PARTY VENUES: LINKEDIN, FACEBOOK, TWITTER
Just as with any cocktail party, the place you choose to set up your social media groups will color the dynamics of the gathering. Does your party take place at a swank restaurant or in the backyard of a lovely home? One setting is more formal than the other. Likewise, consider the elements of groups on various social platforms.
■ LinkedIn – Groups on this site allow you to build your own community in an environment that attracts professionals like yourself. If you're an advisor, you can basically build your own local chamber of commerce where you're the president; the e-mails you dispatch to group members are five times more likely to be opened than those sent via regular e-mail. You can control who can post in your group. Some group owners are now even selling advertising into their group. Lmkedln offers special ad packages that can build and accelerate group growth. Creating a regional small business owners group allows you to circulate your own articles and posts and build your reputation as an expert; the group can also be used to promote your own workshops and other activities related to your business.
■ Facebook – These groups are very topic-centric and tend to be better for more close-knit relationship building. People on Facebook tend to live on the site, so to speak, so it's more interactive than Lmkedln. You can produce a good Facebook group around your clients. For example, Matson Money, a Cincinnati registered investment advisor (RIA) with $5 billion in assets, created a Facebook presence and a private group for its internal advisors that calls itself the Wolfpack (280 advisors participate in this by-invitation-only group) to discuss issues and share advice. Got a question about the best way to handle the investment needs of a client with SI million in assets? You can get more than a dozen replies quickly. Planning a trip to San Antonio and looking for folks to do a round of golf early? A short post to your own Wolfpack can help set that up. See Figure 29.3.
■ Twitter – Creating lists on Twitter is another way to build social media groups. Many savvy users in the financial industry follow people according to different categories; journalists, firms, conferences, and so on. It's a way of keeping track of who you've met or who you want to meet. You don't even have to build your own list; you can follow other people's lists.
FIGURE 29.3 Matson Money Group on Facebook
For example, financial advisor and national blogger Michael Kitces has a list of financial advisors on Twitter, so it's easy to follow his list and see what those advisors are saying. Remember that lists can be public or private; not all of them will be available for inspection. When you attend a conference, it helps to create a list of attendees and speakers by using the event's hashtag – and then begin engaging with them. It's especially effective if you begin Tweeting with them prior to the conference.
As niche become the name of the game, online communities grow in importance. European-based Unience provides an investor's social network where asset managers such as Fidelity Spain, BBVA, and Bestinver create groups to engage with clients, build their audience, or connect internally with employees. Financial advisors use the platform to engage more efficiently with clients who may be dispersed over a broad geographic range; asset managers use it to get feedback on a new product, engage in an online conversation, or watch live discussions featuring portfolio managers via online video. See Figure 29.4.
FIGURE 29.4 Bestinver's Asset Management Group on the European-Based Unience Platform
BEST PRACTICES WITH GROUPS
With such a broad range of choices on group formation, it helps to keep a few tips in mind before you start:
■ Name It Correctly – One of the biggest mistakes is calling the group by your company name. Only do that for groups of clients. Otherwise, create group names that reflect the topics around which they're built.
■ Open or Closed – Specific groups should serve specific purposes:
Financial firms can create closed groups of financial advisors or portfolio managers at their company when private discussions are valued.
Open groups work around broad topics such as investment, personal finance, or business themes.
■ Consider the Capabilities – Can you control who else can post? Can you share some of the group's content with other social channels or with the public? Does your platform have recordkeeping and other features needed for compliance?
■ Promote and Share – Let the world know about your groups:
■ E-mail links to prospective members inviting them to join.
■ Include the link in content you create and distribute.
Encourage current members to invite others.
If your group is public or you want to recruit new members, be sure both the group and content it generates can be found in search engines. And remember the 80/20 rule – typically 20 percent of group members will account for 80 percent of the activity within the group.