Blog Entries by Ashley Laurel Wilson, Social Media Analyst, International Data Group

Two Ways to be an Approachable Expert Online

When searching for someone to do my taxes last year, I looked for three things: an expert, someone trustworthy, and someone I could easily approach.

As a financial advisor, you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but it’s helpful for your clients to be able to find and connect with you in multiple ways when they need help. And where do many people spend a lot of their time these days? Online.

Being approachable online is quite simple.

Have multiple ways people can connect with you

With so many social networks nowadays, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be participating on at least one of them. Email is still around, but things like Facebook messaging and tweeting are rampant in both the marketing and customer service sides of business these days.

More than 750 million people are active on Facebook, and the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups, and events. With these statistics, why aren’t you on Facebook? If you create a page, not only will more people see your services, but they will also be on a platform that they are comfortable with, where they can easily reach you. Your page should have information about your services, contact information, and updates at least a few times a week. When writing updates, focus on giving general financial advice, asking questions of your audience, and posting relevant articles from outside sources you respect.

If you want to take it a step further, set up a Twitter account. Twitter gets a bad rap for creating more noise. However, if you use it smartly, you will start to find the benefits. Creating real time conversation is great, especially in a place where you can continue a few conversations at once. Setting up a live chat, where people can tweet financial questions might work to your advantage as establishing yourself as a trusted brand online. And, by creating a regular chat time, around pre-selected topics, you’ll give your audience something to look forward to.

Lastly, comment on others’ blog posts and within LinkedIn groups, always linking back to your website or an online community where you can be reached. This will give your brand more exposure online, and in an unobtrusive way.

It’s important to make yourself as easy to connect with as possible. In the end, social networks simply allow for more real time communication, and in ways with which your audience is already comfortable.

Be authentic

As Victor Gaxiola wrote about in his recent post, “Welcome to Financial Social Media. Be Authentic!”, this is key to helping people connect with you. Speak in a voice that is true to you. If you’re funny, use humor in some of your messaging. If you’re shy, try to push yourself online, but don’t be someone you’re not. Remember to say things in your own words, in a way that is conversational for others to digest.

At the end of the day, you want to connect with others whom you can help. So learn where your audience hangs out online and join in the conversation.

Ashley Laurel Wilson is the social media analyst for IDG’s Strategic Marketing Services team. Within her role, she is involved with conceptualizing and executing social media marketing tactics for custom programs. She oversees the listening and reporting portions of IDG’s Enhanced Community Threading (ECT) service, manages day to day relations with social media vendors, assists with blogger audit and outreach, and assists with tracking performance of rich media ad units. She also acts as an in-house social media advocate, and has trained various business units on how to best use such social sites as LinkedIn and Twitter for business.

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