Social media: Think global, act local

By Emily Hutto

ProducersWEB


ProducersWEB contributor Stephen Forman made a point today that I thought was worth blogging about. He says that financial advisors are only concerned with a target audience that resides in the United States.

To give context, Stephen and I have been discussing advisors’ participation, or lack thereof, on Facebook. I brought up that Facebook has about 870 million monthly active users, and he pointed out that only about 150 million of these users live in the U.S. “When discussing any social media,” he says, “it’s probably not as relevant to include the global count.”

He makes a valid point that target audience includes the word target for a reason. In any business, the seller wants to pinpoint consumers who have both interest in and access to the products he or she is selling.

But that’s just selling. And if financial professionals are using social media with the exclusive purpose of generating sales, then I will argue that they are acting more like salesmen than advisors, further perpetuating the stereotype that people who sell insurance are sales vultures. To simply prey on innocent social media users is to misuse the priceless opportunities available via online networking.

Beyond selling, and at the bare minimum, you should be using social media for the following:

Education

The majority of women, members of Gen X with retirement around the corner and novice Gen Yers lack information and confidence needed for planning their financial futures. Social media outlets, like your blog for example, are the ideal place to educate the masses about not only your products, but what’s happening in the industry. Educating others implies establishing yourself as a credible resource. Why wouldn’t you want to appeal to an international audience seeking information from you?

Staying on top of the news

On any social media site, the more international users you’re following, the more varied and thorough your news feeds are going to be. Not to mention that staying on top of international news could be critical to your business. Consider the fact that advisors’ commissions worldwide are vanishing – I’m pretty sure that’s a trend we’d all like to keep up with.

Monitoring consumer opinions and trends

No matter where they are and what they’re doing, consumers are the driving force to advisors’ businesses. Tune in to what they’re talking about.

B2B networking

Almost as important as what consumers are talking about is what other businesses are talking about. Be in the know about what other businesses are doing, even if they are out of the country. Virtual connections might lead you into new business collaborations, or introduce you to cutting-edge practices happening in other parts of the world. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you can look to other businesses across the globe for best practices.

So, if sales and only sales is your goal on social media, stick to the States. But if you’d like to establish your business as an authority in the ever-expanding global financial marketplace, it might be time to practice that new age saying, “Think global, act local.”