Signal Boost Blog

A funny thing happened on the way to last year’s elections. Using sophisticated online techniques that wedded advanced social media with emotional email marketing, huge amounts of money were raised.  

The success of those campaigns caused many nonprofit executives and boards to take another look at how–if at all– they raise money online. 

Donate Computer Key In Blue Showing Charity And FundraisingOnline giving to nonprofits soared 11% in 2012, according to the Blackbaud Index, which tracks approximately $8 billion in US-based charitable giving to nonprofits. Overall giving to nonprofits was up only 2%. 

Although digital fundraising still represents less than 10% of total giving, the trend is accelerating. Where only 4% of Americans gave online in 2002, in 2012 it rocketed to 65 % of the population.

No wonder a recent survey  of nonprofit leaders revealed that for almost half “rethinking revenue model & income generation” is a top priority.

Here’s why. According to Blackbaud’s 2012 Charitable Giving Report, medium-sized nonprofits saw a year-over-year increase in online donations of 14.3% in 2012, followed by small nonprofits (up 11.8%) and large organizations (up 7.2%) bringing up the rear. 

Online has also become the channel of choice for donors in response to natural disasters. The Salvation Army, for example, raised $3 million online to assist the victims of SuperStorm Sandy, out of a total take of $3.4 million.

In the Toolkit

Which of the many online tools do you need for a successful online fundraising effort? Here is a quick list of key elements.

  • An attractively designed, up-to-date website that is fully integrated with social media and incorporates Responsive Web Design that automatically adapts to a wide range of devices (desktop, smartphones, pads) for easy reading and navigation.
  • An email list of supporters. Most of your donations online will be generated by email solicitations. So, if you don’t have a quality list, then you need to start building one right away using social media petitions, call-outs and other techniques.
  • An email service provider (ESP). There’s a wide range of providers and choosing one depends upon your budget and the size of your list.
  • A double opt-in feature for new list members that require them to click on a link sent to their email box to provide consent and prevent spam.
  • Analytics to track and measure open rates, click-throughs, and actual giving. These measurements, along with a technique called A/B split testing, allow for detailed analysis of what works and what does not.

Art and Scienceart & science

Writing an email message is a combination of the science of testing and analytics, as well as the art of emotional appeal. Frequency and types of messages, and subject lines must be carefully considered.

As I’ve written before, social media works great for creating and building brand awareness through exposure, influence, and engagement at the top of the sales funnel.  But when it comes to building an enthusiastic base and making direct fundraising appeals, what works is email.

If you haven’t started a sophisticated digital fundraising program yet, what are you waiting for? By not focusing online, you’re leaving money on the table. 

 

Need help with your digital fundraising program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or email me at info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and other organizations communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, tactics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop me a line on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

No matter what type of organization you work for, social media can play an important role in moving prospects down the sales funnel toward the goal of closing a deal. 

Sales-FunnelWhether that’s purchasing a product or service, signing up for membership in a nonprofit association, attending an event, making a contribution, or supporting a political candidate, it doesn’t matter.

Social media has become the critical tool at the top of the sales funnel. It creates an environment in which your business or campaign becomes recognized online and the sales process can really begin. If you’re focused only on ROI, you’re missing its value. Social media is about creating and building brand awareness through exposure, influence, and engagement. Analytical tools can measure success or motivate you to recalibrate. 

How Many Touches?

Recently, I spoke to a board member of a small association that sent out a single fundraising email at the end of the year. It didn’t work. She understood why.

Campaigns often need between seven and 12 touches. Social media is frequently a first, second, or even third touch before any other marketing technique.

Think you can simply share content from other sources? Sorry but you need your own content in the mix. That means original written or video blog posts that showcase your thought-leadership. Then you must disseminate the posts widely over social media, appropriate for your strategy, so they can be found and shared. Fresh, relevant, quality content is also one of the keys to a solid SEO strategy.

It’s unlikely that your audience has committed yet. You need to persuade them through your brilliant original content. Then, you need them to trust you enough to click on a call-to-action embedded in your blog or website to get that irresistible eBook, report, or ticket to an event in exchange for something of great  value to you—their email, phone number, and address.

Moving Closer to Closing

Obtaining that data moves them down your sales funnel. Usually, you’re not yet at the point of closing.  So now you bring other tactics to bear like a tele-prospecting and nurturing stream. That’s right—old fashion phone calls. Even direct mail for non-responders.

You could be lucky and make the sale. But with all these techniques, you still might be only half way to 12 touches. So, next:

  • Keep up the social media, creating a regular stream of content;
  • Conduct A/B testing to determine the best offer when someone clicks through to your landing page;
  • Test the landing pages, timing and frequency, too.
  • Analyze what gets the best response.

To get to prospective buyers, attendees, or voters before the competition and nurture the relationship, start with social media and build brand awareness through exposure, influence, and engagement. Then expand, grow, and win. 

 

Need help with your digital program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and others communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, tactics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop me a line on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

It’s back! Charles Schwab’s entertaining financial video series returned recently after a five month hiatus. It still features the deadpan humor of host Mike Cianfrocca, is shorter in length—a minute rather than 90 seconds—and is called Tweet of the Week rather than the old version’s 60 Seconds in Money. But these financial videos are still aimed straight at the heart of America’s largest—and untapped—generation, the Millennials.

The series is silly, but not really. The latest installment on December 14th was an update on Santa’s credit score. Says Cianfrocca: “Santa Claus shouldn’t have any trouble getting a loan this holiday season… Santa’s credit score is 777… For those of you who don’t have an army of elves to help you manage your credit, you’re in luck.”

At 36-seconds, a photo of jolly ol’ Santa appears, then a call-to-action overlay at the bottom of the screen that clicks through to another video. The second video reveals a more serious person, the head of the Schwab Foundation giving credit score tips.

Schwab does a lot of videos. Most are by serious executives that are watched only a small number of times. A recent video by Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders about the Fiscal Cliff was seen by nearly 20,700.  But it’s hard to imagine your average 20-something ever clicking on any of them.

A recent study released by Prudential Retirement showed that Millennials are concerned about their future. The sample indicated a desire to allocate 17% of leftover monthly income to savings for retirement.

Schwab, like every other investment firm, wants Millennials to like them. The potential is a tidal wave of business. Born between 1980 and 2000, the Millennial Generation will account for 50% of the global workforce by 2020.

Prudential has a variety of unorganized videos. Merrill Lynch, CitiGroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Fidelity have YouTube channels with plenty of material, none aimed at 20-somethings. Wells Fargo has a well-developed channel with some highly produced, video documentaries of community nonprofits that are appealing. Vanguard has a couple of hip ones.

Yet no other major investment firm targets twenty-somethings using financial videos in such an intelligent and clever way as Charles Schwab.

Another Schwab video series was the Oh Chuck! I Blew My Cash Contest that ran earlier in 2012 and solicited videos from people who made stupid financial mistakes.  Yet despite television commercials and a Facebook contest to boost Oh Chuck!, the video submitted by the grand prize winner—a guy who spent $600 buying a bouncy house—was viewed only 1,230 times.

Well, okay. That’s not bad.

But considering the last installment before the rebranding of Cianfrocca’s 60 Seconds in Money was watched by almost 265,000, bouncy-bounce was far from breath-taking.

The Tweet of the Week series has yet to be really noticed with the Santa episode racking up only 130 views in the first five days. If Schwab sticks with it, I’ll bet those numbers will grow. 

 

Need help with your social media program? Contact Scott Peterson right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and others communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, tactics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop me a line on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

One after another, industries are changing under the onslaught of the Internet. Newspapers reeling…  brick and mortar stores hit by online retailers… universities going online. Will traditional funding of small businesses and entrepreneurs by banks and broker-dealers be next?

Maybe.  It’s one of the reasons why, in April, 2012 President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, better known as the JOBS Act

Under the new law, web portals will act as an intermediary between entrepreneurial small businesses and investors.

Crowdfunding Model

The powerful model of website intermediaries collecting and disbursing funds while spreading the word about opportunities through social media is working already for donations and lending. (See GoFundMe, Kiva, Upstart, Kickstarter, and others.)

But crowdfunding investment portals are waiting for rules from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA before they can conduct business. Word is the rules may not be out before Spring 2013. Until then, any shares offered would be unregistered securities.

D.O.A.?

The question is… will the SEC and FINRA smother the promise of equity crowdfunding? Considering how slow the securities industry is to fully adopt social media due to misunderstanding and fear of rules and regulations , it’s a real concern.

Once the rules have been issued, a small business could, theoretically, raise up to $1 million annually and be exempt from registering shares with federal and state securities regulators.  That eliminates a major cost of raising capital. The requirement to disclose risk and all material facts to investors, however, would remain.

There are limits on how much an individual could invest. For incomes under $100,000, there is a $2,000 limit per investment and a total of 5% of income for all investments. For incomes over $100,000, the limit is 10% of income. But there is no enforcement mechanism as yet. I would imagine the regulators are thinking a lot about that.

NASAA Warnings

A huge number of sites are up and waiting for the rules to be issued. According to the North American Securities Administrators Association, nearly 6,800 websites with “crowdfunding” in their domain names have sprung up since the law was signed. NASAA, which has created an Internet Fraud Investigations Group, has placed crowdfunding at the top of its current list of investor threats.

However, “[m]any of these sites appear to have been formed by large credible organizations,” said Robert Moilanen, Minnesota Securities Director and chair of NASAA’s Internet Fraud Group, in an interview with Advisor One.

Most portals are domain sitters or fly-by-nighters and there is an expectation of a shake-out once the portals are authorized.

New Ways of Thinking

One could easily imagine highly-reputable companies, brand names, building websites that walk small business owners through everything they must disclose in order to be complaint with the law. Brand names that are comfortable with the Internet revolution. Highly-reputable companies that understand what disintermediation is all about and have a proven record of success.

As they write the rules, will the SEC and FINRA see only the risks of equity crowdfunding? Or will they also see the possibilities of a whole new way to use the Internet to fund the next American dream? 

 

Need help with your social media program? Contact Scott Peterson right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and others communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, tactics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

(This post was published earlier this year, but is still very relevant for investment advisors considering a social media program.)

“Social media is landscape-shifting” states the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission in a National Examination Risk Alert, titled “Investment Adviser Use of Social Media,” that was issued earlier this month. That phrase, although kind of odd, does sum up what is happening. 

“It converts the traditional two-party, adviser-to-client communication into an interactive, multi-party dialogue among advisers, clients, and prospects, within an open architecture accessible to third-party observers.”

Change is upon us. Yet it is hard for most financial professionals to understand because of the threat involved:  social media must be used in a regulatorily compliant manner… or else. So, let’s step beyond the fear of an enforcement action to dissect one element of the Alert.

Social Media Policy

The Alert was written after the staff of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OSCIE) identified registered investment advisers of various sizes and reviewed whether or not they were using social media in a way that was compliant with federal securities laws. One thing that quickly became apparent was that few had a social media policy. Overlapping procedures regarding how to properly employ advertisements, client communications, and electronic communications were in place, but they were not specific to the use of social media. In addition, OSCIE found that the following essential elements were frequently missing:

  • Guidance about which social media sites were permitted or prohibited;
  • How social media could be used to solicit new clients, including the prohibition of specific functions on social media sites;
  • Content standards that prevent a registered investment advisor or associated person from violating fiduciary standards or other regulatory issues;
  • The approval process including compliance oversight;
  • Prohibition of conducting firm business on personal social media profiles; and
  • Issues of information security.

This is a “non-exhaustive list,” in the words of the SEC.

Think It Through First

Investment advisors who are regulated by the SEC need to take this seriously. Even if you are a smaller firm or a solo practitioner, about to switch to state regulation, you still need to do this right. 

Once your social media policy is in place, you’re not done. As the landscape shifts, your policy will require re-examination. It’s just the first step in thinking through the use of social media to avoid the hammer coming down on you. 

 

Need help with your program? Contact us. We can help. 

SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides integrated Internet marketing, compliance training, and more to a wide range of organizations.

To find out how you can receive a free Amplification Guide to learn advanced social media techniques, click here now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED.

I caught up with the Financial Planning Association’s Erica Spencer last weekend at a conference in Denver. Erica is the FPA’s web services manager and social media guru.

Spencer had more advice for companies and associations that had started a social media program, but are unwilling to devote the resources to make it work. It’s better to delete social media platforms if you’re not going to use them instead of allowing them to hang out in cyberspace abandoned. 

Financial Planning AssociationThe FPA’s online program proved its overall online sophistication earlier this year when it teamed up with the CFP Board and NAPFA to defeat FINRA’s attempt to become the self-regulatory organization for the investment advisory industry.

Of course, it was made easier by the fact that FINRA doesn’t have a comprehensive online presence. But that doesn’t take away from the trio’s campaign. 

I wrote about FPA’s social media network for members, FPA Connect, last year. I was skeptical at the time, warning how difficult it can be to start such a venture. But it appears to be working according to discussions I’ve had with FPA members. 

With Erica Spencer involved, I’d bet on its success. 

 

Need help with your program? Contact Scott Peterson right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and government communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, social media and Internet marketing, online video campaigns, website development, analytics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

Does your company still have a newsroom where your press releases grow old and die? There’s a better way. Turn it into a news blog.

If you are a publicly-traded company, you have an obligation to issue material news that could impact your share price in a way that is broadly disseminated to the public. Even if you’re not publicly traded, you may want to keep the option of distributing your most important news over a traditional news wire.

A Breakfast Routine

A financial reporter told me recently that every weekday morning, he sits down with his son and daughter at the breakfast table and, before they go to school, he deletes press releases. Dozens of them.

Anyone who has ever been in that position—either as a reporter, an editor or who works in media relations and sees what’s on the news wires—knows that the vast majority don’t rise to the level of importance that a news release demands.

Here are some reasons a news blog make sense.

  1. Reduce costs. Traditional news dissemination services are expensive. Anyone who has ever put out a press release or paid the invoices understands the per word charges that come after the contractual limit. Then, there are costs for wider distribution, graphics or embedded video, and advanced analytics. With a news blog, the post can be as long or short as you want. Do you want to add a video or photos? Go right ahead.
  2. Reporters troll online. When you post to a news blog, it’s simple to disseminate a link to the content over social media. Most reporters love Twitter. Nothing is faster. Advanced search enables you to find the ones you want and follow them. Place them in a list. Engage with them and work toward a phone call or a meeting.  It’s another way to grow your relationship.
  3. Improve your search engine ranking. Fresh, relevant, quality content is one of the keys to a solid SEO strategy, and your company’s news is just that! Most blog content management systems offer plug-ins to help you with SEO, meta descriptions, keywords, tags, and more. Even if your news blog is the second blog on your website, you will increase your chances of getting found on Google.
  4. Allow comments. By encouraging two-way communication, you are providing another opportunity to build relationships with partners, vendors, customers, and the public. Press releases don’t do that. A news blog does. 
  5. Social sharing features. At the top and bottom of each news blog post, you should have icons that allow visitors to share on social media and subscribe. Already allow for RSS subscription? What about email? You want to make it as easy as possible for others to share and subscribe.
  6. Better analytics. It’s hard to beat the analytics available for a blog. Google Analytics are free, as are most services at the freemium level. The costs can rise quickly, however, for larger programs. But you can achieve a remarkable level of understanding for not a lot of money. That allows you to repeat what works and change what doesn’t.

As the news industry continues to shrink, reporters have less time to develop sources than they did in the past. Issuing your announcements over a news blog doesn’t mean that you completely give up the old ways of media relations. For your most important news, post a summary to your blog with a link to the press release. You’ll still need to call up key reporters and bloggers and pitch your news over the phone.  

Need help with your program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

I’m SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC. 

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and government communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, social media and Internet marketing, online video campaigns, website development, analytics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

The squeeze began in late-August. Alarm is spreading.

The communications manager at my congregation, who is also the administrator of its Facebook page, sent me an email this week. She was dismayed that the number of people seeing their Facebook posts had dropped substantially. And she was being asked by Facebook to pay for promoted posts and other ads.

I had seen it, too, because we manage Facebook pages for clients. Most everyone who administers a Page has probably noticed it by now.

Facebook claims it is “free and always will be.” But that’s for individual profiles. It makes no such claim about its more than 42 million Facebook pages.

Whether as part of a long-term business plan or a response to the crisis of its falling stock price—which seems likely–Facebook has decided to try to mine gold from pages.

How It Is Being Done

It’s all in the secret sauce. Facebook operates using a closely-held mathematical algorithm known as EdgeRank that controls who sees your posts and which ones they see. Kind of like Coca-Cola’s secret formula, but in this case, Facebook can tweak the formula whenever it wants.

Facebook appears to have made a change to its algorithm in the second half of August that resulted in a 50% decline in the percentage of posts seen by fans in less than two months.  Fans will still see some posts, but fewer than ever.

Fact is, once people like your page, they often never come back.  And if they do, it was previously estimated that less than 17% of fans ever see the posts of the average Facebook page.

What To Do?

It’s always been true that posts that have had more clicks, likes, comments, and shares are ranked higher by EdgeRank and appear in newsfeeds of more fans. But now it’s become even more competitive.

If you are the manager of a Facebook page, you’ve got to face the fact that your old ways of doing things are no longer going to work. How are you going to be more engaging with your audience? You can always succumb and pay Facebook for a variety of advertising. Facebook promoted posts, sponsored stories, and other ads do work. But even if you’re not a national brand, the dollars can quickly add up. So what’s the alternative? 

Here’s a list to get you thinking. It’s by no means complete.

1)   Photos first: EdgeRank favors photos, as they are most frequently shared. So, if you haven’t done so yet, download Instagram to your smartphone and start clicking away. But don’t post any photo—post photos that relate to your organization and will grab the hearts and minds of your fans so they will like, comment, and share.

2)   Create a caption contest: Add text using ROFLBOT http://wigflip.com/roflbot/ to photos and images. Perhaps start with a photo of a good-natured member of the group then add a question, such as “What Was I Thinking?” Challenge your fans to write a caption. See how many you get. Don’t try only once. Turn it into a weekly caption contest. Send the winner a T-shirt or another prize.

3)   Run a photo contest: Ask your fans to post their best photo to your wall, where they will appear in the “Recent Posts by Others” section. Select the best one each day or week and share it on your wall with a comment that invites a response. Remember this is social media. You don’t want to sanitize everything that you may disagree with, but you can always remove truly offensive posts.

4)   Be provocative: If you’re sharing a link to an article, share something that will cause your fans to react and engage with. It can be anywhere along the continuum of human emotions. And make sure it has an image, too. Why? You know why. Because Facebook’s algorithm favors images.

5)   Post every day: Multiple times a day is better, but that depends upon your organization’s resources and activities.  But whatever number you decide upon, do it consistently with purpose. Use Hootsuite or another tool to schedule your posts. That will free up time to monitor for comments that you may want to reply to or remove.

6)   Go for shares: When you post to your wall, invite your fans to “use the ‘share’ button to tell your friends.” By doing so, you are asking them to place your posts on their wall and into the timeline of their friends. That has the biggest impact for your page.

7)   Ask for comments: Solicit responses by asking questions relevant to your organization’s goals, designed to produce heart-felt responses, and stir up conversation. Comments are powerful but less so than shares.

8)   Post video: Creating video posts has never been easier if you own a smartphone. If you’re stuck in the idea that video demands the expense of a camera crew and professional editing, get past it. A 90-second interview can be shot, uploaded to YouTube or Facebook, and shared in no time. Or shoot and post a quick 15 to 30 second video to ask a question or invite fans to an event. It doesn’t have to be text. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use short, professionally made videos if you have them. Experiment to determine what works. Then sell it in the headline of your post.

9)   Ask your fans for help: Facebook offers a way for people who follow a page to see all of the page’s posts in the Notifications column.  They key word here is people. So ask your human fans for help. You can’t ask other pages.

From a fan’s Facebook profile, the fan should visit the page that they want to receive all posts from. Just hover a cursor over the “Liked√” button. A dropdown menu will appear, with “Get Notifications” unchecked. Simply click on “Get Notifications.” The posts will appear in the Notifcations section of a personal profile. 

   

 

 

 

 

Another tactic is to add favorite pages to an Interest List. 

To do this, ask your fans to visit their personal Facebook profile’s news feed. Click on “Add Interests,” located way, way down at the bottom of the left hand column. Hover your cursor over “Interests.” “More” will appear. Click on it. A new page will appear where you can add new Interest lists or add to ones you’ve already created. You’ll need to remember to click on your Interests lists, but you will see everything your favorite page has posted to their timeline. 

Has Facebook Shot Themselves in the Foot?

Will Facebook squeeze the millions of page owners to the point that they give up? There are a billion people on Planet Earth now on Facebook. How far can that number climb? Can the local businesses and organizations, companies and institutions, brands, artists, public figures, causes and community events just say no?

Unlikely, but not impossible. There’s always Google+. 

Need help with your program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

I’m SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC. 

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and government communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, social media and Internet marketing, online video campaigns, website development, analytics, and training.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

I recently had lunch in Washington, DC with a friend who is a managing partner of an investment advisory firm with some $800 million in assets under management. After the appetizers had been devoured and we were waiting for our main course, the subject of social media in the financial industry came up.

“A couple of years ago, my partners and I met with a marketing consultant,” my lunch partner told me. “She said that social media won’t gain you any new clients, but may help you not to lose them.”

Hmmm. Don’t agree. That may have been true in the past. But no longer.  

Avoiding Break-Ups

Social Media: Engaging Your Clients' DecendantsMy friend and I went on to discuss what investment advisors already know. When the older generation dies and children, sometimes grandchildren, inherit the wealth, there’s usually a change in advisors. The younger generation has few bonds with their parents’ advisor, so they take the money and run.

That’s a big problem for advisory firms that have built their practice with Baby Boomers.

What To Do

How do you prevent that? Kim Dellarocca, global head of segment marketing and practice management for Pershing, LLC, laid out the issue last month in a guest column for Advisor Perspectives.  In this post, I’ll focus on just one of her points: Customize Communications:

Gen X and Gen Y investors are more connected to each other and to information sources than their predecessors. They are especially intrigued by information about how other investors in their peer group are behaving. An advisor who can deliver this intelligence will be able to gain their trust. Advisors should ask these individuals for their preferred method of communication, and take advantage of web-based and mobile platforms.

Let’s say that in another way: you must communicate on their terms.

Communicating Differently

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is one of Wall Street’s savviest investment advisory firms. Its 17,000 advisors are among the most successful in the business.  And, surprisingly enough, MSSB has discovered that advisors in their 50s and 60s are having the most success adding, as part of their overall marketing effort, social media. The reason is that older advisors know how to develop and maintain relationships. That doesn’t mean that younger advisors aren’t participating. They are. But the question is: how do they use social media?

Study, Adapt, Change

I interviewed Lauren Boyman, Director of Digital Strategy-Content & Social Media at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, who told me that even if an advisor thinks their clients are not on social media, they know their children probably are. A high percentage of advisors have come to recognize social media as a low pressure medium that allows them to establish a presence in the minds of younger generations and convey thought-leadership.

Some advisors have a staff member, sometimes even a son or daughter, whose job is to develop an ongoing, engaging presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. Others are more comfortable handling it themselves.

On Twitter, advisors must choose from a pre-approved library of tweets, although they can respond individually without pre-approval and engage in an online conversation using direct messages.

LinkedIn may be the most popular social media platform. In fact, a recent study by Cogent Research appears to bear that out. Just do an advanced search on LinkedIn using the keyword “MSSB” and see how many turn up. Pages and pages and pages of them.

Replies to LinkedIn messages are considered interactive and do not require preapproval. MSSB advisors are participating in LinkedIn groups and using it for business development.

Since MSSB’s social media program was announced in May 2011, Boyman has explained to advisors that social media is just a new way to manage relationships. Of course, there is a thorough training program, a social media policy, and archiving with which all participants must comply.

Beyond the Kids

You’ll have a better chance of not losing out when assets transfer from one generation to the next if you’re known to your clients’  children and grandchildren. To do that, you need to communicate on their terms. Increasingly, that’s on social media. 

 

Need help with your program? Contact us right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, training, and more to a wide range of organizations.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

It took awhile to get there, but you finally achieved it. One or more people in your organization is contributing regularly to the company blog. You’ve put in place a social media and email marketing plan and it seems to be working. Congratulations! You’re done, right? Time to finally take that Caribbean vacation.

blog strategy for businessSorry, not yet.

To complete your overall effort, there are a number of other things you need to do to really make your blog great.  Here are three of them.

Create an editorial calendar

Sounds like something out of the print era, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. An editorial calendar can help you to control your outbound message and build thought leadership. Sure, there will be unanticipated issues that will cause you to go off course. These opportunistic posts are important for you to stay in a conversation and perhaps defend against an attack. So it’s important to build some flexibility into your editorial calendar. But you don’t want the subject of your blog posts always to be dictated by trending stories. As much as possible, you should attempt to set the agenda.

An ed calendar also allows you to consider whether or not that cool idea for a post is really on target. Does it naturally lend itself to your overall strategy and keywords? Does it help your SEO?

One post per day

Unless your company is large with multiple blogs, you should only post to your blog once a day to prevent dilution. You want people to savor your thoughts, not be confused because there are multiple posts from multiple sources from which to choose. Of course, a news event or action by a third party could cause you to rush something out and post it immediately. So stay loose. An editorial calendar will help you to keep your posts properly sequenced. 

Build a contributors page

Blog Strategy for BusinessWho are your bloggers? Do visitors have to search to find out? Make it easier. Establish a separate page just for contributors and link it to each post. Feature it on your website. Each blogger should have a photo. The style of the photo depends upon the style of your company. Whatever that is, put your best foot forward. A photo from the beach taken by your child is rarely a good choice. Next, you need a short bio. Not a resume or three pages from your book, but a paragraph or two. Then, a link to each blogger’s archived posts.

A good blog strategy for business should incorporate these three simple steps. By doing so, you will move closer toward becoming the influential mouthpiece you want to be.

Maybe it is time to take that vacation after all. 

 

Need help with your program? Contact us right now at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, training, and more to a wide range of organizations.

Are you properly protecting your company from Internet criminals? Download our free Amplification Guide on Data Loss Prevention to learn what you can do now.

If you like this blog post, drop us a line on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED.