BUILDING AN ONLINE PRESENCE

Would it surprise you to know that, in today’s digital age, only 53% of advisers use social media to promote their business?

 

Perhaps pre-pandemic this finding, from Paymentshield’s 2021 Adviser Survey, would be somewhat expected of the insurance industry given its long-standing stereotype as ’technologically challenged’ – an unfair cliché, I may add, which the past 18 months have proven untrue.

 

SOCIAL PLUNGE

However, advisers’ reluctance to take the plunge into the worlds of LinkedIn or Twitter is nothing new however, says Aleka Gutzmore – an adviser at Moneysprite and a speaker on our “Building an online presence” panel at our recent “Be GI” conference. Unfortunately, she explained, “there are many misconceptions around social media. That it takes too much time and energy is a big one.” The last two Paymentshield Adviser Surveys back this up, with advisers citing lack of time as one of, if not the biggest reason for sidestepping socials.

 

Nowadays, though, having a digital presence is no longer just an option, as it’s become a fundamental part of modern life: social media has shaped how we communicate with others, learn about what’s going on in the world and research purchases. Many people have improved their digital competencies during lockdowns out of necessity, but even with life returning to normal, the benefits of having a digital presence will remain. This means that by overlooking social media, 47% of advisers are missing out on several, key opportunities to supercharge their business.

 

Aleka set out exactly what these opportunities are: social media can give advisers access to dispersed, global audiences; enable them to engage new and existing clients and therefore improve retention; and provide them with a platform to showcase their business and build profile, influence and trust among their target communities.

 

Indeed, social media and the widespread change in attitude we’ve seen towards it since Covid-19, has made it possible for advisers to both expand and localise their reach. By that, I mean that social media removes location as a barrier to business, but also enables advisers to build local impact. By their nature, advisers play a significant role in building the community they are based in. Participating in those communities by joining online groups and/or keeping up-to-date with local events and news are all valuable ways to boost visibility and set up several potential avenues into clients.

 

In short, social media could be the game-changing strategy that helps advisers’ businesses to flourish post-Covid19. There’s no need to over-complicate it either. Compliance is an issue that often crops up and turns advisers off social media. And “while important to consider, it doesn’t have to be a big headache,” Aleka explained. This is because rather than going down the route of overt promotion that often fail to engage audiences anyway, the most powerful way for advisers to leverage social media is to “showcase their expertise and be informative.”

 

One effective way to do this is by joining local online groups and simply answering the query of someone seeking financial support, pointing out the benefits of professional advice and letting them know you can help. Aleka explains – “it’s just like walking into a pub and sitting down for a chat.” “Advisers should be focusing on inviting people to speak to them and ask questions, because we’re the experts who know the intricacies and have the knowledge to hand.”

 

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

Ultimately, it comes back to the power of conversation – a topic we continue to strongly champion at Paymentshield. Through a combination of industry-wide knowledge-sharing and technological support like our Adviser Hub, we’ve been trying to empower advisers to feel confident about initiating client conversations, particularly around GI. That personal touch will always win out, and in the case of social media it’s clear to me that personality trumps self-promotion every time. Whether it’s sharing case studies, blogs, announcements or videos, people want to get to know the individual, not the business. As Aleka perfectly puts it, “advisers should see social media as an extension of themselves.”

 

It’s about starting small, whether it be by updating information or connecting with other industry professionals, and then scaling up until it becomes a habit. Beyond the first hurdle of starting, Aleka explained it’s a question of “having fun with it and embracing being social." On a positive note, there are starting signs of a social media uptake among advisers already, with two-thirds of those Paymentshield surveyed declaring they’d upped their social media use for promotional reasons since Covid-19.

                                                                                                        

Advisers have shown an admirable ability to adapt over the past year and a half, with most being forced to digitalise their entire business model, rethink their sales strategies and build client relationships virtually rather than in-person. Social media is another string that advisers can add to their bow to maintain this momentum, make themselves and the service they offer more visible and in turn, see their business grow.

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