Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Are you using social media wisely?

August 17, 2015

The question isn’t “Are you using social media?” You’re on top of that, or you’re about to start. The question is “Are you using social media wisely?”

Social Media may be the most human tool ever devised. We’re social by our nature; we always want to be talking, meeting, sharing, and we always seek out community. Unlike a TV Commercial or an ad in the paper, you have the opportunity to get to know your intended audience before posting. Knowing their passions, their concerns, and their everyday lives will inform you about what to share.

As I see it, your job is to start a conversation and keep it going. This doesn’t mean responding to every post. Don’t just talk. Listen. Monitor. Pay attention. If someone posts about a new child or a grandchild, this gives you the information that this person may be thinking about starting a savings plan for college. If someone reaches a particular milestone birthday, that may be an indication that it’s time to have a conversation about their retirement savings, or maybe even legacy planning.

Here are some tips for using each of the three main Social Media Platforms:

• Twitter: 140 characters may seem like too little to communicate, but use that space wisely; link to relevant or interesting articles. If you keep a blog, link to that. Your followers will decide what they want to read, based on their own lives and interests.

• Facebook: More intimate than Twitter, Facebook is less like the town square and more like being invited into someone’s living room. If you are fortunate enough to be “friended,” be sure to balance information with some personal stuff. Nothing too personal. But pictures from a recent family vacation or outing allows contacts to see you as a neighbor.

• LinkedIn: The late night guys love joking about ignoring LinkedIn requests, but it’s your way of communicating with other professionals. People who are not necessarily in your field are there, so be sure to put your best foot forward and take part.

Keep in mind: These are just the big three today. Keep an eye on sites like Tumblr, Instagram, and others that are still developing a following. If you see a way to reach out on these sites, and your Broker/Dealers say yes, take the plunge! The main rule is staying firmly on the line between being professional, yet interesting.

Part of your presence in any social network should include interesting and topical articles and news items; if you are a doing things on your own, or have an assistant with other pressing duties, finding interesting items can feel like a full-time job. This is doubled when you factor that many people working in financial fields must have all items, even social media posts, approved by compliance departments.

While brevity is the soul of wit, you needn’t leave any tricks in your bag. Anyone who has spent any time on social media knows the power of images. Think in terms of how you can convey a message in ways that are visually interesting. Information Graphics or Infographics are image files that illustrate a complicated idea, such as significant financial changes, pie charts, and graphs. They can also be used to share pertinent quotes from recent news stories, or words of advice from experts.

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Password Managers

July 20, 2015

In working on Marketing.Pro’s newest LinkedIn campaign feature, we’ve discovered that more than 60% of the subscribers in the group didn’t have their own login information. It’s a common problem, and not surprising when you consider that the best security practice is to have complicated passwords for each and every website or application. In June of this year, PC Magazine noted “The only way to keep your secure website logins safe is to use a strong password for each and never use the same one twice. And the only way to manage that task is to use a password manager.”1

Now, it’s true that you could keep track of them on paper, but there’s no getting around how insecure that is… not to mention inconvenient, if you happen to lose the paper. Having the same password for everything is a bad idea; if a hacker figures out one, he’s figured out all of them.

Password managers are secure and take all of the thinking and memory out of maintaining all of your passwords. Many can fill forms and even generate passwords for you, for extra security. They have the potential to save you and your staff hours of frustration, and keep your business’ vital information out of harm’s way.

In doing some research for this piece, I came across two great articles on password managers, outlining different brands and their benefits, differences, and prices. The first one I want to share is the article that produced that great quote above, from Neil J. Rubenking at PC Magazine.

The other piece comes from Alan Henry at Life Hacker, providing the 5 best password managers, as chosen by Life Hacker readers earlier this year.

The three brands mentioned in both articles are Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm, but take the time to inform your own decision; passwords are a reality of doing business using modern technology, so staying state-of-art with your security is one of the most serious decisions you can make!

Bottom line … Make the commitment now to keep your passwords in a safe, centralized location, and ALWAYS have access to them at a moment’s notice. This could save both you and your staff hours of frustration and wasted time in the future.

1 – http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp [6/2/15]

Can Your Personal Facebook Account Be Effective for Business?

June 15, 2015

The short answer is a resounding “Yes.” People have used their personal, non-professional social media accounts to leverage a business advantage for years, even in the relatively stone-age days of Friendster and MySpace. So, if your Broker/Dealer is one of the many that have forbidden the use of Facebook for professional purposes, there may be circumstances under which you can still make your social media time productive without breaking the rules.

If you go this route, do your homework! Ask for your Broker/Dealer’s guidelines for Social Media Privacy and make sure you toe the line. For example, you’re probably going to be asked to keep a great deal of your professional information off of your personal profile. That may mean you can’t share the name of your company or Broker/Dealer, nor your profession or your contact information.

Thankfully, Facebook is designed more for personal communication rather than the professional, anyway. In other words, it’s less about “work” and more about “life.” You can share about your family, friends, travels, and other personal interests.

Obviously, you should use your discretion; common sense, regardless of your profession. This means avoiding religious or political matters, unless you are targeting that market. Inappropriate jokes are a big “No.” And don’t overwhelm people with your posting; if you’re averaging more than 3 posts in a 24 hour period, you might want to save something for the next time.

Most of all, keep it A.P.E. – Actionable, Pertinent, and Educational. This is simply good communication, but especially vital on social media; if you’re going to be boring, irrelevant, and pointless, why bother?

When you “friend” clients and prospects, keep in mind that you are using it to nurture relationships, more than develop business. Facebook is as much about “listening” as it is “broadcasting.” These people will be sharing about changes in their lives, both good and bad. This is valuable information and will assist you in cultivating relationships and nurturing prospects.

Social media is the most vital medium so far in the 21st Century. It touches every part of our lives in the way that only a new and vital technology can. We spend so much of our time there!  Make that time productive by discovering prospects and turning good clients into great clients.

The Art of the “Kaffeeklatsch”

April 20, 2015

In the original German, “kaffeeklatsch” means “to gossip over coffee.” In the American context, it can mean any informal social gathering where there is both coffee and conversation. It’s also a helpful tool for any professional looking to expand their contacts.

Here are some tips for making the kaffeeklatsch a success…

  • Choose a local business as opposed to a well-known chain.
  • Post your gathering on Meetup.com. Make a point of joining other gatherings as well.
  • Don’t worry if you’re in a smaller area: A small classified ad still works, as do community bulletin boards, which can be found in community centers, libraries, grocery stores, and places of worship.
  • If “kaffeeklatsch” sounds too frightening, you don’t have to use the word… “Coffee Club” works just fine. “Dessert Club” sounds even better, if your budget extends to a few slices of pie.
  • While you can pick up the tab, there isn’t necessarily an obligation to do so; traditionally, the kaffeeklatsch is Dutch treat. Use your best judgment there.

Getting to know the people in your area is among the best of best practices; the insights you gain may serve you for years, all for the price of a cup of coffee.

Using Social Media in Troubled Times

March 10, 2015

Social Media is now a primary resource for information and communication. Most of us scroll through Twitter or Facebook all through the day. As a professional, though, how do you interact with the public when the topic on everyone’s lips is troubling or incredibly sad? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind…

Learn when to stay out of it. If people are having an intense public debate on a particular issue, common sense dictates that a professional has no place in that discussion, unless it has a direct and specific effect on his business.

A somber moment. What about when something unambiguously tragic happens? As a member of your community, it’s a good instinct to post a simple one-line expression.

In the moment. What if you are caught in the middle of an ongoing event? You’ll want to keep it simple; let folks know if everyone in your office is all right, and any changes to your business hours.

Work/Life Balance. Consider keeping a separate online presence for personal observations and interactions. Not everyone can strike that balance, though.

Social Media isn’t all-purpose. Greeting cards remain the best way to make these connections. A service like Marketing.Pro can take all of the busy work out of sending cards; they have a wide variety for a number of occasions.

Peter Montoya’s office seems pretty normal. Then the Pirate shows up.

February 19, 2015

Your Facebook profile can outlive you

February 13, 2015

As social media became a major hub for contact around the world, an unforeseen situation came to light. What way, if any, was appropriate to memorialize a social media user who had passed away? Who should decide? Facebook’s latest answer to this came this week in the form of their new “Legacy Contact” policy.

A Legacy Contact is another Facebook user whom you can select, in advance, to “look after” your memorialized account in the event of your death. While they cannot log in to your account, remove or change items you’ve shared, read your messages, or remove friends, they are able to write a post pinned to your profile (a final message or other information for mourners), update your profile picture and cover photo, and respond to new friend requests.

Crucially, the Legacy Contact will be able to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, including posts and photos, a sort of digital journal of your thoughts and life on Social Media. I’m sure you can imagine how nice something like that would be for families and loved ones, not to mention being of interest to future generations.

Facebook has indicated that this new feature will likely change over time.

If, like me, you’re a Facebook user and interested in having a spouse, family member, or trusted friend assigned as your Legacy Contact, you may want to read more about the feature here.

Trust Me.

February 10, 2015

Every field benefits from establishing trust between the professional and the person (or people) to whom they provide service. This is especially true for Financial Professionals.

In October of last year, Jacquelyn Smith did a nice piece for Business Insider covering phrases you can use to build trust. You can read it in its entirety here.

Keeping in mind that you must be honest and match words with actions, here are a few of the phrases I think build the best bridge from “total stranger” to “trusted professional.”

“Thank you.”
Spend a week or two listening to how few people use this simple statement of gratitude. You have to mean it, though.

“What this means to you is…”
People need to understand the bottom line. Avoiding this will sound dishonest.

“Yes.”
The unambiguous affirmative. No qualifiers. Nothing that says “maybe.” “Yes” is a magic word, especially when followed by a result.

“What do you think?”
Every time you speak with someone, it’s a conversation, not just a one-man pitch.

“The data shows…”
Information is power. Whenever possible, use data and science to back up what you are saying.

Remember, though, that step one in building trust is to be trustworthy. It’s easier to give proof of something that truly exists.

When it comes to websites, content is still king.

January 28, 2015

When you’re thinking about where to dine, what matters more to you?
The most obvious signage? Or the best food?

The term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) has been thrown around too much in the past few years, and far too many marketing dollars have been sacrificed to it. Now, I’m not saying there’s no place for good SEO strategy. For some businesses it’s vital. But in the Financial Service industry, your focus should be on the content you provide for your visitors, not on manipulating search engine rankings.

Smashing Magazine notes:
“Your primary objective should be better content, not higher rankings. […] you shouldn’t be optimizing for search engines, you should be optimizing for users.”

And as Yola notes:
“The main function of your website is to convey relevant content to your visitors and help them understand the problems that your products and/or services solve.”

Does this mean you have to author every word of your website yourself? No. We’re not all wordsmiths, so if you can find a reliable source that can provide compliant, relevant, well-written information on a regular basis, that’s okay.

KISSmetrics reveals: “I have never seen any evidence that non-original content hurts a site’s ranking.”

If you’re doing as you should – if you have a brand and you’re focusing on a particular type of client – then you should be concentrating on providing quality content of interest to your target audience. SEO should be far, far down on your list of priorities.

Citations …
www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/11/seo-the-inconvenient-truth
www.yola.com/blog/what-makes-a-good-website
blog.kissmetrics.com/myths-about-duplicate-content/ 

The Unfounded Ebola Hysteria in the U.S.

October 16, 2014

A handful of American diagnoses do not signal an epidemic.

screamYou are more likely to die from killer bees than contract the Ebola virus. Statistically, that is currently the case. As The Economist notes, an American’s chances of dying from wasp or bee stings in any given year are about 25,000,000-to-1. Right now, your odds of getting Ebola don’t even approach that.1

Here’s the math: There are 319 million people living in the United States. As this is being written, seven Americans have been diagnosed with Ebola; five of them acquired the disease while living or working in West Africa. Divide 319 million by 7 and you get 45,571,428.57. So one out of every 45.6 million Americans has been diagnosed with Ebola this year.2,3

On U.S. soil, Ebola has so far infected two Americans: 1 in 159.5 million U.S. residents. In comparison, your odds of being killed by an asteroid are 1 in 75 million. Your chances of seeing a sharknado may be greater.

Ebola is no laughing matter, but it is time for some perspective. A new Harvard School of Public Health poll finds that 40% of Americans think they are at risk of getting Ebola. Sixty percent of survey respondents believed they could likely contract the virus if an infected person sneezed or coughed on them; as Vanderbilt Medical Center’s respected infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner recently noted, there is no known instance of Ebola being transmitted that way. At least 80% of those polled realized Ebola victims could be cured with the right medical care.4

On October 15, FOX News anchor Shepard Smith used a bit of air time to call for reason: “Being petrified, and that’s a quote, is ridiculous. The panic that has tanked the stock market and left people fearful that their children will get sick at school is counterproductive and lacks basis in fact or reason. There is no Ebola spreading in America. Should that change, our reporting will change.” He emphasized that an Ebola diagnosis of two Texas health care professionals who had been treating an Ebola victim does not logically constitute an “outbreak” of the disease in the United States.5

Here’s what we know about Ebola transmission: Ebola spreads via direct contact with those infected. “Direct contact” with an Ebola carrier is defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as a) immediate contact with the bodily fluids of that person, b) spending prolonged time within 3′ of said person without wearing protective gear (which could permit indirect contact with bodily fluids expelled from the person).3

Mistakes may have been made in Dallas, but the federal government is strengthening its efforts in screening, contact tracing, and care of Ebola patients. At this point, it seems far more likely that the Ebola diagnoses seen in the U.S. this year will be contained rarities rather than the start of a stateside epidemic.

Citations …
1) economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/02/daily-chart-7 [2/13]
2) census.gov/popclock/ [10/15/14]
3) nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/31/world/africa/ebola-virus-outbreak-qa.html [10/15/14]
4) npr.org/2014/10/15/356451168/poll-40-percent-of-americans-feel-at-risk-for-getting-ebola [10/15/14]
5) thewrap.com/fox-news-shepard-smith-calls-ebola-hysteria-irresponsible-politically-motivated-video/ [10/15/14]