Each year as spring baseball kicks off, my son is invited to participate in a league tryout to assess his skills in fielding, hitting and catching the ball. His performance determines his placement on a team that usually has players across the spectrum of skill levels, ensuring parity amongst the league. It’s an exercise that he finds puzzling because he knows how to catch, he knows how to throw and he knows how to hit. How could this exercise make any difference in his ability to play the game?
I was reminded of this yearly ritual when it came to reviewing the basic tenets that lead to social business success. Though you and I may be proficient in the skill set necessary to thrive on social media, like my son in baseball, it helps to assess this skill set on a periodic basis to ensure we’re still adding value to our audiences on social networks.
As a refresher, below are ten best practices for financial professionals to improve their social networking presence to help build connections and drive engagement with clients.
1. Be discoverable
When was the last time you used the yellow pages to buy a product or service? The fact is, we’ve all moved onto digital, so lacking a presence online today is now equated to irrelevance in business. Establishing a digital footprint is essential for any financial professional to reflect who they are, who they serve and where they can be found.
2. Be authentic/transparent
People choose to work with you because of who you are–quirks and all. On social media, it is imperative that your profiles and the content you share demonstrate your personality and style. Social networking and sharing should be nothing more than a digital extension of your offline self. If you care about your audience, you will not misrepresent your voice or be anything other than what you are.
3. Listen first
There is a reason why you have two ears and one mouth, and the same applies on social. The gift of social is that it provides a window into the lives and values of those around us who are sharing content and snippets of information about the things they care about. Listen to them, respond when necessary and add new nuggets of brilliance from time to time. You’ll be amazed how much smarter you’ll look in the eyes of others when you speak less and listen more.
4. Be personable
Ask questions and make people feel good. Social is a conversation, and often the very reason people post is to get a response, so give it to them. Although it’s easier to click “like” on a post, write a comment instead. You’ll be amazed at how much more inviting this simple change makes in the engagement you have with your connections.
5. Be consistent
Whether it’s during your morning commute on the bus or train or during the afternoon coffee break, make time for social engagement. All relationships require some tender loving care, and social provides an ideal way to check in with your connections in an easy, scalable way.
6. Respect your audience
Whether social is used for personal or professional use, be sure you add value to the conversation and respect your audience. A good rule of thumb is to share content that will either educate, enrich, engage or entertain.
7. Be creative
Change your profile picture, post song lyrics, ask a question; in other words, mix things up. Social provides you with a creative outlet to share with others and participate in a global social conversation. Could the ice bucket challenge have existed without social?
8. Take risks
Social is a playground that allows us to take calculated risks to connect with others and add value. Try posting at different times or days or sharing different kinds of content, and you’ll be surprised at how different a response these small changes can elicit from your audience.
9. Promote others
The golden rule on social is to help spread the love and promote others as you would yourself. If you like a piece of content posted by someone else, share it! (And give them credit.) If you read a tweet that added value, favorite it and retweet. Social sharing is easy, and people recognize those that amplify their message, so don’t be shy.
10. Measure everything
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and social is no different. There is a direct correlation between activity and results, and it’s reflected in how people engage with you. It also helps you manage the kinds of content you share, when you post, and how you can leverage the use of each platform. Things to measure: conversion rates (calls to action), engagement, and reach.
Did I miss anything? Share your tenets for social business success in the comments!