Despite the fact that social media is now such a huge part of our lives, the majority of financial advisers I speak to have failed to harness the power of social media marketing to grow their businesses.
In most cases, it's not that they don't believe in social media or don't want to use it - it's just that they don't know how to.
So in this article I'm going to explain how IFAs and other financial advisers can use LinkedIn to generate leads from individuals and businesses that are looking for financial advice.
Just like Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest, LinkedIn is a social network. The thing that makes LinkedIn different from the other social media channels is that it has positioned itself as a professional networking platform and has a strong business-to-business (B2B) focus.
Because LinkedIn is known as a B2B social network, some IFAs steer clear of using it due to the fact that they want to work with individuals rather than corporate clients.
But remember, most individuals that you want to have as clients will either own a business or will have a job. And that means they are very likely to be users of LinkedIn.
Therefore LinkedIn still offers lots of opportunities to generate leads, even if you're a financial adviser whose client bank is made up of individuals rather than businesses.
LinkedIn currently boasts 675 million members worldwide, with over 28 million of these being based in the UK. These numbers are still growing, with two new people signing up to LinkedIn every second.
Much like other social media platforms, LinkedIn allows you to make connections with other users of your choice, be it other professionals in your area or with potential clients. And, as noted above, theses two groups are likely to have a big overlap.
You can then keep in touch with these connections by posting engaging content on LinkedIn for others to see, sending direct messages to them, or commenting on posts they have made themselves.
I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet.
LinkedIn refers to the people you are directly connected to as your 1st degree connections.
If someone is not connected to you but is connected to one of your connections (think friend-of-a-friend) then they are a 2nd degree connection.
And if someone is not connected to you, but is connected to one of your 2nd degree connections, then they are a 3rd degree connection.
This model is based on the famous six degrees of separation principle.
Because LinkedIn was built as a business networking site, it has more information about its members' professions, employers, and skills than the other social networks.
This means that LinkedIn is great for when you want to market to people based on their profession or where they work.
For example, suppose you are an IFA specialising in financial planning for doctors. LinkedIn's powerful search facilities will make it easy for you to find all the doctors in your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree network and begin a conversation with them.
Or maybe you want to find local mortgage brokers to partner with.
Either way, LinkedIn's ability to find people based on what they do for a living or what sector they work in means you can concentrate your marketing and networking efforts on a specific niche audience, which enables better results.
Your LinkedIn profile can be thought of as the online version of a traditional CV.
It is your chance to make an impact, show off your skills and detail your experience. This is your opportunity to wow those potential new clients and connections.
Here are some helpful tips for making the most of each section of your LinkedIn profile:
Your headline is what will draw potential clients in when they come across you on LinkedIn, whether they've stumbled across you by accident or actively searched for a financial adviser. It will also give people a first impression of you when you send them a connection request.
Get your headline right and people will be inclined to read on.
Make sure you offer more than just your job title here. The last thing you want is a headline such as Director at The Advice Centre or, worse still, something as uninformative as Head of Sales.
Just because your LinkedIn profile can be thought of as an online CV, that doesn't mean you have to use a headline that's based on your current job title.
Instead you should make sure your headline conveys a powerful marketing message - where the product being marketed is you.
Say what you do to help people, not what you do for a living. Point out the benefits your clients get from working with you as opposed to another financial adviser.
Get creative and maybe detail specifics on how you have helped clients overcome a particular problem in the past.
For inspiration, this is the headline I use on my own profile:
As you can see, I have used a couple of emoticons to make the headline stand out more. And I've said who I work with and what benefits they get from working with me.
Notice also that my headline doesn't mention that I'm a digital marketing consultant. That kind of information can come later.
Not really very exciting, are they?
And here are two examples of financial whose headlines are much better because they highlight the benefits that their service delivers:
And, finally, here are a couple of headlines from financial advisers who are differentiating themselves by focusing on a specific niche, rather than trying to appeal to all of the UK's 28 million LinkedIn members:
Remember that LinkedIn is a site for professionals, not a place for checking out your friends' latest holiday snaps.
With that in mind, aim for a really good quality head shot. Make sure there are no distractions in the background and that you are close enough to the camera and well lit.
If you have the budget, hire a professional to take some photos of you at work in smart dress.
Definitely steer clear of photos with other people present, or a drunken shot of you down the pub on Friday night with your mates.
This section of your LinkedIn profile is where you can really get to shine. It is your chance to summarise the most important points about you and the services you offer.
Be sure to start off with a strong opening sentence. This will encourage potential clients to read on.
Think carefully about what keywords to include in order to increase your chances of showing up in search results to help people find you.
Although similar to a CV, the experience section of your LinkedIn profile doesn't have to include everything that you would put on your classic CV.
When it comes to the experience section, it is wise to only include relevant experience.
There is no need to include the weekend job you had as a 16 year-old. And if you had a different career outside financial services before becoming a financial adviser, you can omit that from your LinkedIn profile too.
In order to build trust, you should be sure to include testimonials (or recommendations as LinkedIn calls them) on your profile.
Those looking for financial advice will be able to look back over your recommendations to see how you have helped clients in the past. This will increase their confidence in you and help them see that you will be able to offer them an excellent service.
To gain a testimonial on LinkedIn you could sit back and wait for them to come. But, however great you are, that's unlikely to happen.
So instead you will need to send a request a previous client, colleague or boss to submit one. You can do this using the "Ask for a recommendation" at the top of the recommendations section of your profile:
In your request message you could simply invite the person to provide you with a testimonial. Or you could send them some choice words and ask them to review and edit.
By suggesting a testimonial to them, this reduces the effort required by your connection, and it enables you to keep the text in focus and in line with what you would like new clients to know about you.
The skills section of your LinkedIn profile allows you to add up to 50 skills in order to impress. You can simply browse LinkedIn's list of suggested skills and add the ones you possess to your profile.
But the really useful part comes when your connections then get the opportunity to validate these skills on your behalf.
For example, you can select ‘Financial Planning’ as a skill, and then your connections will be invited to endorse you for this skill, putting more weight behind it.
A good set of relevant skills, with multiple endorsements, is key to a good profile.
LinkedIn gives each member a profile rating. The highest rating is called All-Star.
By the time you have completed all the sections of your LinkedIn profile in full, you will be well on your way to achieving an All-Star rating.
According to LinkedIn, profiles with an All-Star rating are are 40 times more likely to get contacted through the platform compared to users who are yet to attain that status.
Now that you have an awesome profile, it’s time to start searching for good quality prospects.
As with any social media platform, LinkedIn offers a search facility to help you find potential connections.
Let’s go back to our example of a financial adviser who is offering financial advice for doctors.
Using a keyword search, you can easily find doctors who are present on LinkedIn. You can ask to connect with them to enable you to start your marketing efforts in that niche area.
A useful search tip to bear in mind is that LinkedIn supports Boolean search. By combining your keywords with terms such as ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ you can construct some really specific searches.
For example, you could carry out a search for “finance AND doctors”. Give it a try and see for yourself how useful it can be to really target your searches.
When you ask to make a connection with somebody, it is good practice to personalise your invite.
Instead of just simply sending a blank connection request, let that person know why you want to connect and how you can help them.
You could say something like - “I see that you are a GP, I often post financial planning tips for doctors which I think you may find really useful. It would be great to connect.”
There are some great tools out there that can help with automating the LinkedIn connection process.
The one I use quite often myself is called Dux Soup.
Tools like Dux Soup run in the background, sending out connection requests to people who match your search criteria. This saves you a lot of time compared to sending each invitation manually.
As well as helping to automate invitation messages, Dux Soup can also send a message to your new connection once they have accepted your invitation. You can use a follow up message to highlight a key article to your new connection, or offer them one of your latest lead magnets.
A word of warning though. Don't overdo it with your use of these types of automation tools. If LinkedIn catches you using them it can lead to temporary or permanent suspensions of your LinkedIn account.
As with any social media marketing, you need to keep a consistent presence on LinkedIn so your potential clients don't forget about you.
Be sure to post something on LinkedIn at least once a week.
And be creative. Don’t just stick to simple text. Your posts can also include images, infographics, videos, and links to articles on other websites (yours or other people's).
LinkedIn offers two ways for you to publish content as a financial adviser: posts and articles.
Posts are the most commonly used option. A post will show up in the news feeds of your connections but will have a fairly short lifespan. And the maximum length for a post is 1,300 characters.
LinkedIn also offers you the ability to create articles, to do this you need to click on the ‘write an article’ link underneath the box where you would normally start a post:
Articles differ from standard posts in a number of ways, and have more in common with blog posts.
They feature a large image above your main text. And they give you more control over the formatting of your content. For example, you can add headlines and in-line images.
Articles are good if you want to publish a longer piece of content, as they are not subject to the 1,300 character limit that posts have. They also have more longevity than posts because they stay permanently in your LinkedIn profile.
Click the image below to see an example of a LinkedIn article.
Video seems to be king across most of the social networks at the moment and LinkedIn is no different.
Creating and posting video content is widely known to increase engagement amongst your connections. Although appearing on camera can be a bit scary at first, if you plan and prepare your message, it soon gets easier the more videos you create.
To take the hard work out of creating your video, why not consider using a video creation and editing tool such as Content Samurai. This is the perfect option if you have limited experience of making videos or if you want to remain off camera.
Content Samurai lets you take an existing blog post or article and turn it into a video at the click of a button.
It automatically finds appropriate stock video footage and overlays each frame with a piece of the text from your original article. You can add an automated voiceover or record your own if you prefer.
As an example, here's one of my own LinkedIn posts which includes a video that was created in less than an hour using Content Samurai.
LinkedIn has an algorithm which decides which of your connections will see your posts. The algorithm favours posts which do not try to send people away from LinkedIn to other sites.
So if you want to include a link to your website or blog in a LinkedIn post, then it's recommended to put the link in a comment rather than in the main body of your post.
In order for your posts and other content such as articles to gain momentum and appear in as many people’s feeds as possible, it’s really important that people engage with them within the first hour of you posting.
The more likes and shares that you get within that first hour, the more likely it is that LinkedIn's algorithm will decide to give your post a wide distribution.
One way to boost the engagement your posts get in that vital first hour is to join a LinkedIn Engagement Pod. Pods are small groups of people who collaborate to help each other by liking and commenting on each other's posts as soon as they are published.
Sharing the latest industry news and trends, and commenting on posts from others in your field is another great way to help your connections whilst at the same time demonstrating that you are an IFA who keeps up to date with what's going on in the financial services industry.
If you come across a new article from another financial adviser or from a product provider, you can increase your own exposure by commenting on it to let them know your thoughts on the piece. You can also share it with your own connections.
Potential new clients will love knowing that you have been able to help and support previous clients with the same issues that they are experiencing.
With this in mind, why not share a success story once a month. Or you could create a post with text from a recent client testimonial to boost your trust rating.
Have you had some exciting news? Perhaps you are featuring on a radio show or have been shortlisted for an award? Let people know so that they can see how well you are doing, and feel more confident taking that next step towards working with you themselves.
It always good to remain professional on LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean that you have to talk about work all the time.
Sometimes it's the off-topic posts like this one which get the most engagement because it is easy for people to comment on them.
The above post got 42 comments and around 1,600 views within its first 24 hours. It doesn't matter that it's not directly related to what I do for a living - it still helps to get me noticed and creates awareness of me and my business amongst those connections that I'd like to have as clients.
People buy people, especially when it comes to choosing a financial adviser. So don't be afraid to reveal a little of your personal side on LinkedIn so as current and potential clients can get to know the real you a bit better.
There are tasteful ways to keep connections posted about what’s going on with you and how things are day to day behind the scenes.
Check out this episode of the LinkedInformed podcast to find out more about why it’s a good idea to share a little of your personal side.
Click Play to listen to the podcast
As well as creating your own engaging content, you should really spend time commenting and liking posts of your clients and potential new prospects too.
What better way to build rapport with potential clients than by showing support for their videos, articles and posts?
They will soon notice your positive engagement which should help push you to the forefront of their minds.
LinkedIn has a huge amount of potential as a source of leads for financial advisers and financial planners. You can connect with people who fit your ideal customer persona and then publish content which will help them to get to know, like and trust you.
And you can do all this for free. It just requires some time and effort on your part and a willingness to post and engage with people on a consistent basis.
If you've got a question about using LinkedIn to generate financial adviser leads or if you have a LinkedIn success story you'd like to share, then I'd love to hear from you.
Leave a comment in the box below and I promise to get back to you.
As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.
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