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Nick Bamford: Why you should consider using social media

I was told off by a fellow IFA recently for using the word dinosaur in a pejorative fashion.

What I had said was IFA firms that do not allow their advisers to use social media were dinosaurs. Someone had misread my statement and thought what I had said was that IFAs who do not use social media are dinosaurs.

Frankly, it is about choice, not compulsion. It stimulated a lot of debate on the subject some of it thought through and some of it vitriolic (the usual “trolls”). Some of it slightly ironic because the exchanges that took place were on an IFA social media site!

Social media use by IFAs is complimentary and supplementary, it is not about replacing other more established and traditional marketing methods. It is, however, effective if used as part of an integrated marketing approach.

IFAs who use social media perhaps in conjunction with their website stand a good chance of reaching a wider audience than might be reached by traditional marketing methods. If we agree that marketing is the way that we bring our products and services to the attention of an audience then using different ways to broadcast that message makes real sense.

A simple approach to its use might be to link it closely to the advisers website. For example, regular and suitable blogs posted on a website might well improve search engine optimisation and thus bring you to the attention of a greater number of people.

But why stop there? If you can, then tell the world through social media that you have posted a blog then an even greater number of people might become aware of you.

Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook are all examples of a way in which very many people are communicating with each other these days, so why would IFAs deny themselves the opportunity to be heard in an increasingly noisy world?

Some perceive the compliance regime that might be applied as a barrier to use of social media but the regulator has taken a very sensible view of the use of social media and has stated that it takes a “media neutral” stance

In other words, if I can say to the proverbial “bloke in the pub” that he should read the blog that we have posted on our website, then I can certainly tweet that he should read the blog that we have just posted on our website. In other words, it really is the case that social media is media neutral.

But of course one of the things we know that you shouldnot do when using social media is publish overt sales messages. The community that uses social media is interested in information and guidance it does not want products pushed down its throat. Encourage people to engage with you with good quality information and guidance and pace and lead them and who knows they may well want to become clients.

But some may question if they are the “right kind” of clients? In our experience, the answer is a resounding yes.

If the messages you transmit through social media are the right messages (so no difference here from any other form of marketing) then the people who respond are likely to be the right kind of potential client.

I may well have been a bit harsh with my dinosaur comment but it would be a very brave person indeed who denies the power of the internet in general and social media in particular.

Nick Bamford is executive director of Informed Choice


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Bridget Greenwood 26th September 2012 at 1:52 pm

    You took the words out of my mouth Nick. Social media is a viable marketing arm for advisers to gain new clients among other benefits.

    The more we all turn to our computers as our first port of call to look anything up, the more important social media becomes as part of your marketing.

    It’s a great medium to connect with people, gain referrals, advice and it can even be fun!

  2. So what is there to disagree with and why do folk get so upset? Just so long as you don’t call the thought police at the Ministry of Truth a bunch of flecking plebs….

  3. Social media is a valid method of raising awareness, developing relationships and over time creating brand advocates for your business.
    As stated in the article social media is not a broadcast tool but is a means to communicate with like minded individuals.
    Effective use of social media will enhance a search engine optimisation campaign as social signals are having a greater influence on positions in search engine rankings.
    Those IFA firms that do not have a social media plan in place will lose out to those that embrace the medium to engage brand advocates, drive customer engagement and increase sales.

  4. Lots of people are fascinated by dinosaurs.

  5. I guess for those desperate for business social media may prove a useful tool and as others have said – if that floats your boat……

    But let’s not be under any illusions for many who have looked at it, it really is moron’s territory. I was unsure at fist so canvassed my clients – I only found two with a social network account and they were not exactly acolytes.

    Apart from anything else these sites are fraught with dangers, have too many (to be polite) odd people on them, but as I said if you are happy with them and find that they enhance your bottom line – then good luck to you. But please don’t take the attitude that these are a panacea.

  6. @Harry Katz

    You just used social media to post your comment does that make you a) a moron or b) desperate to make your point or c) odd?

    None of those I guess but hey ho well done for embracing social media

  7. Nick, if you plan to use social media I would avoid words like pejorative !! I doubt that many tweeters (Stephen fry aside) would understand that word.

    Personally I don’t think social media is a viable option, Do you really think that people use facebook to find retirement advice? Yes, there is an audience out there but they hold discussions on whether or not to like someones status updates or to LMAO at amusing photos.

    Embrace technology as a modern, innovative way to communicate and market to your clients but steer clear of social media.

  8. Harry Katz – you realise you are engaging in social media by engaging in this online dialogue right?! By your rationale does that make you a moron or an odd person?! Hahaha

  9. ken170647 youtube 26th September 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Social media is for social life, not business. On the other hand, why not check out ken170647 on YouTube. I’ll let MM know when my first album is ready…

  10. @ Matt

    Give it a try I suspect you will be astonished by the articulate nature of many of the “tweeters”

    I have just been preparing some figures for our board meeting next week examining new enquiries in September and where they have come from.

    27% of them found us by an on-line search which is second only to referrals from existing clients at 34% (search engine optimisation by linking our website to social media sites)

    You may or may not be amazed to learn that they are exactly the kind of clients we want to meet with. Upper end mass market, mass affluent or high net worth individuals with defined requirements which match our proposition exactly. In many respects the complete opposite of the assumed characteristics of social media users.

    It isn’t I agree for everyone (only the open minded need apply :))but don’t dismiss it until you give it a proper go

    @lol I love dinosuars too as does my 4 year old grandson.

  11. Nick is absolutely right that social media is not about forcing products on people. It’s about content and creating dialogue. It is not the preserve of the young or techno savvy, even my 79 year old Mum had a facebook page before me!

    There is though a generational imperative to social media as for many younger potential customers it is the communication tool of choice. Facebook and Twitter are used by many now instead of email.

    I was involved a couple of years ago in a recruitment scheme for graduates, part of which involved each candidate presenting their ideas for a campaign to promote pensions to people under the age of 35. All six candidates presented ideas for campaigns using Facebook.

    This is how they expect to be communicated to. Social media is here and must be taken seriously as a tool in your marketing mix.

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