U.S. asset managers in the dark on social media

As you wrestle with how to leverage social media to build your business, you might consider bringing on a specialist for help. But since social media in the context of financial services comes with its own set of rules, both parties will need to take special care when crafting a social media strategy.

“You need to meet with the person to get a feel for their approach and the overall dynamic,” says Nora Cocan, UX (user experience) creative director at Bank of Montreal, in Toronto. “You need to make sure there’s a good partnership.”

Finding the right fit “depends on the scope of what the specialist will be doing,” says Geoff Evans, founder of Social Media Coach and the Animated Advisor.

“Advisors need to ask deeper questions beyond how many fans you create,” adds Evans. “I would be more concerned with having someone who can communicate in compelling ways.”

If you need someone to do an overhaul and develop your strategy, Evans suggests reflecting on these five questions before making a decision:

1. Do they treat social media as more than a marketing tool?
It’s not enough to release posts that seek to build your credibility in the field. You want someone who understands that social media also acts as a listening post, which can be used to “gather intelligence” and find referrals, says Evans.

2. Are they making recommendations immediately?
The first meeting should not dive straight into what needs to be changed. “I want to make sure they’re not just walking in,” says Evans. “[They should] take the time to get to know my practice — who I am, who my target clients are, what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Since social media is so personal, the specialist should make a genuine effort to tailor their approach to your needs. Otherwise, he says, it comes across as though they are just “throwing around ideas they’ve picked up over the years.”

3. How are they seeking to integrate everything?
Ask whether they plan to take stock of all of your existing social media accounts. “Are they treating it as a silo or [looking at] how it integrates with my blog?” says Evans.

In addition, the specialist should take an interest in how the social media strategy can complement your overall approach to business.

4. Have they recommended appropriate platforms?
Your presence on social media should be based on where your audience engages most, not on the specialist’s level of comfort with it, says Evans. Instead of being everywhere all at once, it’s better to shore up business where your target demographic sounds off.

5. How willing are they to understand the business?
It’s rare to find someone who is comfortable in both the world of financial services and social media.

“Financial experience is nice to have, but it’s not always the case,” says BMO’s Cocan. “It takes years of experience of working in this environment [to understand it].”

However difficult it is to acquire that “unique skill set,” says Evans, the specialist should demonstrate interest in learning more about your products. The time they spend doing so will go a long way in helping them articulate your ideas online.

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