look like murky waters to be avoided.
But don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the murky bathwater.
Social media compliance issues are being clarified each day and social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter are becoming dominant players in the financial services space.
But, the best way to overcome your concerns around compliance in social media is to reframe the issue. Stop seeing compliance as a barrier to social media and start seeing it as an opportunity to focus on being social and nurturing relationships. Tweeting about the products you sell is not the most effective way to show people why they would want to do business with you.
Instead, use social networks to build your credibility. Get to know your clients better and let them get to know you. Use social networks as a convenient way to reach out, to add value, to connect. Remember, people do business with people they know like and trust.
Leave the transactional “heavy lifting” – that is, whatever conversations you need to have with your client in order for him/her to make an informed product or investment decision – to traditional channels such as face-to-face meetings, telephone calls and email. And whatever you do on social media, make sure you can archive it, store it and be able to retrieve it.
2. Conversations in social media cannot be controlled.
Yes, that is correct.
You need to understand – and accept – that you cannot control online conversations, user-generated content or even search results about yourself. Don’t let this lack of control dissuade you from participating in social media.
Instead, you should focus on what you can control in social media:
- You CAN participate in online dialogue.
- You CAN inspire people about your brand.
- You CAN respond, reply and engage.
Social media is a conversation between you and your market. It’s a two-sided affair that demands your participation and engagement.
Don’t give up your voice in the conversation just because you can’t control the outcome.
3. There’s no time for social media.
As professionals, we are often very busy people. Time is the most valuable and scarcest commodity in our day-to-day work lives. So, how can it make sense to spend your precious time in front of the computer chatting with people?
Social media engagement does takes time, but there are compelling reasons for you to make time for it. For one, social networks are convenient – they alleviate the need to travel as much in order to maintain connections with important people in your network. And social networking helps you to leverage your time, since when you’re having public exchanges within your network many people can listen in and observe. Social media done right actually makes you more efficient with your time.
Here are some suggestions for making time for social media:
- Re-evaluate ALL your time allocations – You may love golfing, but is it always the most efficient way to stay in touch with many clients and prospects?
- Use your support team to help you – Learning how to leverage your team will make you smarter and more efficient.
- Burn some midnight oil – There’s a learning curve with social media and you may need to put in a little after hours time to figure it out.
- Outsource – Consultants, specialists and third-party services can really help you if you understand the vital role you have to play and then hire out to enhance your capacity.
4. Don’t know what to do or say.
Many accomplished professionals feel out of their element in social networks. What should you say on Twitter? Maybe you don’t feel like you’re much of a writer. Perhaps you are a bit technophobic.
Admittedly, there’s a lot to learn in social – new tools, new etiquette, new people to meet and new ways to meet them.
But here’s the good news: everything you ever wanted to know about social media is available online and mostly for free. Try experimenting personally with social media tools – connect with your friends and family – and get the hang of sharing in an online space.
Most importantly, your unique perspective on the world is precisely what your social networks want from you. It’s why your clients do business with you and refer you to others. And it’s the very basis of your personal brand on which you’ve built your success so far.
Your most important goal in social media is this: to unleash your personal brand.
Because no one else can do it for you.