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Building Your Brand With Social Media

 

Bruce Johnson is a social media educator. He's a speaker and advisor. He founded Two Dogs Social, where he works closely with financial professionals, advising them on the power of LinkedIn and other social platforms. He finds them to be efficient for brand-building, retention and acquisition. Today he's going to share some of these insights with us.

 

With respect to social media – I'll give you a little bit of a background on my firm, Two Dogs Social, we've been active within the financial advisor space for the last 12 years serving as an educator on how to leverage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the various platforms. We've probably worked with 20,000 or so advisors during that time. My background prior to that was in the business. I headed up the distribution side of the company and was out selling mutual funds through the various broker dealers. I understand what asset managers are going through and I also understand how difficult it is to get the attention of the advisors.

 

Right now, what the situation is, is that advisors are beginning to adapt to social media. If I can parlay off of what Hibre had to say with respect to websites, think of a website as the hub of your distribution strategy, your messaging strategy, and what becomes the spokes are the LinkedIn platforms, the Facebook platforms, the Twitter platform and there are a few firms out there that are getting into Instagram. Not many, but predominantly it's LinkedIn, where 85 percent of advisors out there are saying that they use that particular platform in order to message their client. If I'm an asset manager, what I'm thinking about is what's the most effective platform for me to get to and get in front of financial advisors out there that are going to be responsible for possibly selling my funds. Obviously LinkedIn is going to be one of those.

 

I think it's interesting to parlay again off of Hibre's comments, last Friday there was a piece put together on Fund Fire and they talked about assets raised by small asset managers out there. And according to Morningstar data, assets raised were up 34 percent for small funds. If you look at the top five funds that they highlight, each one of those funds, or fund families if you will, they leveraged off of what she was talking about – their website. They had current content, they had fresh content, they had fact sheets, they had videos, they related to positioning that they had on CNBC, Wall Street Journal, etcetera. What I would suggest is that now take that and move it over to LinkedIn. And what I see was not only small asset manager firms, but larger firms, they have a tendency to post content. And once they post the content they wait for weeks before they come back.

 

You have to be repetitive. You have to be consistent in your messaging. And if you do, then you're going to begin to capture mindshare from your intended audience out there, which is the advisors. You can suggest to them that they can repurpose your content and there is a way to do that. An idea would be for an asset manager, do you have somebody on your staff that understands the platforms out there that these advisors can leverage? Do you understand Socialware or Hearsay Social, or Rato, FA Social. The various firms are using those tools and they allow their advisors to capture content from the outside world we'll say and bring that in, send it through compliance automatically and have it posted. That is one of the strategies that I would implement because the advisors are looking for content. They're not content to post the content that their firms put out because it's cookie cutter.

 

And if you're in a firm like a Merrill Lynch or Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley where you have thousands of advisors, then guess what? There's going to be some repetition out there in the marketplace. There are a couple of ideas there from that standpoint. The other thing that I thought about is that if you want to determine how active you should be or how active your competition is, think about LinkedIn as a research tool. If you put in asset management, you're going to have 4,260,000 results. If you put in asset manager you're going to have 2,830,000 results. If you put in asset management firm you'll have 515,000 results on LinkedIn. There is competition out there. Now, they're in varying degrees, but if you dig a little deeper you'll find that only a handful of those folks are really actively on a regular basis posting content and promoting their particular products. And some of the examples that you saw from Hibre were actual examples of how you can go about doing that.

 

The other thing that I would do is I would think in terms of what does the advisor do? If your product is on a platform or you have access into a particular broker dealer, how can you help the advisor? And it's interesting because Putnam has done a very nice job over the last ten years of surveying advisors and ascertaining how well they're doing in terms of leveraging social media. And up until this last survey it was pretty weak. But right now you have 55 percent of advisors out there saying that they leverage social media, and by leveraging social media they have been able to garner assets for clients. And the number one platform that they've garnered those assets via is LinkedIn. That’s where you want to be in terms of there. So how do you access that? Well, the access point may be through your wholesalers, it may be through your marketing people that put together Zoom conferences like this, put together presentation and teach the advisors.

 

Why do I suggest that when you think this is such a crowded marketplace where everybody's talking about social media and leveraging it? Having traveled pre-COVID as you will 154 segments 2 years ago, traveling the country, calling on advisors, working with them one-on-one. What I've determined is that 85 percent of advisors out there may be on the platforms. However, about ten percent of the advisors are really leveraging. Take a firm, plug the name of the firm in a LinkedIn, put in financial advisor or private wealth manager or wealth manager and take a look at their profiles and you'll find that they're incomplete, they're inconsistent, there's no posting whatsoever of content, there's no biographical description of what they do, what they can provide for the client. There is an opportunity for a small asset manager to make in roads into some of these broker dealers, be it large, small, whatever. It doesn't matter. They all need the guidance, so it's well worth your time in my estimation to do that.

 

And right now we have worked with several fund families doing just that and so again I can see there's a lot more opportunity out there for people to take advantage of that. With respect to the actual mechanics of getting involved with this, when we work with clients what we do is we establish a few things, like for example what Hibre said. What's your target audience? What's your niche? What's your messaging concept? And I don't think a lot of firms have sat down and thought about that with respect to their social media. If you do that, now you've got yourself some focus on your approach to the marketplace. Now you want to be consistent. What do I mean by consistent? Well, LinkedIn will tell you if you post three times, preferably five times per week, twenty times per month, you will touch sixty percent of your connections.

 

And this is interesting because it works in terms of consistency of messaging. I was on the phone prior to this call with a client this morning and it was a manager of a broker dealer and the manager was having lunch with a prospect. And the prospect said, "I really liked your article on LinkedIn." And the person was stunned because we do that for them. He didn't really realize what the name of the article was or anything like that, but that's one of those things that people – and we're all metric-driven here on this call – what's the AUM, what's the net new assets that we brought in, etcetera, etcetera. Sometimes it's a little bit more less tangible than that where you're building your brand via LinkedIn and you're posting your consistency of posting versus it being tangible.

 

That's not to say that we don't have cases out here where people are using LinkedIn and those folks have raised assets. We worked with one person, and this is kind of another strategy that you can utilize. The world's your oyster, especially now during COVID, because now your reach can be national in nature from Philadelphia, from Washington, DC to the world. You can you really reach a broad audience or you can carve it down into a geographical area if you would like. But the one thing that COVID has done is that they've opened up the entire world to you. We have clients that have reached out, have landed $20 million retirement plans. We have other clients that have said specifically I'm going to zero in on a 100-mile radius of New York City. I'm going to deal with only executives of X level and then tenure of X, and that _____ good. We have one client that's opened up ten accounts over five months of $400,000.00 each, which then they take and they parlay that into additional lending, etcetera, and it becomes a substantial account for them.

 

These are some of the things that you can use to ingratiate yourself to the broker dealers out there in order to get them to consider your particular product. In terms of Twitter and Facebook, I'm a fan of Twitter but I use it as a research tool, where in terms of the research tool I'll go out and use a hashtag and I'll draw down content that I want to use. That’s important. Facebook is the number two platform that advisors want or use. If you're not on Facebook with your particular product then you're not getting in front of that core audience of yours.

 

In terms of – not sure if – let me see if my screen's on here. Yeah, I can share my screen here. Just want to really quickly show you what I'm talking about here. Let's say we're on LinkedIn, and on LinkedIn we're talking about sending out messages. Some of you may have picked up on Tiberian Strategic Advisors. They've just had their summit and this is a piece that we just summarized from an article that was written in one of the trade journals, and the idea here is that I didn't write this article. But I gave people recognition for the article, I did a little lead-in to the article. It didn't have a graphic on it, so what I did was I went out and found a graphic to add to it because the readership of your particular article will be enhanced with adding graphics to it. And what happened was that we began to get – there was 250 views of this particular article. The comment was made earlier that sometimes it's not trade information or information about your fund that's going to resonate out there. It may be something else.

 

We have a client that's in the oil and gas business, sustainable energy is what they're transferring over to now. We post a lot of content about sustainable energy, renewables, it gets nice readership – 400, 500 people read it. We put an article out there for them that was an interview of him and his family from a young president's organization. It has 14,000 views now in 2 weeks. People will read other content, so if you have special interest for the firm that was mentioned about charities, charitable work within the community, that type of thing, post it out there and so you can see we were promoting this particular webinar through LinkedIn. We had some great success. And you'll see in here where why are these hashtags being used – ESG investing, sustainability, boomers.

 

Use these hashtags to enhance the readership of your particular content. If I type in human resources and I add that to my article, what happens? That's pretty dramatic what happens is that I have now expanded my audience by 33,452,000 people. That's the number of people that follow the hashtag human resources. If I push an article out with that hashtag I can sit here in this queue for quite some time. For example, you'd think with 33 million people that this would flow past. Well, not that many people have posted. This was two weeks ago. This was two weeks ago. This was two weeks ago. You can see where you can post something and using these hashtags will enhance your viewership of the article that you post.

 

If you're not here and you need to have what they call a LinkedIn company page. For example, SunStar Strategic has a LinkedIn company page. What does that do for you? Well, what it does is it enhances your ability to send your message out. You post it on your LinkedIn profile, you post it on your LinkedIn company page, and when you're on your LinkedIn company page, if I was in here and I was managing this page for Kathryn, over here on the right-hand side, actually right here in the middle, if I post something I can click "notify all my employees." If I notify all my employees, now they have the ability to repurpose this message, sending it out to their LinkedIn connections. If you have that ability, if your organization is 10 or 12 people, think about that. Maybe they're connected with 1,000 people each. There's an additional 12,000 people that will be looking at your content.

 

Over here in this right-hand side you'll have the ability to invite people to follow your company page. That's a new feature of LinkedIn. You can invite up to 100 per month. It's not unlimited so you can't invite everybody that you are connected to, but you can do 100. And you can see where SunStar has taken this particular webinar that we're doing today and they highlighted the people that are speaking here. And this resulted in some nice activity with respect to this particular conference. Get in the habit of hashtags. Build yourself a company page. Build out your profiles. Don't let your profiles languish and look like they need some work on them. You want to have a complete profile.

 

Just to give you an idea how does this work in terms of – this is a firm that contacted us and ask that we take every one of their executives – there were 16 of their executives – and we build out their LinkedIn profiles for them. And what we do is when we build out the profile we make everything consistent. Why do they want to do that? Because they just completed a half a billion-dollar transaction through Goldman Sachs. But when people came to their profiles, there was consistency throughout the profiles of what each one of the persons did, what they were posting and so on and so forth. You can see where LinkedIn really becomes – it's a real, real terrific tool and leverage point for you. Now we talked about consistency of messaging, then here's where people fall down. And I see it with firms and I see it with individuals. I've got 3,000 connections on LinkedIn. That's terrific. When's the last time you engaged with those people on LinkedIn? When's the last time you sent them a message – a personal message?

 

What we do is we put a program in place where we're consistent. We're consistently inviting people, we're consistent about immediately following up with them and asking them if we could help, introduce them to anybody in a group of first connections. And then from there we begin to drip on them every couple weeks. Take your content and think about it. End of the month, end of the quarter, you're putting in fact sheets, those types of things, who within your list of LinkedIn connections would benefit by receiving that information with a personal note from you. This gets to be granular, it gets to be some heavy lifting because there's no way to, what would you call it, leverage LinkedIn through a bot. There are bots out there that say that you can do it, but what happens with those bots is that you generally are going to get yourself in trouble. I did it one time. I'm 12 years into LinkedIn and I decided I was going to try a bot and I got thrown off of LinkedIn for six months. That’s not a fun thing to do.

 

It is a bit of a hand-to-hand combat, but it is effective because people will begin to reach out to you and talk with you about your particular product. And always, call to action. Drive them to your website. Drive them to your LinkedIn company page. Have them sign up for your next event that you're sponsoring – webinar, that type of thing. LinkedIn is a powerful tool used correctly and used efficiently and used consistently. I guess that's the name of the game. And think of it as a spoke off of that website of yours. This is one of the spokes you use. Facebook's the next one, and then if you want to venture into the Twitter universe, then you can go there as well. But I would suggest LinkedIn becomes your main focus.

 

Q&A

 

Which social media platforms are the most effective for small asset managers trying to reach their target audience, which I assume would be financial advisors?

 And my suggestion would be LinkedIn. And the reason for that is because LinkedIn was the first platform that was approved by all of the firms. So the major firms approved it and then all of a sudden all the smaller firms felt comfortable and they began to adopt it as well. The reason for that, Marilyn, like I'd said, I was in the business and for three years I walked around saying you can't say that. You can't say that, after I left the business. And I tried to talk with folks about leveraging LinkedIn and I felt like it was going to change in distribution. And it took three years for somebody to actually talk with me about it. And the reason was compliance. There was no way to capture your messaging. And then platforms like Socialware were introduced, or Rato was introduced and now there's Hearsay Social, FA, Global Relay – all of those platforms are out there.

 

The place you want to be is LinkedIn and you can go here and you can go alright, LinkedIn has 2,770,000 financial advisors that are actually on LinkedIn with a LinkedIn profile. Whether they know it or not, it goes back to what I said earlier where not a lot of them are active. But those that are, they're out there prospecting on a regular basis. The other thing I would type in up there, Marilyn, would be financial advisor. I would also type in wealth manager and private wealth manager and then begin to carve that audience down, and carve it down geographically, by state, whatever. You've got a lot of latitude with LinkedIn and that might lead to another question is that folks often ask.

 

What do we do with LinkedIn? The free version doesn't seem to be satisfying our needs. How about if we go to the premium, which is the next level up, or should we go to Sales Navigator?

 Here's my recommendation. Bypass the premium. It's very attractive from a cost standpoint. It's $54.95 a month. If you go to Sales Navigator it's $79.95 a month, and you go oh my goodness. The difference is, it could go from free to the premium, you get five extra filters. If you go from the free to Sales Navigator, you have 23 different filters, plus a lot of other capabilities in terms of being able to capture lead lists and things of that nature. It’s well worth it. The other recommendation there would be purchase the month-to-month option versus the annual option because you may find that we just don't have time for this or whatever the case might be, we want to opt out, net-net will save you a few dollars.

 

We've had a LinkedIn page for years, but essentially what we post is just going to ourselves. How can we quickly build connections? Should we purchase them?

 How to quickly build connections would be the way to go versus purchasing. I'm not sure what purchasing connections means on LinkedIn. But if you're on LinkedIn, go to your company page. And on your company page – I wasn't able to show this on SunStar, but this is my company page or our company page for Two Dogs Social. And over here this is where I was talking about, it gives me the ability to invite up to 100 people per month to join me. If somebody joins or follows your company page, then you'll get that credit back. That’s one way to do it. The second way to do it is message people. Marilyn, thanks for being one of my first connections on LinkedIn. I appreciate that. If I can introduce you to somebody that's one of my connections I'm happy to do so. By the way, if you wouldn't mind, here's a link to our company page. Would you mind following us?

 

It's that simple. And you'll pick up people that way that'll start to follow your company. And it's pretty cool is on LinkedIn they're going to tell you we've had some unique visitors here. We've had 51 people, which is up 292 percent. And then you've got some real analytics here that you can go in and check out. I can tell you how the followers are rolling in, and here's who they are. You can actually go in and look at all the followers. Then you can see if your demographics are what you want. They’re following us from Philadelphia, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, we're okay with that. And then you'll also have your competition down here so you can see where you stack up. Again, it goes back to that situation, Marilyn, where this is intense. It's hand-to-hand combat. There's no question about it. There's no easy way on any one of the social media platforms to go I built it and they came. You're going to have to devote some time to it, which is good because not a lot of people want to do that. You’d be one of the few out there doing it.

 

We're not allowed to engage in social media. It's a compliance issue. However, we have considered Google Ad and Ad Words and different display ads in the digital world. How effective would you say that is for a small asset manager, or what can you tell us about ads?

 My druthers would be bypass the ads as a small asset manager, and the reason is because they're very expensive. Think about your key words and write down your key words and go into Google and find out what those key words might cost you. And I know that Jordan, who's my partner, she did a little research and she found that the average Google Ad Words campaign right now, 2020, you should commit $10,000.00 to $12,000.00 per month to get any kind of action off of that. And we looked at some mutual fund companies and we found that some of the larger mutual fund companies – think of Putnam, American Funds, etcetera, etcetera – they're spending $100,000.00 to $150,000.00 per month and more. It’s a very fancy way to go. If you've got that kind of money, hire us. Hire SunStar. They'll do it for you.