Content marketing covers a huge range of activities. The scope of your efforts can quickly get overwhelming and leave you with a lot of questions about how to actually make your marketing worth your while.
Which is why I’m excited to roll out the first post in this new series. My goal is to help you tackle that feeling of overwhelm and give you a simple, straightforward answer that allows you to move forward where you currently feel uncertain.
I invite you to send me the questions you have around:
- Inbound marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Project management
- Freelancing or entrepreneurship
- Strategy and creative development
…or whatever it is that’s on your mind as an advisor or business owner who wants to start growing influence and gaining clients.
I’ll answer your question directly in a mailbag-style post so you can stop feeling stuck and start taking action.
To kick off this series, I pulled together two questions around social media from advisors running their own financial planning firms. First, we’ll look at what metrics around your social media marketing are important to track (and why). Then, we’ll talk a little about how to start using Facebook ads in a manageable, cost-effective way.
Question: I’m curious as to what social media stats you think are important to track, if any.
I’ve heard you talk about engagement being more important than the amount of followers, but I guess I’m looking for more detail on the type of engagement I should prioritize. Likes, shares, messages? All of the above?
— Brian Thompson, JD, CFP® and founder of Brian Thompson Financial
Answer: When it comes to social media metrics, I tend to track followers month to month so I can see a basic trend over time. I don’t put too much store by the actual number, but what I want to see is the follower count growing over time.
If it stagnates, that indicates that I need to start poking around to understand what’s going on. Why isn’t growth happening?
If it drops, that’s a big red flag. What have I done to actively turn people away? Something is seriously wrong if people are making the effort to unfollow, unlike, and get away from a social media profile!
(A common exception: if you make a pivot of some kind and rebrand yourself. You may see an initial drop-off as people who followed your old brand don’t find your new content relevant, but it should be temporary. The trend should start going up again as a new audience connects and resonates with your new brand.)
As far as specific measures of engagement, I think clickthroughs on your calls to action are the most important.
Let’s say your firm’s Facebook page has 100 people who like it. You may publish a post and get 0 likes on it. But what if 10 people clicked through to the link on your site that you shared in the post?
If this was the case, people are engaged — just not in a publicly visible way. This is why it’s important to use links you can track, like bit.ly links.
And keep in mind, when thinking about metrics around engagement, the amount of people who “like” your page will impact how much activity a typical post sees. This can also indicate the quality of your audience.
Again, assuming you have a small following, getting a handful of likes or a share or two on every post is big! You have a great ratio between your total audience and the ones who are engaged.
But let’s say you have 1,000 Facebook page likes, and you struggle to earn a like or two on any post you publish. This indicates a problem, because your audience as a whole isn’t caring about what you have to say.
Beyond setting up trackable links in your CTAs, I would look at likes, retweets, shares, and comments. By tracking this activity, you start seeing what posts generate interest and attention and which consistently fail to earn any engagement.
Again, look for trends and patterns. If you can see that short, tweet-sized posts on Facebook regularly get less activity than longer, more thorough posts, you can start phasing the ineffective post type out of your rotation.
You also want to look at times that posts do well, and then schedule future content to go out on those days/times that are most optimized for your audience.
All social media platforms have their own analytics dashboards, so you can start there to evaluate your current picture. Then choose the metrics that are most important to you, based on your goals.
Ultimately, there’s a reason you’re on social media. Identify why, and then set goals that align with that. From there, understanding what metrics to track and care about should become easier.
Question: I’ve seen consultants using Facebook Ads to drive business. How can advisors use this deliberately and cost-effectively?
— Dave Grant, CFP® and founder of Retirement Matters, Inc.
Answer: I love this question, because I think getting a handle on Facebook’s paid advertising platform is growing increasingly important for everyone.
Nearly every target market is on Facebook. Getting active here makes sense for almost any business, including financial advisory firms.
The problem is, even the best organic content struggles to perform well thanks to the algorithms social media networks use to decide what appears in a user’s feed.
Now is a great time to experiment with Facebook Ads for that reason — but also because right now, they’re relatively cheap. Experts like Gary Vaynerchuk predict they won’t be within about 3 years.
Gary Vee’s theory is that we’re running out of time before major corporations and brands figure out that million-dollar television commercials no longer work, and inbound marketing — and all consumer attention — is in new spaces, like Facebook.
When big brands start throwing their money behind Facebook Ads, the price of running your own advertisements on the platform will skyrocket. So now is the time.
Here’s a super simple way to use Facebook ads to get in front of your target market and pick up prospects in a way that’s cost-effective to you as a small business owner:
- Pull up your Page insights and check out your post performance. . Before you pay any kind of money for ads, you need to understand what from your silo of organic content performs best. No, it may not be an amazing performance relative to a paid campaign — but let’s compare apples to apples. What posts performed best, and when? This is like holding auditions for your content before you choose one star to financially back.
- Identify your best organic content. Your organic posts provide you with a way to test your content that you think would be a good ad before you actually pay to run it. Only promote the winning posts — the ones that got the most engagement, the most click-throughs, the most activity.
- Target your ads. Once you test lots of content organically and choose the one post that performed best, don’t just “boost” that post. Take that content and create an entirely new campaign — and make it a targeted one. You want to use targeting to get the most mileage out of your paid advertisements. Target specific, relevant keywords and narrowly define your audience. The more targeted your audience, the more likely they’ll actually click on your advertisement and you’ll get more for your ad spend.
- Video is better on Facebook right now. There’s something called a “relevance score” in Facebook ads (and I would read up on that before you get started).Currently, video content tends to get more engagement and can boost that relevance score for you. If you’re up for it, try creating a video ad and not just a plain-text campaign to get more bang for your buck (which, in this case, means more eyeballs on your content).
Getting started is that simple: create a testing ground through sharing multiple forms of organic content and determine what performs best, use ad targeting before you run your campaign, and if you want to
Don’t put a lot of money behind your first few ads. Just spend $20-$50 per piece (and remember, you’ve already vetted that the content itself does well, so this will help make sure you’re using this small amount wisely), and then track the data.
Don’t run multiple ads at once, or keep throwing money behind a single campaign until you see that it’s working — or if it’s not. Again, keep up with the data and see how it performs. Stick with one thing at a time so you understand what may be influencing your results.
The tricky part is that Facebook can be finicky when it comes to financial content. I’ve seen boosted posts rejected on the basis that they contained language deemed unacceptable by Facebook’s advertising policies.
Facebook does have regulations and specifically calls out segments of the financial industry in their guide for Advertising Basics. Here’s the official guideline around ad copy:
Ad copy must describe and represent the advertised or sponsored brand or product in an accurate and non-misleading way. Ads must not make unsubstantiated claims, including but not limited to price, performance and results. Any claim made in the copy should also be reflected on the landing page. Also, ad copy must not be insulting, harassing or threatening to people. Language used in an ad may not be offensive, profane, vulgar, libelous, slanderous or unlawful.
We likely don’t need to worry about the latter half of that — hopefully as a trusted advisor and fiduciary you’re not running around bashing people with intentional and profane insults.
These rules seem simple enough, but the example Facebook gives as this pertains to a financial-based ad feels extremely subjective, and honestly, a little bit backwards.
Check out what they say is acceptable versus what’s unacceptable language in a paid ad:
Financial status or information
Acceptable: “We have the best services for your financial needs”
Unacceptable: “Broke? Bankrupt? Check out our services”
What I personally don’t understand is the guidelines state that ads “must not make unsubstantiated claims.” But in their own example, “the best services for your financial needs” screams unsubstantiated!
What Facebook say is unacceptable seems perfectly fine copy to me — it’s an invitation to check out a service offering if you find yourself in a specific financial situation.
None of this is to say, “don’t use Facebook ads.” But if you want to experiment successfully, this is something important to note.
Advisors will need to focus on their value and on outcomes rather than features or services to run good Facebook ad campaigns.