In last week’s blog I focused on the future of virtual meetings, as part of a series on the evolution of the client experience. While I looked at the research and shared some tips and tricks I wasn’t really talking about virtual meetings at all. I was talking about human connection.
Like so many others, the last year has taught me something about connection. It has reminded me that it’s not about whether we are in the same room or even the same country, but about what we are saying and sharing.
Connection is less about the form of communication than it is about the focus, or intent, of communication. As a result, I’ve found connection in virtual meetings, on webinars, in discussion groups and through social media. I believe we are all seeking about ways to connect since we can’t rely on the methods that passed for connection in the past.
If you agree (and I appreciate that isn’t everyone), then I’d suggest this has a practical implication for how we need to evolve our communications strategy going forward. And the most obvious place to start is social media.
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Back in the day (January, 2020 that is) many advisors shared with me that they didn’t use social media a great deal because clients didn’t want to communicate that way.
Humbly, I disagree.
It’s hard for me to imagine that if a client is actively using social media to connect with hundreds of friends, family and relative strangers that they wouldn’t be open to hearing from you as well. Perhaps the real problem is that we’ve been asking the wrong question.
We ask clients if they want to connect with their advisor via social media. Some say ‘yes’ and more say ‘no’. And we assume that we shouldn’t bother with social media.
Asking that question is a little like asking clients if they are interested in receiving emails or telephone calls. No one can answer that question in isolation; it’s all about the information that is being shared.
So instead of asking clients if they want to connect on social media we need to be asking them what topics they are interested in learning about. From there, you might follow up to ask how they prefer to receive that information. Social media is one among many options, including video, articles or webinars.
Full disclosure. It took me some time to figure this out and I’m changing how we recommend advisors ask this kind of question as part of our Client Insights program.
With all of that said, I believe that many advisors will need to re-consider the role of social media as part of their communications strategy in 2021 and beyond. Let’s look at why.
The last 12 months have provided us with an unfiltered view into the lives of colleagues and clients. We’ve invited people into our homes and we’re the better for it because it’s created deeper connection. Social media allows you to extend that invitation and share more of yourself and your family. And that is incredibly compelling, not only for your clients but your prospects.
Taking this path, however, requires a leap toward 'vulnerability' that causes many to run screaming. If you’re on the fence and want to think about this more deeply, it might be time to stop and think about why that’s the case. To help you in your self-reflection, here are a couple of interviews that tackle authenticity – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Clients have indicated a real interest in content that reflects the challenges they are facing right now and those challenges go far beyond the financial. Social media provides you with another way to share meaningful and helpful content on the topics that your clients find most interesting. I shared some insights on those topics in a recent blog.
Even if you choose not to share too much of yourself, social media provides you with a glimpse into the lives of your clients and prospects. At a minimum I believe you should be following those clients who are socially active. It’s there that you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what matters most and that is the basis of any good relationship.
It’s easy to sound a little dinosaur-ish if we dismiss all forms of social media. If your goal is to connect with the next generation, you’ll need to go where they live – and that’s likely to be online.
Clients who provide referrals are about 2.5 times more likely to share content than those who don’t, according to Absolute Engagement's latest investor research. It’s simply easier to 'like' or 'share a post' than to forward an email, so help your clients share anything that you provide. Social media simply makes that easier.
I do understand that there are some potential barriers to using social media.
Despite taking just over 1,000 words to make the case to use social media, I’m not actually suggesting this is a necessary path. I’m simply suggesting that one of the consequences of this pandemic is a need to connect and that social media may support that need with clients. I believe we’ll see a shift over the next year (and I’ll let you know when we do the research if that's true).
Until then, thanks for stopping by,