5 Online Reputation Management Tips for Financial Advisors
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Today I want to talk to you about online reputation management.
Wait… don’t go… I promise this won’t bore you or put you to sleep. It’s actually going to be good information that’s critical to not just financial advisors, but almost every business out there.
So stick with me, and I’m going to not only make the case that online reputation management is something that should be on the top of your radar, but give you a few tips about it as well.
I went ahead and looked up the definition of “online reputation management”. Here’s what I got: “the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organization, individual or other entity on the internet.”
In plain English, you want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward online. Because here’s an eye-opening statistic…
According to Forbes, 42% of U.S. adults look someone up before doing business with him or her.
Knowing this little tidbit of information, the question now becomes “what are they finding?” Are they finding good stuff about you? Or are they seeing something that turns them off? Because if they see something they don’t like, it’s probably taking dollars directly out of your pocket.
It’s sad, because you could be putting a LOT of work in - building an email list, making phone calls, running ad campaigns, sending letters, etc. - only to have people drop out of the process because of something they find online.
What’s even sadder is that this could be happening to you without you even knowing it. For example, let’s say you’re a financial advisor who hires a superstar copywriter to work on your direct mail campaign. You get that thing dialed in and you’ve got your star copywriter’s blessing as a real moneymaker. You send it out and wait for the phone to ring… except your response rate is half what you expect it to be… and that causes your campaign to be a loser.
Because when two people receive your letter, one of those people is going to look you up online. If that person finds something negative (which you might not even know about!) then he or she will just forget about you. You won’t get a phone call, an email, or a heads-up. The problem will continue like an undiagnosed disease.
So how can you deal with this? Here are some of my favorite online reputation management tips…
1. Check your online reviews.
Before you do anything, put your name through a search engine. Then your company’s name. Scour the results until you’ve gone farther than you think any lead or prospect will go. That way you know what you’re dealing with.
Then the first place to start is with your online reviews. For example, if I search “Financial Advisor YOUR CITY” in Google, I will get a lot of different results and some of them will have reviews (the gold stars).
What do your reviews look like? According to a Nielsen Trust in Advertising Survey, 66% of global customers indicated they trust online reviews from strangers when making purchasing decisions.
If your prospects search your name online and see some bad reviews, the buck stops there. Which means the buck never gets to your pocket, since all customers really want is information that will help them feel confident in choosing you. Choosing a financial advisor isn’t a decision most people take lightly and, quite frankly, people don’t want to feel stupid for choosing the wrong one.
If you have some negative reviews, don’t stress out too much. It appears that more recent reviews are given more weight by search engines. This is a good thing, because you could improve your business over time and actually deserve the positive reviews. Plus, the more recent the review, the more social proof power it holds.
These are good reasons to set up a system that continually gathers reviews. In addition to that, quantity matters. If one business has 30 reviews with a 4.3 star average and another business has a 5-star rating, but with only one review, which one are you more likely to call?
2. Set up Google Alerts for your name.
Seriously, do this right now.
All you have to do is go to google.com/alerts and enter the search terms you want the Google Alert to track, separated by commas.
This might be a pain in the butt if you have a common name like Williams, Smith, or Brown, but if you add “your name, financial advisor” and the name of your company, that should cover it without a ridiculous amount of unrelated content. Of course, if your name is unique like Kyle Broflovski (yes, I took that from South Park) then you can just enter “Kyle Broflovski”.
You can think of Google Alerts as customized Google searches that delivers specific search results to you, automatically. So if someone writes something about you or your company (or anything you have an alert about), you get a little “ping” in your inbox. I’ve got mine set to send to me once per week and I recommend you do the same.
Oh, and here’s a piece of advice worth thousands of dollars (you’re welcome)... whenever you see someone mention your name or your company name, reach out to that person and ask them to link to your site. By getting these links, your site will rank higher in the search engines.
3. Keep your social media profiles updated.
Many consultants and marketing gurus will tell you that you just HAVE to be on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/Snapchat/Insert Social Media Here.
But if you’re going to be on any social media platform, make sure that you keep it updated. That’s because having an inactive social media presence is actually worse than not having one at all.
Imagine you’re a prospect and you’re looking for a financial advisor. You find some results online and start clicking through some social media profiles. You find a firm whose website you really like and whose advisors you think you would work well with. You click on their Facebook page and you see that the last time they posted something was eleven months ago.
“Are they still in business?” “Why are they so out of touch?” “Will they be able to communicate with me effectively?” “Do they even care about their clients?” “How did the Atlanta Falcons blow a 28-3 lead over the Patriots?”
These are all questions people ask when they land on an abandoned social media profile… okay, maybe not that last one, but still, you should keep them updated. Especially since some of your prospects and clients will prefer to communicate over social media, so be sure to give them every option you have.
4. Make sure relevant content is coming up when prospects search.
This is a crazy powerful tip, so pay attention.
We already know that online reputation management is making sure that good stuff comes up when people search for you. And we also know that whenever you’re conducting any sort of marketing, a large percentage of people are going to search for you anyway.
Well, what if you could not just have good stuff about your name, but create a powerful position that shows prospects how you’re uniquely equipped to help them?
Let’s say you conduct a marketing campaign geared towards physicians. Some of those physicians search you and (hopefully) your website shows up in the search results. They click on your website… and then what? Listen up…
What if they got to your website and saw a boatload of content all about helping physicians? They would see that you’re the real deal and that you’re different from every other financial advisor calling them and stuffing their inbox.
The best part is that this doesn’t feel like marketing at all, even though it totally is. They’re just naturally stumbling across your content that just so happens to be targeted specifically to them. Once that happens, you’ve got an incredibly strong advantage.
5. Don’t get into online arguments.
It’s REALLY hard for me to follow this rule, because I see a lot of stupid people online. Seriously, just because you have a pulse and internet access doesn’t mean that you should say whatever you feel online.
Do you know what one of my friends used to call smartphones? “Grenades”. That’s because the wrong move could cause things to blow up right in your face. Trust me on this one… you never know who’s watching (and I don’t mean Santa Claus).
There’s an old quote by Benjamin Franklin that says “a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” These are words to live by, because even though you might technically be right in an argument, you can’t really “win”.
Instead, you run the risk of looking petty, harsh, or unprofessional. None of these are good for financial advisors.