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2 INTRODUCTION The purpose of this guide is to help you develop your social media presence. 42 million*. That s how many people actively use social media in the UK. It s an incredible number and one we believe that will only get bigger. Every day new content is being created, posted and shared. And if your business doesn t have a presence online, what conversations and opportunities are you missing out on? In this guide we ll look at the main social networking services currently used by advisers. From creating content to harnessing hashtags, we ll show you what s possible and how to get started. *Digital in 2017: Northern Europe report by We Are Social & Hootsuite 2

3 Digital definitions The rise of online networking has given some words new meaning. To help you stay part of the conversation, here s some of the more popular terms used in the world of social The at symbol is usually used to tag users and pages into posts on a number of social networks. Bio: On all social media platforms, you can write a short bio or biography to tell the world a little bit about yourself. Take a look at the Twitter bio for our Royal London Intermediary protection business below. Royal London Protection We offer flexible protection plans to help your clients look after themselves and their loved ones. For financial adviser use only. Edinburgh Joined June 2012 Follow: If you find another user or page that you d like to see updates from, you can follow them. You ll then get the opportunity to see anything they post on your news feed. The people who follow the things you re posting are your followers. Handle: This is the name other users will use to identify or find you. It links through to your profile page. For example, our Twitter accounts Hashtag: A hashtag written with a # symbol is used to index keywords or topics on Twitter and Instagram. Like: Most platforms will allow you to show your appreciation for the things other people have posted. While you might find different terms for this on each platform, it s commonly known as a like. Lists: When you re using Facebook or Twitter, lists are a great way for you to segment the people you follow. So if you like to keep tabs on what your business contacts are saying as well as what famous personalities are up to, you can create different lists and view them separately. Comment or reply: When you respond to something someone has posted, it s called a comment or reply. Dashboard: Dashboards contain all the stats about how your social media profile is performing. Direct message: Direct messages, or DMs, are the private side of Twitter. You can use direct messages to have private conversations away from your public timeline. Facebook Insights: When your business Facebook page is up and running, you can use Facebook Insights. It s an analytics platform which lets you see how your page is performing. It ll tell you such things as the number of people who ve looked at your page and liked the things you ve posted. Profile page: All users on any platform will have a profile page. Among other things, it ll include their handle, their bio and a photo. Post: This is a piece of content that s shared on social media. On Twitter, it s also known as a tweet. Retweet: If you see a post (or tweet) on Twitter that you d like to share with your followers, you can retweet it. You can put your own spin on the content, by adding a comment too. Feed or news feed: When you log into any social media platform, you ll get to see a list of the things people you follow have posted. This is typically called your feed or news feed. In most cases it s accessed from the site s homepage once you are logged in. 3

4 Tag: When you tag someone in a post, you re effectively mentioning them in a way that lets them know. To start a tag you normally before their name or handle A menu will then appear for you to select the right person or page. Twitter Analytics: Like Facebook Insights, this is a part of your Twitter account that will give you analytical data about the things you re posting. The platforms All social platforms offer their own unique benefits. Choosing what s best for your business will largely depend on what content you re likely to post and what you re hoping to get from using them. It s perfectly okay to pick and choose which social networks to join. If you re a small business, it might not make sense or be possible, for you to run three or four different accounts at once. And don t be afraid to change your tactics if things don t work out. Persevere until you find a formula that s right for you. Instagram is a popular image-sharing platform. The content shared is understandably highly visual, where users can share photos and videos using a variety of optional creative filters. YouTube is arguably the world s most popular video sharing platform. While most of the content is uploaded by individuals, media corporations are increasingly coming to the party. If you d like to use a few social platforms, or you want some help to post regularly, you might benefit from using a social media management tool to help you schedule your content. There s a few to choose from which can get you started for free search for Hootsuite or Buffer for more information. Understanding each platform s strengths can help you decide if it s right for you so here s a quick overview of the five most popular social networks: Facebook is the world s largest social networking site. From friends you met in high school to the world s largest brands, you can find and engage with almost anyone on Facebook. From images to words and videos to web links, you can share almost anything. Twitter is a micro-blogging news and social platform. With its strict limit of 280 characters, users are forced to sharpen their messages into shorter snippets. LinkedIn is a more employment-oriented social networking service. The site is a well known source for job hunters, industry articles and other professional content. TOP TIP Where possible, it s a good idea to keep the same username, profile photo, and branding across all your social media profiles. Keeping things consistent will make it easier for others to find you and know they re in the right place. 4

5 Getting started Whatever your goal is, connecting with your customers or working to build your online reputation, social networking profiles are the place to be. When people search for your name, your profiles will rank highly in the results. If you have any existing personal social media accounts and you re now looking to start a new one for your business, it might be worthwhile doing a quick search of your name to see if there s anything you wouldn t want your clients to see. If there is, it might be time for a little tidy up. Making the most out of your profile Your biography is essentially your digital business card so take some time to get it right. Tell the world who you are, what you do and what you re all about. If you don t have some basic information how will people know how to connect with you? Check list: Make sure you pick a suitable username (or handle) for your accounts footballdaft65 might say more about your hobbies than your business. Add a link to your website and show your contact details. Reveal some information about your business and your interests that will help people find you. Invest in a really good photo of yourself - something that looks smart and shows your personality. 5

6 Planning your content In the early days of social media, the big driver was to have as many followers or likes as possible - but that s no longer the case. With so much content being posted these days, you need to cut through the noise. That means your content needs to be valuable and engaging. There s no top secret to doing this, but being consistent with your audience goes a long way. Creating a content strategy Having a clear content strategy is a great way to make sure you create, post and share things that will give a real voice to your business and make sure what you re posting is of interest to those who follow you. A good content strategy will help you: save time by knowing exactly what you want to achieve before you start. make sure you re always posting things your followers will expect to see. understand why your social media marketing is working (or not working). Planning as much of your content in advance will help you stay consistent with your audience and will also keep you organised. Often, the simplest way is to align your social media planning with the overall marketing plan for your business. Damaging your brand s reputation is your biggest risk on social media. Sharing or posting things in poor taste can quickly go viral and bring unwanted attention to your business. However, as long as you apply some common sense and make sure anything you post or share adheres to your rules around marketing compliance, you should be fine. Learn more about the FCA guidance around social media on their website. If you don t have a marketing plan, simply take a look at what s coming up in the diary and that might shed light on the things you could create content for. TOP TIP You don t have to post content 50 times a day to be successful. Focus on quality content. 6

7 What to post If you want to be successful using social media, you should probably balance the professional things you post with some more conversational content. You might have more success if you steer clear from pitching your services though if you do, you ll need to make sure it doesn t go against your organisation s compliance processes. A good rule of thumb might be to dedicate 20% of your content to promoting your brand and use the remaining 80% for things that bring value to your audience and keeps them engaged. Keeping an eye on your success Here s an example of some promotional and conversation content Once you ve been posting for a while it s good to measure your activity. Most social networks offer some sort of analytical reporting. This is usually a dashboard of performance, such as Twitter Analytics or Facebook Insights (see our digital definitions for details). You should pay attention to what works well and what your audience is engaging with. This will help you plan and improve your content strategy. The more you know about your online community, the easier it will be to create great content that will get your audience interested. If you re not feeling confident to publish your first tweet, why not sit back and watch what other people are doing? You can learn a lot from your peers and even your competitors. Do a little research on what content is working well on their channels and look at the type of stuff they re posting. This is an easy way to get some inspiration. When should I post? When it comes to timing there s no real formula for success. It all depends on your audience, your location and your content strategy. However, the more you post, the more you ll be able to gauge your success. Try posting a range of content at different times to see how you get on you might find a particular time sees the most action. Once you ve been posting a while, you can use Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics to help you track your trends and refine your posting strategy. 7

8 How to encourage engagement and gain new followers An engaged audience is one who knows, likes and trusts you. We all lead busy lives and, in today s world we re all exposed to hundreds if not thousands of messages every single day. To help you stand out from the crowd, here are some suggestions you might like to try. Promote your social media handles Add your social media details to your signature. It could get you a few easy followers. You could also add this to your business card, headed paper, window decals or any other marketing materials, as well as social media sharing buttons for your website. Use images and video Your eye is much more likely to be drawn to an image than words. Using graphs and charts in your posts could add a little sparkle to your content and help make data more accessible and engaging. It s also a good idea to mix up the content you re posting so add links to YouTube, post some video clips or upload images to help you cut through the noise. Most social platforms these days also have live options where you can share real time video giving you a direct link to your audience. Polls Certain platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, allow you to include a poll in your post. Polls are a great and easy way to interact with your followers. Keep the questions short and sweet and try to only offer a few potential answers. Testimonials Personal stories are very popular on social media. They give credibility, create interaction, and most importantly for business, build loyalty. If you have testimonials or case studies, share them on social media. Competitions Competitions are an easy way to help increase engagement and gain new followers. Every platform has its own set of rules with competitions so you ll need to make sure you don t break them. Hashtags Hashtags were introduced to group conversations together. Today they re everywhere and are an important part of every modern marketing strategy they make posts more meaningful and help other people find your content. Hashtags are also a great way to find like-minded contacts. These days, most events will have a unique hashtag created for the day to let you connect and engage with other delegates. It can be good to strike up a conversation or retweet the content posted by the speakers or other attendees at the event. This is a great way to network. Use hashtags to create a buzz about your events, announcements and brand. Once you tweet your hashtag, you ll notice that it becomes a link. Click on the link to explore other conversations and users talking about the same thing. Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand, industry or target audience. Double check to make sure that a hashtag means what you think it means always search for the hasthtag before you use it. Keep your brand hashtags short, simple and easy to spell. Don t delete posts or ignore posts. Complaints or negative comments should be addressed. By responding you can turn a negative experience into a positive one. Polls can be a powerful tool to build into your content strategy because they let you to gain a deeper understanding of your audience in real time. 8

9 Host or participate in a Twitter chat A Twitter chat is a public conversation around one specific hashtag on the Twitter network. This hashtag lets you follow and take part in the discussion. It s a great way for you connect with like-minded people, promote your brand and get some new followers. Before creating your own Twitter chat, it s a good idea to get involved, or even just follow a few Twitter chats in your industry. This will give you some good insight to what to expect and help you plan your own. Final thoughts Keeping an active presence on social media is pretty easy. All it takes is a few minutes of your time every day. Simply scan for news, prepare your posts and respond to messages and you ll soon see a difference. Making it part of your daily routine will ensure you don t get left behind. Regardless of which social platform you choose, the more you put into it, the more you re likely to get out of it. Royal London Pension - Adviser Royal London Protection - Adviser 9

10 Royal London 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number It provides life assurance and pensions and is a member of the Association of British Insurers. Registered in England and Wales number Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL July 2016