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Fundamentally changing the way we engage with clients

17 May 2018Jonathan Faurie

Social media has fundamentally changed the way that humans consume information. In the beginning, Facebook was a way to keep in contact with friends, interact with those who you don’t see on a regular basis, and to share life events with family members who are spread across the world. Facebook has now grown into a mass media giant where many people turn to as a first source of information.

How does this affect the financial services industry? FMI recently held a Social Media workshop where Mike Saunders, Founder and CEO of Digitlab, gave his insights into building an effective online presence. 

In the starting blocks

When it comes to finding their place in this brave new world, one of the first questions that advisers ask themselves is whether there is any value in engaging with clients over social media; and to what level this engagement must take place. 

There is no doubt that there is value in social media engagement, especially if the majority of your client base consists of Millennials. But, what should your message be? 

So, how far should an engagement with a client or a potential client be? “Advisers need to remember that if they are engaging with people over social media, they need to market only 25% of their knowledge or the content of a specific message over social media. If you tell a person everything, why would they meet with you to find out more?” said Saunders. 

This is not a warning; rather, it is sage advice because Saunders is a vehement proponent of social media engagement and believes that an adviser’s personal brand is the most valuable asset that they possess. 

Find your voice

As a starting point, advisers need to find their online voice. Saunders pointed out that while social media is largely the realm of the youth, young people are missing the point when it comes to social media engagement. 

“The point of social media is more about bringing people together than it is about shouting a specific message from the roof tops. The younger generation do not realise the value of relationships and cannot leverage these relationships to their best potential,” said Saunders. 

He added that by nature, humans are curious and are interested in stories. While they do recognise brands and are loyal to them, they very often will do business with an insurer because of the personal story that an adviser shares with them. “Clients do business with people, not companies. Share your personal journey,” said Saunders. 

Saunders then challenged the audience of advisers to identify the purpose behind what they do. Is your purpose, as an adviser, selling products? Are you an adviser because you want to educate people about the risks that they face in their everyday life? Or are you an adviser because you want to share your knowledge about an important industry?” asked Saunders. 

Establish credibility

So, you have decided that you want to engage with clients over social media and you have established the purpose behind your reason for being an adviser. What is the next step? 

The next step in the process is to establish your credibility. 

“If you are engaging with your clients over social media, the volume of the content that you put onto the platform is key. Content is your voice. Consider the following situation: a client goes online and is searching for an adviser. He is presented with the social media profile of an adviser who has 20 years’ experience in the industry but doesn’t have a strong presence content wise. The client is also presented with the profile of an adviser that has three years industry experience, but the content on his social media profile is plentiful and is easy to understand. Who do you think the client will do business with? In my experience, it will be the adviser with three years’ experience because the client will feel comfortable that the adviser knows how to simplify a complex issue,” said Saunders. 

Further, what people say about you builds credibility. It may seem like you are harassing a client when you ask them to leave a message of thanks on your social media profile. But Saunders points out that these comments build trust among new clients and builds credibility. 

Important decision

Deciding on which platform you want to use to engage with clients is just as important as making the decision to engage with them over social media in the first place. 

“There is value in every social network. However, advisers need to be aware that different social media networks attract different audiences. Once this has been established, and credibility has been built up, an adviser can use a social media platform as a launchpad for product and services. They are already aware of the platform because they follow your journey, use the platform to your advantage,” said Saunders. 

Do you need a website? Not necessarily. Saunders pointed out that the strength of an adviser is in the human relationships that they build up through face-to-face interaction; therefore, social media engagement is sufficient. 

What is important is to make engagements personal. Establish a common ground to begin a conversation. Also remember, the narrative should not always be about what you do, but what you are passionate about. 

Editors' Thoughts:
We may be preaching to the converted here. There is no doubt that in this day and age advisers have already begun the process of engaging with clients over social media. Does this work for you? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

Comments

Added by Heinz, 21 May 2018
I have made a turn in the property business as an Estate Agent in the last few years and saw how social media is used there very effectively. I am now attempting to use it in a similar way in my financial planning business (have been in the insurance industry for more than 17 years now). The key is not to give it all away - as mentioned above. Also don't offer free services such as helping with medical aid claims etc just to get people to engage as this may become very time consuming for very little monetary or any other return. I believe a first step is just merely to become, and stay "top of mind" and this may take some time...If a potential client sees an interesting article once or twice a month for a year and he has question on one or more of the issues your content reffed to or merely likes the way you view things the chances are good he/she will engage. This takes time...do not get despondent if you don't have 100 engagements in the first month. Next key point is to be consistent with your content...No help in loading content once every six months...ALSO, Don't bombard several times a day...Find a happy comfortable medium and STICK to it. This IS the way of the future. In one of your other articles on this website the A.I. technology advice was discussed. (https://www.fanews.co.za/article/talked-about-features/25/straight-talk/1146/can-common-ground-be-found-between-technology-and-the-intermediated-insurance-model/24440) I'm sure that there is a place for that as well but as so far as using social media to market our unique knowledge and experience I think it is possible to get the message out there successfully using social media that a human with experience is much more useful and effective that a machine with very specific parameters programmed into it.
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Millennials make up 30% of the South African job market; these are your clients and future clients. Do you engage with them?

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