3 ways for financial professionals to secede from social media hibernationArticle added by Amy McIlwain on March 6, 2012
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

Is there any practice or tradition with your social media that has no pattern of effectiveness and merit, but continues existing because it always has?

Adapted from the 1886 legend, Groundhog Day is a popular tradition that traverses centuries, tying into our past, present and future. The folklore suggests that, on Feb. 2, a groundhog supposedly awakens from a long winter slumber to look for its shadow. If its shadow is non-existent, the creature leaves his burrow, suggesting winter-like weather will soon subside.

However, if he sees his shadow, he’ll retreat to his burrow in preparation for winter to continue for six more weeks.

Despite its mythical nature, our culture continues the tradition each and every year. Can groundhogs really forecast the weather for the subsequent season? Well, according to statistics compiled since 1886, Phil’s winter prognostications have been correct only 39 percent of the time.

So why do we still grant that little creature the power to determine the length of winter? Because it’s what we’ve always done. Why change, right? Groundhog Day is only one of many thriving, yet ineffective traditions and beliefs that we continually acknowledge.

While this celebration may be cute and possess some cultural value, it doesn’t really work. Is there any practice or tradition with your social media that has no pattern of effectiveness and merit, but continues existing because it always has?

In today’s economy, there is little room for outdated, ineffective practices. As a financial professional, how can you steer clear of the groundhogs (so to speak) in your social media practices? Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

First off, am I open to the technological shifts the culture is making? Ever wonder what happens in the social media landscape every 60 seconds? Here’s a quick snapshot:
  • 3 million videos are viewed on YouTube
  • 695,000 status updates are posted on Facebook
  • 98,000 tweets are sent on Twitter
  • 3,700 blogs are published
  • 100 new accounts are established on LinkedIn
That’s a lot of activity (and it’s growing as we speak). If the numbers don’t change your mind, reflect on some of the recent important movements rooted in social media: the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, the Egypt Revolution, or the CNN vs. Kutcher Twitter race.

If your business still operates in the dark ages, you’re not only killing the business’s credibility, you’re also missing out on the largest global conversations.
Am I firing aimlessly on my social media platforms?

Okay, so you’ve adopted social media. Are you maximizing your influence or randomly participating? If you answered yes to the latter, it’s time for an overhaul. To succeed in social media, you must begin with an end in mind.

Here are four steps to ensure success (using examples):
    1. What are my key business objectives and goals? Improve follower engagement; improve customer service.

    2. What are my KPIs (key performance indicators)? Number of likes, retweets, and comments on Facebook and Twitter; response time with social media.

    3. How do I measure metrics? Every 30 days look at audience reach (www.tweetreach.com ); network influence (www.klout.com ), post quality scores (www.edgerank.com ).

    4. What actionable insights am I yielding from the numbers? Followers engage the most with content related to insurance, thus let’s post about insurance one to three times per week.
Am I broadcasting rather than engaging? What’s the first thought that pops into your mind when you hear the word “advertising?” Most likely a one-way message via TV commercials, billboards, print ads, or radio ads.

For decades, consumers have adapted to being pumped with advertising without the chance to respond. Not anymore. Social media has single-handedly shifted the way businesses market and interact with consumers. Instead of a one-way message, the conversation between consumer and business is a dialogue.

Consumers have the power to comment, engage, like, share and blog about virtually anything — including your business. Instead of utilizing the traditional, one-way street mode of communication, begin starting conversations with your consumers. Ask yourself:
  • What’s important to my audience?
  • What does my audience do for a living?
  • What kind of information do they like to read? What news do they want to be informed about?
  • What do they like to do?
  • What unique, useful information can you offer them?
  • Am I conversing with my followers?
What groundhogs (or long-standing, ineffective practices) exist in your social media and business practice? Better yet, what are you doing to recognize and eliminate them?
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