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The Politician’s Guide to Social Media: 7 Rules Advisors Should Use

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This post orginally appeared on SEI’s Practically Speaking Blog.

Written by: Amy Sitnick | SEI Practically Speaking

In John Anderson’s recent blog post, he suggested that advisors could take some pointers from presidential candidates and pundits about being prepared and poised.

It got me thinking. Many of you have questions about how to use social media, and if you’re following candidates, there’s a lot you can learn this election cycle about incorporating social media into your marketing mix. 

After all, what’s the main objective of the candidates? To win the hearts and minds of their constituents. Sounds kind of like appealing to a new prospect, doesn’t it? Social media allows you to tell your personal story and reach a broad audience, in a cost-effective way.

Let’s take a walk through what you can learn about social media marketing from the leading candidates.

1. Be where your audience is online.
Back in 2012, President (and candidate) Obama took to Twitter and reddit to host chats with voters.  Since then, many politicians have beefed up their presence on Facebook and Twitter, in particular. This election, we’re seeing broad adoption of social media channels in an effort to access different segments of the voting public – whether that’s women, millennials, or retirees.

Depending on your own niches, you may want to consider having a presence on one or more channels to connect with your own “districts.”

2. Stick to your strategy and apply it to social.
You might think, “It’s just social media,” a frivolous channel not really requiring much thought. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, social media has literally changed U.S. politics, so candidates are wise to take it seriously.

That’s not to say you always have to be serious. You can mix in light-hearted content about where you are and what you’re up to, but it’s a good idea to ground your social media strategy within your firm’s marketing plan by making your firm’s events and public relations efforts take center stage. That means planning ahead of time, creating a content calendar and determining your goals for your presence online first, before you start sharing.

3. Tailor your content to each channel. 
There are all kinds of channels, and one thing is for certain – they are intended for different types of interactions and content. For example, Hillary Clinton’s team posted a photo of her in high school to wish students a happy first day of school on SnapChat, a social messaging app used largely by millennials. However, on Pinterest (an image-based platform), Clinton posts images of inspiring women, family photos and pictures from the campaign trail, some of which link back to her website.

So what can you do? Post personal content about you and your staff to Facebook (namely, pictures), include some “throwbacks” (#ThrowbackThursday #TBT) and inspirational content, such as quotes or videos. You should consider keeping your LinkedIn to strictly professional content about you and your firm.

4. Don’t put an intern in charge.
Just like the candidates do, it’s a great idea to get help executing your marketing efforts. Interns can be an excellent way to do that; they’re often digitally-savvy and hungry for experience. However, their youth and inexperience with industry regulations can cause reputational risk for you and your firm if left unsupervised. Just ask Donald Trump

5. Use social for big announcements.
It’s not uncommon for news to break on Twitter, and that’s certainly evident from many candidates who’ve taken to social media to announce their candidacies (Hilary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, just to name a few). And according to Pew, 35% of people who follow candidates on social media do so because it makes them feel more personally connected to the person or group – a key objective you should adopt, as well.

So maybe you know the value of social media and you’re not quite sure what to say (especially on a channel like Twitter)? Announce your firm news – when you’ve published a blog post or book, or hired a great new addition to your firm. Syndicate your messages across channels (keeping #3 above in mind) and get the news out fast. And what a great channel to communicate when there’s a market drop and you have worried clients wanting your take on what’s happening.

6. Pay attention to what’s being said about you.
Since its social media, it’s not a one-way conversation. Even if you’re not on social media, others may be sharing your content, discussing their positive experiences with your firm (such as talking about attending your client event), or (gulp) sharing a client service nightmare. In most cases, people typically take to the web only when they have really good – or really bad – things to say about something. For many political campaign employees, monitoring sentiment is likely a full-time job.

So how can you monitor what people say about you online? Try setting up Google Alerts to scour the web, actively monitor your Twitter notifications when people @mention your handle, and keep an eye on LinkedIn and Facebook comments.

7. Broaden your reach.
It’s a good idea to track your progress on social media, and one aspect of that is tracking an increase in follower count. For example, Ben Carson appears to have gained the most Twitter followers as a result of the most recent debate.

Why is that important and why should that be on your mind? It’s just more people for you to share your point of view and platform of services with.

Cast your ballot
Whether you love social media (like me!) or not, it isn’t going away. It’s the key platform to watch this election season. Take a pledge now to use social media to create new relationships with clients and prospects.

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