Over the many years that I've been coaching financial advisors on Marketing Communications strategies, we've continually discussed how building a strong online presence is essential.
10-12 years ago, websites were just "coming of age" and advisors were asking "Do I really need to have a website? None of my clients are online." Today we know that not only do you need to have a website but it must be A GOOD website. People will look you up online and if they see a poor website (or no website), chances are they will move on to another option. Bottom line: you have to have a good website today to be considered a serious business.
Today, with the advent of LinkedIn, Naymz, Ning, Groupsite, Facebook, My Space, Intranets, Wikis, blogs, Twitter (which is essentially "micro-blogging), You Tube, EONs, and thousands of other social media sites ... coupled with the ability to cross-link to "traditional media mentions" such as WSJ, Kiplingers, local newspaper and magazine mentions, TV clips, etc. and audios, videos and/or multi-media presentations you produce on your own ... it's a wild, wide world of possibilities. I hear this common objection from advisors all the time: "Do I really need to do all this stuff? None of my clients are on XYZ (fill in the blank with Twitter, for instance). I predict that in 2-3 years, we will look back and see that participating on several social media sites - in addition to maintaining and populating a good website and blog - and in addition to having numerous "traditional media hits" - will be required to be seen as a viable resource.
Moral of the story: You owe it to yourself to understand your options today and to get ahead of the curve by embracing several online tactics now.
What happens when people "google" (or "bing") you? What do they see? Online reputation management and presence is important. You want scads of cool stuff to show up on the first google / bing page - articles you've had published, quotes in publications, a blog, your Twitter feeds, your LinkedIn page, your profile on FPA's site (or NAPFA, Garrett Network, Paladin Registry, WiserAdvisor, NAIFA, etc.), a You Tube video channel, a book you contributed to or wrote, online news releases, etc.
Here's one other "must": REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS WITH GOOGLE LOCAL AT http://www.google.com/local/add. You want to make sure that if anyone searches for you online, your name comes up!
Using the right keywords and meta tags (and copy in your web content) is also important.
I could go on and on ... but let's see what you all have to say. Everyone please chime in with your best tips and advice by posting your comments on this blog site.
Not only will be learn new ways to improve our online presences, but I'll be sharing some of our collective wisdom at Web 2.0 and Social Media Boot Camp that I'm doing for FPA as a pre-conference offering (right before FPA's national conference in Denver) on Saturday, October 9, 2010.
If any of you want to attend that boot camp session, it will run from 8:30 am - noon (the 3.5 hour long session will include setting up professionally branded blog and twitter pages and populating your blog with both a podcast and a video clip / interview that we'll record there on site, as well as core content). We'll have a lunch break from noon - 1:00. Then I'll be leading an advanced cross-linking and online reputation management class from 1:00-3:00. The main conference kicks off that evening.
Just watch the FPA Bulletins if you want to consider joining me for the Social Media Boot Camp.
Meanwhile, please share your tips and advice on building a strong online presence here.
Marketing Communications and PR Coach