Social media may seem like a fun place to be, but if your goal is to cement your status as a savvy financial advisor with a particular expertise, it’s important to have a plan in place for engaging your target market efficiently and effectively.

“If you spread your net too wide, you are going to attract people you do not want to attract,” says Colleen O’Connell-Campbell, a senior advisor in Ottawa with Scotia Wealth Management, a division of ScotiaMcLeod Inc.

O’Connell-Campbell has developed a social media plan that covers factors all advisors should consider in developing an effective social media presence: joining the right networks, understanding your audience, posting relevant content, and time management.

Her strategy involves deploying posts that are relevant to women, her target market, and which allow her to stay top of mind with clients and centres of influence (COI). She also employs an external marketing company to help manage her social media efforts, so she can maintain a presence while still managing other aspects of her business.

In determining which social media networks to pursue, O’Connell-Campbell settled on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. All three are permitted under her firm’s policies, and they all make it easy to post both written and visual components.

April Rudin, founder of New York-based the Rudin Group, says understanding your audience is critical when choosing social media networks. Once you’ve determined which ones are allowed under your firm’s compliance policy, she recommends focusing on the ones in which you can find your clients and COIs. Although COIs are often overlooked, they can generate valuable referrals, Rudin says.

“Creating a network of other trusted advisors becomes a force multiplier,” she says. “Having one contact can yield 10 referrals or more [as opposed to] marketing to end investors.”

Advisors who would prefer to use just one network should lean toward LinkedIn, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal. LinkedIn is built on established connections rather than random ones, which makes it easier to ensure you’re engaging the right audience.

Another component to consider for your social media plan is content. It’s important to focus on communicating the right ideas that help your audience understand your expertise and engage in relevant conversations.

Finding this content may seem time-consuming, but you can use what you already have. As you’re likely already reading articles and reports related to your business, says Gilbert, you can simply share the ones that are pertinent to your audience.

Adding your own commentary will pull in readers and differentiate your content from a stream of headlines that are copied and pasted and that social media users are likely seeing from other professionals.

For example, you may post a link to a news story about middle-aged Canadians struggling to provide financially for their children and aging parents. Instead of quickly sharing that story, point out an interesting fact and start a conversation by asking readers if this is a situation they can relate to.

In addition to news items, blogs, newsletters and any marketing materials from your firm are also good for sharing.

Although social media is great for demonstrating your expertise, don’t be afraid to get personal. Allow others to learn about what matters to you, such as your passions or charitable causes, suggests Rudin.

“That can be a much more powerful [and engaging] piece of content than anything on pre-retirement goals,” she says.

For O’Connell-Campbell, this is an important component of her social media strategy. In addition to sharing articles about tax tips and other financial matters, she posts about her passion for exercise and advocacy of mental health resources.

Sharing this type of information is useful to prospective clients who want to ensure they are dealing with an advisor who can relate to their own personal situation, says O’Connell-Campbell.

“We’re not robo-advisors,” she says. “At the core of that connection is the personal relationship we have with clients.”

Your next step is managing your time. It’s important to find a way to have a regular presence on social media without that task taking over your day.

Gilbert suggests defining five actions for the week and implementing one of those actions each day. Don’t spend more than 15 minutes on each one.

Those actions may include:

  • Sharing an article relevant to your target market.
  • Making a comment on someone else’s post.
  • Participating in a group conversation on LinkedIn.
  • Sending thank you notes to individuals who have commented on your posts.
  • Sending LinkedIn invites or requests through other networks to follow potential COIs and prospects.

Avoid performing each task on the same day every week, Gilbert says. Rather, she suggests mixing up your daily tasks from week to week, to ensure different people will see it.

For example, if you share a link to your most recent newsletter on Monday, consider switching tasks the following Monday and participate in a LinkedIn conversation with a group of COIs.

This is the second article in a three-part series on social media marketing.

Up next: Tools to help you implement your social media plan.