In the era of selfies and corporate tweets, it’s easy to see social media as the ultimate form of self-promotion and marketing. But it’s also an invaluable research tool to learn more about your clients and prospects. Following your clients and prospects on social media gives you more data to serve them and positions you to be introduced to their friends.
What can you learn from following and interacting with your clients on social media?
- Their family situation—and big changes in their life.
The more you know about the clients you serve – and their families – the better advice you can give them. Knowing your client’s family situation means you know when big events are coming up such as weddings or births of grandchildren. You know of travel plans—and even about deaths in the family.
Spending 10-15 minutes per day monitoring clients on social media (or having an assistant do this) can alert you to things you wouldn’t know otherwise, if you’re meeting just quarterly with your best clients. Sometimes clients will not phone you with even big changes happening in their life.
By monitoring social media, you won’t be caught off guard. And you can make notes of things to ask them about in the next review meeting.
- Their communication preferences.
Some of your clients are technophobes. Others embrace social media and other newer forms of communication. Knowing their communication preferences obviously helps you communicate better with them. Doug, a wholesaler I know, consistently tracks three pieces of data: how his financial advisor customers like to communicate, what they like to communicate about, and how often they like to be communicated with.
Social media alerts you to how often your clients are on Facebook or Twitter. It gives you a window into their communication habits. This is helpful because if you’re trying to reach your clients with blog posts and social media links but they’re not on social media – you’ll need to devise an alternative means of communicating.
Knowing and tracking your best customers’ preferences helps you tailor the communication experience for them – and not waste their time or your own.
- Advice needs.
Buying signals abound in the social media world. Just as a sales clerk in a brick and mortar store pays close attention to a potential customer’s body language and what items they’re viewing, social media can track what your clients are interested in. Think of how Amazon seamlessly recommends other products based on previous purchases.
For instance, if they post ten times a day about animal shelters, and they have a sizeable account, maybe you could help them with a donor-advised trust to an area shelter. Likewise if they post a lot about events at their alma mater, you might ask them about their charitable goals related to funding education.
- Their social networks.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated reason to monitor a clients’ social media account is to get a better idea of their social networks. Whom do they know? This can be especially valuable on a network like LinkedIn where people connect with colleagues and other professionals.
By knowing who your clients know, you can start to research potential introductions. I know an advisor in Virginia who used this approach regularly. He started with family members, then co-workers, then social connections.
He would then start researching the individuals his clients knew, to see if there might be a good fit as potential clients. And then he’d ask his clients for introductions.
When you use social media to research potential clients, instead of starting from scratch with a customer – going in blind – you can research their digital footprint beforehand.
5. Their click habits.
Social media is just the first step in transforming your business with data:
Do you know which articles your clients read and like on social media or on your website? Do you know if they’ve asked questions about your products or commented on your company’s website? Have they downloaded any of your white papers? Do you know which features of your products they’re most interested in based on their online activity?
All these data points can help you develop a customized profile for each of your clients– so you can better connect with a client at the right time, with the right solution—tailored to your clients’ needs.