Every adviser practice, and often advisers within it, is a brand. And brands publish content.
From web copy to social media, newsletters, blogs and podcasts, many advisers are very successfully communicating with their clients and potential clients.
The people who engage with this content are your community. But with more than 500 million blogs now compared to 50 million in 2006, more content may not be the answer to connecting with this community.
More content makes sense if you’re a media company and content is your business, but for a lot of brands the future of community engagement is connection, not content.
It’s likely true your content is what brought people together into your community in the first place – and you probably should remind them of that regularly – but people don’t just want more information. You can see the evolving trend of community in the actions of social media; businesses that make their money from both content and community. Whereas simply distributing content to users is a one-way process, they have been moving towards more collaborative and social tools, features and events.
Community platforms such as Slack and Twitter have made similar moves. And this shift addresses three problems with mere content for content’s sake.
Let me explain with a typical example. You post a video in your YouTube channel for potential clients. There are three broad issues that prevent prospects from consuming this content in a way that easily translates to them becoming your client.
The asynchronous problem: it may not be seen when relevant. We have essentially missed each other on a relational level.
It’s likely true your content is what brought people together into your community in the first place… but people don’t just want more information.
The isolating problem: they are alone when they watch the video on their phone. It’s not a shared experience between you and them, and they can’t ask questions or explore context and how they might benefit from what is being said.
The passive problem: they are busy; they don’t need to watch it. It’s not urgent. You’re not waiting for them like you would if you were together or in a meeting in person.
What social media has figured out as a solution to these problems is a real-time connection with face-to-face, two-way interaction around a shared experience among a closed group of people. In other words, it’s an event. Events are live, connect people, have two-way interaction, instigate a shared experience and are face to face.
The opportunity here is for financial advice firms to facilitate this for their community – and events can be a great way to do that. As an example, at the practice I founded I came up with the concept of the Advocates’ Breakfast Club. Clients and professional connections were invited to a regular event to meet, mingle and learn. They were also encouraged to bring along people they felt might gain from attending.
The capabilities of modern technology mean we can now all host events such as this virtually; for less cost, less stress and without the effort required to source venues and deal with overspend, public transport and all the other attendant issues of face-to-face events.
We can now distil the benefits of an event to its core value: new connections and great informative expertise that is needed and wanted by clients and prospects.
The pandemic lockdown doesn’t look like ending soon so I urge you to start thinking about your online event strategy – not your content strategy – for your client community. If you aren’t there already, begin by hosting pilot events and test out what resonates with your clients.
By Lee Robertson, CEO of Octo Members Group
This article first appeared in Money Marketing on 9 October 2020.