Independent RIAs often have limited marketing capacity and budgets, so it's vital that every dollar spent on strategic marketing have a positive impact on the business. Luckily, with so many firms in planning mode for 2022, this is a great time of year to professionalize your RIA's marketing with a view to engaging target audiences and capturing specific areas of that engagement as value, preferably in ways that can be measured.
So, let's boil it down to the three main concepts every advisor should be thinking about in terms of strategic marketing.
- Content is king
- Not all content is equal
- Monitor the metrics that matter
Now let's explore these concepts in more detail.
- Content May Be King, But Consistency Is Crucial
This is why leveraging an editorial calendar is so important. Having a consistent social media schedule—and sticking to it—is critical to maintaining a strong digital presence. It's sort of like dollar-cost averaging for marketing. Here though, like instead of reducing the impact of market volatility on lump-sum investing by putting up smaller investment amounts over time, you provide consistent messaging at set intervals, so that, over time, your brand and key messages get embedded in the memories of target audience members, and you're not reliant on "big news" or splashy campaigns to drive public perception.
An editorial calendar has additional benefits, including:
- Keeping track of what's been posted, and what's coming up
- Organizing ancillary messaging—articles, videos, even media appearances—to support social-media messaging and vice versa
- Flexibility to re-arrange editorial timelines for responding to big-picture issues—for example, market volatility or a big uptick in COVID-19 cases
- Analyzing performance. If, for example, you're getting fewer engagements and impressions when you post four times a week than when you posted twice a week, it could be an indication of "audience fatigue," and it may be time to cut back on your posting frequency
In sum, having an editorial calendar allows you to test, learn and refine your social strategy.
In a real-life instance, one Dynasty RIA was posting to social media every day. That is, they came up with new ideas, created supporting content and then rushed to get that approved by in-house stakeholders—and of course compliance. Every day. They were frustrated and starting to see diminishing returns. We worked with them to establish and maintain an editorial calendar. They started seeing results immediately.
- Having pre-set content themes meant less time spent figuring out what to do
- Setting aside time for strategic planning meant less time spent approving the posts
- Tracking their (now less frequent) posts gave them a window on what was performing and what wasn’t
A few months ago, their average engagement rate was 7%. By the end of Aug. 2021, the average engagement rate jumped to 9%, just above the 8% benchmarking average for the Dynasty RIAs.
So, while content certainly has kingly attributes, it rules best in partnership with a thoughtful and consistent approach to frequency.
- Different Types of Content Resonate with Different Audiences
Mainly, the behavior of social media users in response to messaging stems from two factors.
- The content they're interested in
- The medium in which they prefer to consume it
That’s why we recommend examining each social media channel you use and making sure you’re taking advantage of their unique characteristics. Start by considering your own social media behavior. Which platforms do you visit most, and for what kind of content? Do you prefer YouTube for short videos? Are you more likely to read a white paper on LinkedIn than on Facebook?
If you tailor your postings according to your own information-consumption habits as a guide, you may soon see the wisdom of posting different content themes and types on different channels. And even intra-channel, it's important to mix it up. Say you posted a market commentary this week. Next time, post something less hard-edge—maybe something on culture or psychology. Providing variety builds engagement and fights audience fatigue.
Post versions of the same content in different mediums. On LinkedIn, your post may be a standard text with a link to a whitepaper. But on Instagram, you may wish to highlight a central message of the white paper or two with eye-catching graphics rather than fret about download rates. The message is still getting through, but in a way that is appropriate to the channel.
As for determining optimal frequency, we recommend analyzing your real-world results to determine the best days and times to post. That way, you're focused on what works for your RIA instead of nebulous generalities that don't always maximize your impact and extend your organic reach.
- Leveraging the Metrics that Really Matter
So, what numbers actually matter? As this table shows, the most meaningful ones are those that can tell how well the reaction to your posts supports your marketing goals.
Generally, we recommend reviewing KPIs at the first of every month in order to have enough activity and volume. So, on Nov. 1, for example, you'd gather October data for comparison with September’s. It's also good practice to compare the latest full month's KPIs with those of the same month a year prior. Over time, your RIA will recognize patterns of seasonality, and get a better sense of success or failure in particular marketing efforts.
In this light, let’s imagine that a 12-month review of an RIA’s social-media posts shows sustained interest in a particular topic—tax planning, for example. You might use this information as a prompt to go back and make sure previous posts are linked to your other content on tax planning. Then for next year, you might make sure tax-planning posts are suitably linked from the outset.
Indeed, such tweaking may even show the best time to talk about taxes isn’t in Q1 when tax season is in full swing, but a quarter or two before, when there’s still time to make changes on the tax front.
Gordon Abel is Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dynasty Financial Partners.