Being on social media is beneficial for financial advisors for several different reasons. The first is because it can help new clients find you when they type “financial advisor in (your local area)” into Google. It also showcases your expertise, helps you cross-sell products and it makes a good first impression when someone types your name into a search engine and sees the results.
Type your name into Google right now. What do you see? A better question is, do you like what you see? Social media is the best way to control what and how people see you online. Your social media networks show up before any other type of online activity (other than photos) because search engines consider them to be the most active and up to date.
If you have social media channels that you use daily, they should show up in your Google search results before your website. This is why it’s so important to create informative social media profiles that showcase your expertise, connect you with your target audience and share helpful, relevant information—because that's the first thing people see when they find you online.
You may already be on LinkedIn—that’s a great start—but are you using the professional social network to the best of its abilities? Here are seven ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile. (For more, see: Social Media 'Don'ts' for Financial Advisors.)
Make Your Photo and Headline Stand Out
If you have a LinkedIn profile, log in now and go to it, then hit edit profile and click on the blue button that says "View Profile As." This takes you out of edit mode and shows you how others see your profile. At first glance, is it obvious what you do and how you help clients? If not, you need to make some edits.
If you go back to edit mode (profile, edit profile) you can hover over your name, title and location to enter what you want clients to see. This should include a clear, recent photo where you are in business attire and aren’t wearing sunglasses—keep the vacation photos and attire on Facebook. This profile picture should be consistent across all social media networks and your website because it allows clients recognize you instantly.
Include a Summary
A summary is to LinkedIn as an "about page" is to your website. It should tell people who you are, what you do and how you can help them. It doesn’t need to be your life story about loving to fish and being married to your spouse for several decades. It should include your years of experience, the areas you specialize in (subjects and locations) as well as what you do that sets you apart from the other 400 million people on LinkedIn. That’s it—three paragraphs that will make a client want to keep scrolling through your profile to learn more about your experience and contact you for advice. (For related reading, see: Why Social Media is a Necessity for Financial Advisors.)
Use Rich Media to Show Off
A picture says a thousand words and so does rich media. It’s nice to talk about your experience in a summary and write a catchy headline, but isn’t it better to show clients what you’re made of? You can add in rich media with the summary as well as each work experience. Types of rich media include PDFs, photos, website links, videos and presentations.
If you have marketing materials on a unique product, photos of you winning awards, links to your website and media mentions or videos of a milestone in your business, share them with your network. It’s a great way to let people—potential clients—learn more about your services and get to know you.
Add Work Experience With Descriptions
This is such an important section of your LinkedIn profile and probably one of the least utilized. Each job description should have a title, date range, location and description. The title and location should be chosen from the dropdown menu options provided by LinkedIn because that helps link you to people searching for that job title in that area. If your area doesn’t show up, you’ll need to choose the next best thing and explain “working out of (specific city)” in the description.
As an example, the city of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is not listed as an option in LinkedIn locations, so financial advisors will need to choose the next biggest city, which may be Albany or New York City. The exact same behavior is true for your title. Advisors may want to put "owner and financial advisor" as their title, but that doesn’t help them be found in searches. Always start typing your title and choose from the options provided by LinkedIn. You’ll notice that "personal financial advisor" is an option, but that "personal financial planner" is not—it’s just "financial planner." (For related reading, see: Google Essentials for Financial Adviors.)
Include Education and Certifications
It seems like clients are always asking financial advisors for their credentials, so why not show them off? Designations such as being a Certified Financial Planner and having a life insurance license are not available under "education;" they go under "certifications." The education section on your LinkedIn profile is for degrees obtained from a recognized school such as a college or university. Licenses obtained from FINRA should be listed under "certifications."
Another reason why it’s important to always choose from the options provided by LinkedIn is because it helps recommend you to users who have something in common. If I’m a financial planner in New York or I went to school at Columbia University, LinkedIn will recommend my profile to another user if we have things in common. It’s in the "people you may know" and "others also viewed" sections on the right-hand sidebar.
Build Your Profile With all Relevant Sections
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to customize your profile even more. These can be publications, honors and awards, projects and courses. If you scroll to the top of your profile (just under your photo) you’ll see "add a section to your profile." Click here and you can add new (currently unused) sections to your LinkedIn profile.
Even though LinkedIn is a professional social network, you should still add in some personal information such as volunteer experience and interests; these add a personal touch and give your clients something to relate to and may set you apart from other advisors. When you share a common interest, hobby or cause, it’s easier to reach out because that topic can break the ice.
Add Your Contact Info Again
There are two places you can add your contact information, and it’s a good idea to use them both. At the top of your profile under the number of connections you will see "contact info." Fill in this section with your address, phone number, email address, website and other social media networks. It should match your business card and provide potential clients with an easy way to reach out to you.
You can also add the "advice for contacting" section to your profile—just like the other sections mentioned above. This adds your contact information to the bottom of your profile as well.
The Bottom Line
Social media networks, in particular LinkedIn, allow advisors to be more easily reachable for clients. That, of course, is key to being successful online and reaching a broader audience with digital marketing. (For related reading, see: How Advisors Are Leveraging Social Media.)