The key to successfully using social networks to drive your business? Be yourself!
Being authentic online is the most important way to develop relationships and build trust, said Katie Yun, director of social media at Nationwide. Yun presented a webinar for the National Fixed Annuities Association on using social media to create business opportunities.
“Being authentic to yourself and your personal brand is essential to your success on social media,” Yun said. “Don’t think about being what your customers want to see – just be you.”
Your digital identity should be the same as your personal identity, she said. “Authenticity is key. Who you are in person should be the same person you are on your social profile. Don’t try to imitate being an influencer. Be yourself, it will get you a lot further away.
But before you do anything on social media, Yun advised, check your company’s social media policy and make sure you stay compliant.
At its core, social selling is the art of leveraging your social network to find the right leads, build trusting relationships, and ultimately achieve sales goals, Yun said.
Social media has become a major way for advisors to gain new clients and for prospects to find out more about an advisor before deciding to contact them. She provided some statistics:
92% of advisors who use social media for business say it has helped them win new clients.
» Prospects are seven times less likely to call an advisor if they don’t have a complete social media profile.
» 87% of prospects search for advisors on social networks before accepting a first call or appointment.
Advisors have an average asset gain of $1.4 million in one year through social media.
With the social media tools available to counselors, “no one should be making cold calls anymore,” Yun said.
“Sales techniques have changed and so has the sales environment,” she said. LinkedIn is a social media platform that lets you find decision makers and provides you with their information, Yun said.
“The key is to use social media like LinkedIn for research,” she said. “Maybe this person went to the same college you attended. The alumni networks on LinkedIn are huge. Maybe this person lives in a city you’ve been to. Find that commonality that you can use it to your advantage and build trust.
The Social Selling Opportunity
Nearly three-quarters of advisors (78%) who use social media sell better than their peers who don’t, Yun said. But the same percentage of sales professionals also said they didn’t think they were good at social selling. “So there is a gap,” she said.
LinkedIn has created a Social Selling Index that provides a gauge of what someone’s LinkedIn profile looks like and assigns a score based on your profile and engagement on the site. The score has four components:
» How well you establish your professional brand. Is your profile (including your photo) up to date? Have you listed your full employment/professional history? Have you listed your educational background?
» Find the right people. It’s about networking and relationship building. Are you in contact with decision makers from different types of companies?
» Engage with ideas. Are you active on the platform? Do you post information?
” Build relationships. Do you like, comment on, and share other people’s posts?
“Show people that you care about what they share,” Yun advised. “Provide relevant, value-added content that will help others in their business and in their day.”
What is your strategy?
Yun described a 10-step strategy for using social media:
1. Define your audience. Think about your target market. The people you want to reach will play a big role in determining which social media platform you use. Millennials are more likely to use Instagram or TikTok. Generation X is more likely to use Facebook or LinkedIn.
2. Determine your personal brand. Identify the voice, aesthetic, and overall impression you want people to get from your social media presence. Do you want to be more humorous or more serious?
3. Select the appropriate social platform to start; don’t try to master them all right away. Choose the platform that suits you best. Decide how often you want to post; once or twice a week is good to start with.
4. Be compliant. You know what you are and are not allowed to do.
5. Build your network. Think about how you want to do this and what platform you want to use to create this network. Invite your friends and family to like and join you. Send connection requests to current clients.
6. Listen. Pay attention to what people are talking about. Listen to conversations happening on social media and use this information to your advantage.
7. Commit. Be active on the platform. Like, comment and share. Be a source of validation.
8. Be authentic. Being authentic to yourself and your personal brand is essential to success.
9. Prospect. Use social media tools to prospect. Use information found on social media to your advantage.
10. Don’t pitch. Use social media as a relationship building platform. Don’t go overboard with a sales pitch just yet.
‘need to know’ algorithm
Much of the content we see on social media is controlled by algorithms, or what Yun called “the hidden part of social media.” She gave the following advice on how to use algorithms to your advantage:
All social networks prioritize friends and family over professional posts.
The algorithms prioritize posts that receive quick likes and comments.
» Recycling of old content will be removed. If you publish content on multiple platforms, be sure to adapt this content to each platform instead of copying and pasting it from one platform to another.
» Experiment with hashtags.
Native video content dominates all platforms. When you upload the video from your own computer or phone, this content will get the greatest reach or visibility on any social media platform.