Need More Content? Check this out!

FSP Gainfully
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.” 
Lee Odden said this and it’s truer than true. Financial service professionals struggle with content. It seems I hear on the daily:
  1. I can’t find content for my followers.
  2. I don’t have time to write my own content.
  3. I wish all the content was located in one place.
What if I told you this is possible today? What if I told you this was not only possible but also free to use as a financial service professional? Well, let me introduce you to Gainful.ly.

I can’t find content for my followers.

Content is truly king. Without it, you just have a blank webpage, an unfinished eBlast, or an empty blog. Content is what fills up the blank canvas. The problem is, you have to know where to go to find it and in a short amount of time, or you have to have it yourself. Yeesh!
With Gainful.ly – you literally have a one-stop shop for content. The platform is free to use for advisors. Financial professionals literally sign-up in a matter seconds, attach social media accounts and start looking for content to share. It’s really that simple.

I don’t have time to write my own content.

Look, I get it. I write a weekly blog column. This can take anywhere from an hour to three hours depending on how much research I need to do, editing, fact checking, etc. and I’m an experienced writer. What if you’re not? What if sitting down in front of a blank screen freaks you out? Well, look to Gainful.ly to provide you with the necessary content needs.
The platform reminds me of Pinterest. You have a dashboard where you pin articles to send out. I’ve never seen anything on the platform which took more than three clicks (most are two or less!).
Having a resource like Gainful.ly allows advisors to be mindful of their time, which is very important to the thousands I meet with each year. You can produce more content, but you can’t produce more time!

I wish all the content was located in one place.

Gainful.ly has been the easiest of the content platforms for advisors to use….period! The amount of content trusted providers are adding to Gainful.ly grows by the weeks. Since all of the content is searchable, you can find pretty much what you’re looking for all in one place.
Also, the platform has an application for both Android and Apple. This means you can be away from your computer and still find content to share on your social media accounts. So, no excuses, folks! You can do this!
At the very least, what will it hurt for you to sign-up for a free account and try it out? You have everything to GAIN!
If you’re part of a broker-dealer, let me know. I would be happy to introduce your compliance officer to the platform and schedule a demo with the Gainful.ly folks.

Just in case, you’re wondering too….

By the way, I receive ZERO COMPENSATION for making this recommendation, so for anyone out there who thinks I’m being paid to say any of this, nope – nothing – nada – zilch. This recommendation comes straight from my heart to yours to help you amplify your business…that’s just how I roll.
Let me know how it goes – take the platform for a whirl and share your thoughts!
Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!
Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Are you Rockin’ your Twitter content yet?

FSP Rockin Their Twitter Content

I’m saying the scary word…yep…financial service professionals will want to plug their ears while saying, “La la la la la la la la!!!” Are you ready? I’m going there today: TWITTER! Before you completely bow out of the conversation, what if I told you there’s a really cool place you can go to get your Twitter content and you don’t even have to post it – it will do it for you?

Now that I have your attention…

Tweet JukeboxI had heard Tim Fargo’s name for a very long time. If you worked in social media – you would too. He wrote an awesome book back in 2013 called “Alphabet Success“and while promoting the book he figured out what a lot of us already knew in financial services: it takes a long time to schedule tweets! It’s the number one reason I hear financial service professionals avoid Twitter – sheer time! Gah!!

Tim (along with a few others) developed an application out of a need to save time which would post tweets on your behalf. You simply go to http://www.tweetjukebox.com and sign-up for an account to connect your Twitter account, you then select your “jukebox” which plays the type of content you want your followers to see, and then…you kind of set it and forget it.

But wait, there’s more!

I started using this tool right at the end of 2015 and I have to say, it’s been some of the most engaging posts on my Twitter account. I chose their free Quote Jukebox and turned it on. I was not really sure it would make a difference, but it was free – so why not, right? It definitely couldn’t hurt.

I’m three months in to using this platform. My impressions on Twitter have increased, my mentions have increased, the quality of my connections have increased. Basically – my Twitter got better because I’m playing that funky content on my Twitter without spending one single minute of my time doing it. Now THAT is worth talking about!

Taming Twitter

Tim Fargo’s idea which was crafted out of a simple need has literally tamed my Twitter content conundrum. The quality of the TweetJukebox quotes plus the interaction I’m receiving on Twitter (and in case you are wondering, the sentiment has been 100% positive – not a single negative reaction to date) means this tool has value.

The free version includes two jukebox subscriptions, but the paid version is only $13 per month and you can have access to ten jukebox subscriptions – and there is a lot of stuff to choose from, plus – you can add your own jukebox and be a content producer, should you want to go that route.

TweetJukebox allows you a new, funky and fresh way to reach out to your audience without a lot of time and effort on your part. This is very attractive to many of us in financial services and I challenge you to try this tool and let me know how it goes!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Client Attraction: Is it part of your everyday activity?

Financial Professionals Client Attraction

Clients do not arrive at anyone’s door without us attracting them. They don’t. So what do you think attracts clients to work with you and is it an intentional part of your everyday activity? [The operative word being “intentional” in the question.] If you hesitated to answer, then check this out.

First, let’s define the subtle differences in Push Marketing vs. Pull Marketing:

  • Push Marketing is a strategy intended to sell you something outright. You set-up a direct-selling environment to be face-to-face in sales with a client.
  • Pull Marketing is a strategy which involves motivating a client to seek you out of the crowd. You get the client to come to you.

Both push and pull marketing strategies are an important part of a marketing plan for any business. Push marketing, however, seems to be more natural for many of us in financial services to do and today, I’m will share three ways you can be  more intentional in implementing push marketing tactics for client attraction:

Giving Away Value

Free. Zilch. Zip. You simply give value away. Sounds crazy, right? I know some of you are thinking, “Sheryl, giving away my craft doesn’t pay my bills.” Think about it this way though. You’re at the cash register paying for your groceries and your favorite baseball team has a pocket takeaway for you to have a list of all their games right in your wallet. You grab it and go.

…that was pull marketing through giving away value.

What can you give away which would attract people to your business? Could you:

  • …give a class at the local library on debt reduction?
  • …become a JA teacher for a local school and teach kids about finances?
  • …write a weekly column for your local paper about money?

Be intentional about what you plan to give away and make it something of real value to someone. Don’t go into this thinking you’re going to only give half of something away and make them work for the other half, it doesn’t work like this and you’ll be perceived as a jerk. Give away value and you will attract clients to your practice. If you give value away every day, people will have even more reason to do business with you.

Social Media Amplification

You know I have to get social media in this! Salesforce reported 70 percent of brands are increasing their social media spending in 2015. (I’m sure it’s more for 2016!) Today, it’s easier to connect with our clients via social media and make better purchasing decisions.

Any pull strategy requires a highly visible brand and social media helps amplify it. Your clients expect you to entertain and inform them. As mentioned above about giving away value, this is no longer considered “courtesy”, it’s an expectation. Clients also expect to find this value through social media.

Using the local library class as an example, you could:

  • …invite clients to attend the class and bring someone else would benefit from the material by posting this on Facebook and Twitter.
  • …with your class outline create a small graphic with some key points by using a cool tool called Pablo (found at http://www.buffer.com/pablo) and talk about the material with your followers.
  • …connect on LinkedIn to the program director at the library and ask them to share your invite with their community.

Have social media do the legwork for you. It has the ability to amplify far past what you can do by one-by-one. Social media is one-to-many. Leveraging social media is a smart marketing strategy with any push or pull marketing plans and it should be a part of your everyday activity.

Word of Mouth Referrals

This is the holy grail of pull marketing and some of the most effective ways to grow your business. Too often we wait until after the sale to ask for the referral. Instead, when the relationship is full steam ahead and clients are happy, why not ask during the process? You must have a specific process in place too. It might be filling out a form or sending them a question in a survey.

Going back to the giveaway, what if you gave your current client a 30-minute consultation to give to a friend who would benefit from similar services? My trainer, Chris Meier, recently gave me five business cards with one free workout to give to friends. It took me less than 2 hours to give those away. Doing something unexpected goes a long way with clients referring you!

How are you handling birthdays and thank you notes? I tried for one year to send out handwritten notes – I couldn’t do it. I have more than 3,000 connections and it was not feasible. However, I had time to send a thoughtful email or order a Starbucks gift card with a note and send it out. I had a much higher return on those than the handwritten note, which I still send out about 400 per year. When advisors have been referred to me, many have come with the set-up that I’m thoughtful and incredibly thankful for business, which I truly am. I’m intentional in making time for this every single day too.

So what are you willing to do TODAY to attract clients to your business? What new habit are you going to begin working on TODAY to invite new people to learn about your practice? Client attraction must be an intentional part of your day-to-day duties.

Write back and share with me. Any questions, I would love those too!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

 

 

 

 

Pinterest – there’s a right way to use it and a lot of wrong ways

Pinterest for Financial Professionals

Starting the new year off with a little fun, but a big lesson. Pinterest is a social media platform which might be on your marketing list to consider, but only if you have an awesome LinkedIn profile set-up AND the platform fits your demographic group (so it’s perfect for those of you with a woman-based business focus).  Like everything in life, there is a right way to use this platform and many wrong ways. Unfortunately, I see a lot of the wrong ones.

What’s right?

Working in financial services, many of you who are registered reps will probably not be able to use this platform at all. The compliance to monitor Pinterest is not solid yet and if you post something, you all know it must be able to be monitored. For those who can use the platform, it’s a great way to share (or “pin” as they call it on this platform) interesting articles, motivational quotes and even a few pictures of fun things (…er, I might have an entire board devoted to bacon).

  1. Pin content interesting to your followers. If you sell Medicaid Supplement insurance, what does the majority of this group like talking about? This might not only include a board for the MedSupp articles you write or like, but also home improvement projects, tips on frugal shopping and even some recipes. Whatever your audience likes and knows, share content that talks directly to them.
  2. Pin content at least once a week. Your boards need to have consistent content like any other platform. Be sure to pin at least once a week to show up in newsfeeds.
  3. Share your pinned content on another platform. Once you pin an article, share it to your LinkedIn account as an update. Cross-promotion of content is encouraged!

So, what’s wrong?

Remember your boards are a reflection of you and your business. Perception is the reality; whether we like it or not.

  • Make sure your profile picture is appropriate. I recently visited an insurance consultant’s Pinterest board where they are taking a selfie, in the bathroom with bathroom types of things around (if you know what I mean). Yeah, I don’t think so. Try and use the same profile picture you did for LinkedIn instead. The synergy will be useful when you cross-promote your pins to other platforms.
  • Check your content before pinning. If you see another pin on Pinterest you feel would be great to share, be sure and open it and make sure it goes to an actual article. A lot of people are using click-baiting as a marketing tactic (basically posting about one thing and then make you click through to something else unrelated) and this will turn your followers off – big time.
  • Secret boards – learn to use them. I was visiting a financial professional’s Pinterest profile where they had boards about small business, motivational quotes and long-term care insurance. Not too shabby right? Except, they went into the “Creep Zone” when they also had boards titled exotic, her fantasy and dream girls. Pinterest has a feature called, “Secret Boards” – use them! You can pin without your followers seeing. For example, I have a secret board for my New Years Resolutions where I keep all the articles I want to review on getting my house in order, losing weight and cocktails I want to make by the pool this year. I then move pins from my secret boards to my open boards.

Pinterest can be a “pinteresting” platform to use in 2016; make sure you do it right though! If you have questions about this or any other social media need, feel free to contact me with your questions.

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

5 Tips to Organizing your Social Media for 2016

So you’ve decided to add Social Media to your marketing arsenal for 2016 – woo hoo!  I’m so happy to hear this.  You might be wondering, though, “What are some best practices for organizing my social media efforts for 2016?” and I have some great tips for you!  Below you will find five fresh and fabulous ways to organize your social media for 2016:

Calendar Your Efforts

1 – Calender Your Efforts

Seems simple enough – but get a calendar and start to look at all the dates you could talk about financial planning, wealth management, and insurance advice in the coming year.  If you calendar your efforts, you will be much more organized with your thoughts and it won’t seem like social media marketing is this overwhelming task.  For example, have you considered:

Monthly Themes.  February is American Heart Month.  You could go to the American Heart Association website and find LOTS of material to talk about this topic with your audience.  What about October with Breast Cancer Awareness month? The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a wonderful website with lots of material you could share.   This is a great way to repurpose someone else’s content (be sure and give them credit) and provide valuable information and resources about a particular topic.

Events.  What about Super Bowl 50 that is coming up on February 07, 2016?  The 88th Academy Awards is coming on February 28, 2016.  You could talk with your audience about their favorite team or ask them about the movies they’ve watched – are any of them ones you should see?  Starting a real conversation with your audience is a way to engage them and learn more about them as clients.

5760579475_8ebafb35ac_m2 – Graphics

You want to use as many graphics as you can in your social media marketing.  When you use pictures, your potential engagement increases.  However, many people do not know where they can go to get free graphics to use.

I can tell you that using Google as a resource for graphics is a BAD IDEA!  Many of them are copyright protected and we don’t want you to get in any trouble!  My social media buddy, Amy Vernon, published an awesome article in Inc. magazine recently on “7 of the Best Sites for High Quality, Free Stock Photos”.

When you go to the article (click HERE), I can tell you that I personally use Flickr Creative Commons a lot.  Most of the graphics you see in my blogs are from there.  I was excited when Amy published this article (and I shared this with my LinkedIn followers) as she pointed the way to new places I didn’t know about!   Pretty much everything you need, you can find on one of these seven sites.

clock3 – Time.  When are you gonna do this stuff?  Make the time on your calendar to make sure this gets done.  Seems like a no-brainer, I know, but you have to get this stuff done.  Also, who is going to do this stuff too?  I suggest taking 20-30 minutes each week and working on the next week’s material.  If you feel REALLY eager, then work out a couple of weeks in advance.

As you do more of this, you will naturally start thinking about more themes and events and ways you can be creative – -this may take more time too.  Time is an important consideration in doing social media well.  You don’t want to be rushed, but I’m also quick to remind you don’t want to spend too much time doing this either.

Find a good balance, but start with at least 20 minutes each week.

8578688383_3dc6c27224_o4 – Project Management Tool.  You really do need a project management tool to organize everything for a variety of reasons. My favorite for this is Trello.  My top reasons are because:

It’s free.  I love free, don’t you?

It’s collaborative.  You can assign (and rescind) as many people to a board to work on as you need.

It’s accessible.  You can use this from a desktop as easy as you can from a mobile device.

As their website says, “Infinitely flexible.  Incredibly easy to use.  Great mobile apps.  It’s free.”  What more can you ask for, right?

arm wrestling5 – Social Media Management Tool.  You need to manage the social networks and schedule the messaging because you can’t do it all in real time.  The best tools for this are Buffer and Hootsuite.

I’m particularly fond of Buffer as it’s incredibly easy to use for most financial services professionals.  However, you will need to pay for this to schedule more than 10 things out.  I’m on the Awesome Plan and pay $102 per year – – it works great!  Hootsuite has a free version that will be enough for what you need, but its interface is not as user-friendly.  Pick your poison.  It’s not a matter of Buffer and Hootsuite arm wrestling for your business.  Each has their own functionality, but I would still pick Buffer each time to make it easier for you.

Using these five tips to organize your social media will give you a great start for 2016.  If you have any questions, I welcome you to contact me for some help.

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown @BIONICsocialite

What can #FinServ expect in social media marketing for 2016?

Predictions for 2016 Social Media Marketing for Financial Services Professionals

I’m not a fortune-teller and I haven’t met anyone yet who can accurately predict the future.  However, I do watch trends in social media marketing and feel it’s important that I share this information with the financial services markets so we aren’t so far behind!

Social media has been a tough place for our industry.  Whether you want to say it is compliance or the overwhelming nature of data itself, as a community of professionals we must pick a few areas and really go for it…especially in 2016.  You see, it’s getting to the point where catching up is extremely difficult.

I believe 2016 is a make it or break it year for us.

This is the year where we play or get played.

So why not try concentrating on one [or all three] of these areas as part of your business plan for 2016?  If you need help or have questions, please contact me!  I want to see you be successful!

Here are my three big predictions for 2016:

Video Killed the Radio Star in 1979 and still today in 2016.1.  Video Killed the Radio Star in 1979 – – and still is.  You can’t go anywhere online without a video playing.  When Buggles sang the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” they could not have possibly been able to predict how true that would be in 2016.  Some 37 years later and we are using video for damn near everything.

Video has lead to live streaming with tools such as Meerkat and Periscope, but I don’t see the financial services market jumping on that bandwagon quickly (compliance!!) but these tools are invading our everyday space.  Did you see the story of the police who caught the woman who live streamed her drunk driving?  The police (a lot like financial services) didn’t even know what Periscope was and after people called in to report the young woman, they had to figure out how to download the app and find her.  Video is powerful, folks.

Who would have thought YouTube would be considered a dinosaur of video…but it is.  When is the last time you went on Facebook without seeing a video auto-playing? Realize you are competing with videos from big brands too – so make ’em count!

One company in Indiana is doing it right for financial service professionals too.  Covideo in Indianapolis, Indiana has figured out how to make video for email easy and affordable.  You can turn your emails into a tool for face-to-face and just-in-time interactions with your clients.  If you’re a financial services professional and want to use video in 2016, I have an affordable arrangement set-up with Covideo to have access to their Enterprise account at the Premium account price.  Contact me for more information and to get started.

Email - it's not just a fad, I promise!2.  Email – – it’s not just a fad, I promise.  There was a smidge of sarcasm in my lead-in as I remember the days of people who said email would never stick around.  How many of you remember getting your first email address?  AOL?  NetZero?  Yahoo?  Yep – those were the days!

Today, though, email has taken on a different look and feel.  You want your email to be more original, incorporate video (see #1 above) and provide value to the person it’s bugging (and that’s all email is – a disruptor, stop trying to make it something more than it is).  Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media is quoted as reminding that quality projects are a must!  He’s right – we have to up our game!

Send me a sample of an email campaign that you’ve done – I will critique it. You want to build influence with your email, provide help to challenging situations, all the while funneling your audience back to a site where you can convert them.  It’s not an easy task.  If you’re trying to do this as a financial service professional, you might need some help…I’m just saying!

For example, are your emails visually appealing?  Do your emails look different on a desktop vs. a mobile device?  Are you using a quality (yet affordable) email provider to build campaigns that are trackable and provide feedback?  If you want, I can help you dig deeper and better understand this.  Emails should help build the Know-Like-Trust factor.  They shouldn’t be something self-serving and bothersome to your readership.

Content and Context - it's not for the faint of heart!3.  Guess what – content AND context are king!  Content with context is not for the faint of heart.  I recommend those who want to move the needle in 2016 as a thought leader to get real with their audience.  Stop being polite and get to the point of what you want them to know, learn, experience, feel and share.

Content with context lets you take your relationship-building to the next level.  My friend, Neal Schaffer, of Maximize Social Business, says it best, “I am going to be investing more in technology to help me expand relationships that I have created online.”  You can only have the right conversations with the right people when you stop being a robot and start being a human being.

Financial service professionals have mastered the business persona.  We know all the right answers for asset management, wealth creation, income protection, legacy planning, etc.  Those are very important issues, but I guarantee Grumpy Cat is going beat you out every time because the stuff we talk about isn’t fun or funny.  So, how do we change this?  For one, we start being more like Brittney Castro of Financially Wise Women.  She’s not afraid to be as silly as she is serious about money and financial planning.  She has the content WITH the context – – that’s the secret sauce, folks.  (Go follow her too – she’s pretty cool!)

Understanding that consumers are in control now is vitally important.  They pick what they want to see (to a large degree, at least).  They pick what they want to talk about.  They pick what will be shared.  Their expectation is about a relationship, some recognition, and a conversation.  The question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I providing this to my clients?”  If you have to think for more than one second how to answer this, then you’re not doing your job right in marketing your business correctly.  That’s 100% your fault, but in your defense, you’ve never had to spend so much time thinking about this question.  That’s why there are marketing folks out there you need to work with to help you out.

Any questions – let me know how I can help.  Make 2016 your year!  Stop being behind and get out in front of the pack!  You got this!

Be Bigger, Better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown @BIONICsocialite

 

Fake it ’til you make it…really?

Fake It 'Til You Make ItAs some of you know, outside of my social media management work with a very large brokerage general agency in the financial services sector, I’m also the founder of the social media non-profit agency, Social Samaritans.  Social Samaritans, Inc.is simply a group of social media folks across different communities nationwide who work with the un- and underemployed in teaching social networking skills so everyone is leveraged when looking for their next job.

I recently came upon an article written by Jayson Demers of Inc. magazine and repurposed by The Muse about tricking people into thinking you’re more confident than you really are.  I actually had to sit on this for a few days and I find I’m still shaking my head. The daily content shared by The Muse is quite good so this one perplexed me for so long that I’m coming to my followers to see what you think.

The premise of the information is to help those who are not outwardly confident. It would be remiss of me to say this is an article for introverts because I know quite a few of those who have the confidence for certain situations when they are warranted.  It’s aimed at those who struggle with confidence, “… in unfamiliar situations or with unfamiliar people.”.  The overall feel of this content, to tell someone to “Fake it ’til you make it” left me feeling dirty. Yuck!

Oscar WildeWe are surrounded by messages all the time to be yourself.  How about Oscar Wilde reminding you to: Be yourself, everyone else is taken.  I don’t see anywhere in that message to be kind of like everyone else or to fake it ’til you make it, right?

Jim MorrisonJim Morrison, the American songwriter, said to have total freedom in friendship, you must be yourself. I don’t see any messages here about staying still, keeping your hands visible and making eye contact like the article says.  That sounds more like instructions for someone who is about to be arrested than someone applying for a job!

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors, shared the secret to success was to never lie to yourself.  Guess what? Pretending to be someone that you are not is lying to yourself.

We all have a tribe we subscribe to; a community where we belong.  If you’re trying to appear to be one way and in reality you are not, there is going to come a time where someone will flush out your inner pheasant and discover the real you.  So why not make that where you begin instead?

I was recently at a content marketing conference in Cleveland, Ohio where the overarching message was about authenticity and courage.  I think that’s what’s really important here.  If you own who you are and have the courage to show that side of you to others, guess what?  You’re going to be happiest in your own element and the person you are sharing the real you with will appreciate that side far more.

We each have a talent, a treasure, that is uniquely ours.  Please don’t fake it ’til you make it.  I still believe the everyday content at The Muse is quite good and encourage that you sign up for their newsletter, but whether it’s this article or any others telling you to be someone that you are not question if that is what you are really seeking.  Be courageous and choose to be who you really are.

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown @BIONICsocialite