The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals

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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

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Social Networking Sites To do or Not to do?

While the investment industry virtually invented the online networking world, security and compliance issues have made it slower to adapt to the alternative social media.  In no other industry do individuals work harder at following the crowd, or top traders.  The meteoric rise of Yahoo stock during the Internet boom showed us the power of online aggregation.

Today, social media such as Twitter and Facebook is quickly eclipsing Yahoo’s online boards, which once reigned as the place where online gossip could make or break a company in a click of a mouse.  Companies quickly learned how to play the online messaging board game with damage control and management of reputations.

Given the high risks, the question is, do you want to play the online social networking game?  Social networks that allow contacts to mirror your trades are among the higher risk services being offered.  An unhappy investor can infect many people in a short amount of time with very little effort.  At the same time, wrong investment advice is more quickly disseminated and it can be a full time job screening who is contributing to your site.  You must choose your social networking vehicles carefully.

Undoubtedly, there are risks and a significant investment of time.  This investment is not without its returns however, and one might ask instead, can you afford not to play?  Leading investment advisors report that they are driving more sales and traffic through social networking than traditional online sites.  Investment services and social networking sites are adding a plethora of new social media tools to enhance the investment experience.  A big plus of setting up your own network is that you have more control over the user experience and what type of people you network with online.

Clearly, you need to have a social media presence.  You just need to focus on how to protect your online reputation and ensure compliance.  The best advice the experts have to offer is to add contacts and accept recommendations only from those you know and trust.  Ensure the forums on your social networking site are well monitored and maintained at a professional level.  Leading networking sites, for example, have recently been maligned for allowing the quality of discussions to deteriorate and for allowing too much infighting.

The competition to be the next Facebook of mutual funds is intense and a lot of new players are emerging.  A number of leading sites have faced their own reputation issues as they have struggled to maintain the quality of information on their sites.

Following the crowd does not always work in the social media world.  These fallen social media darlings are a reminder of how important it is to invest BIG in managing your online reputation.

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Top Ten Ways to Prudently Promote Your Investment Profile Through Social Networking

Social media not only provides an opportunity to promote your investment expertise but it is also provides a forum for a lot of upstarts., the Facebook of stock brokerage, is ranking members based on their stock picking prowess. In other words, your plumber could out-pick you when it comes to buying and trading stocks… and in front of the whole world! It is never too late to start managing your online reputation. Following is some sage advice from investment and social media professionals.

1. Develop tight security standards. It is easy to wander off your company’s broker site and onto one of the many investor social networks that are aggregating millions of investors seeking investment advice and vehicles. Ensure high security standards protect investor information and confidentiality.

2. Use sites that make regulatory compliance easy. Securities regulations apply to social media sites. Your compliance officers should draw up guidelines to ensure your investment professionals comply with investment rules. Some sites are touting their compliance friendly features, including storing all investment interaction for the requisite time period.

3. Provide value-added information. To compete with the zillions of bytes in free investment information on social media sites, ensure your investment analysis adds real value.

4. Your five minutes is a nanosecond on social media. Ensure your blurbs – brief write-ups on you and your company that typically accompany your photo – differentiate you and communicate value.

5. Network wisely. Add contacts you know or are recommended by people you know. If your new buddy prompts one million investors to sell a stock that then breaks out of the bull pen, your credibility is sunk.

6. Avoid too much twittering. Do not inundate your clients with Tweets. The Tweets that you send should add value and be timely. Do not use Twitter to make cold, or even warm, sales calls.

7. Do due diligence on your new friends. Large firms should not hesitate to put a full time due diligence officer on social networks.  Reputation management systems and protocols are essential for effectively using social media.

8. Thoroughly research social media offerings. Social media networks are providing a broad range of services to attract investors. Not all features and functionality will be in your best interest. Services such as rankings, transparent trading and a history of your trades and opinions may be available to your potential clients. If you do not become a “certified” and transparent investor, will you rank low among potential investment advisors?

9. Do not make fast friends on Facebook. Imagine this: I am about to invest in XYZ stock based on your recommendations on a social networking site. First, I Google the company for more information and your mug shot pops up on the Facebook site of the CEO of XYZ company. Your professional recommendation now appears biased. Is XYZ CEO your brother-in-law?

10. Follow the rules: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has provided guidance for securities firms and investors on how to use social networking while remaining compliant. You can access a webinar here.