How social media can make or break your brand

The world – and our industry – has already entered the fourth industrial revolution. Information is the new currency in a world of changed client expectations. Research shows that 57% of clients spend more time on online research than any other activity in the buying journey. It follows then, that social media is potentially a powerful tool for intermediaries. We discuss how to use it to best effect and list some key dos and don’ts.

Social media is a search engine

With increasing activity on social media, it’s become the new search engine. Potential clients look up intermediaries, then seek personal recommendations from friends and peers – and that’s where the value of social media lies.

Build trust and emphasise your track record

If information is the new currency and we know that clients do research, intermediaries must establish a credible online reputation to build trust with strangers. This has the potential to emphasise your track record, enabling the client to learn more about you, build a favourable perception and make an informed decision. Social media provides a platform to engage on scale, and is accessible, easy to use and cost-effective.

Be a resource, not a sales pitch

An active social presence, one that’s relevant to your career, can show that you follow and understand industry news and even present you as a thought leader in that sphere. So make sure you’re following the right people and sharing the right links. The information you share must be of value to your target audience.

Protect yourself and your product providers

Do remember, however, that you need to guard and maintain your digital and ‘real world’ reputation. Always respond to messages appropriately, on time and with the necessary circumspection. Think carefully about what you put out there – your professional and personal brand are among your most important assets. Be sure the content you post is the kind of information you’d like a potential client to know about you. Once out there, it’s impossible to retract. Remember that even if you delete a post, it would only have taken a second for someone to have shared and distributed it.

Here are some dos and don’ts

Do

  • Consider how your employer, its associates and your professional standing might be affected if a comment or share of yours were to be misinterpreted and go viral
  • Share credible content from reputable sources that adds value to your audience
  • Ensure you’re represented on the right social media platforms with content appropriate for that platform. What’s right for Facebook can be very different to content suited to LinkedIn. If you’re not sure of the right tone and format, seek help from someone knowledgeable
  • Build and manage a credible online profile. You can start by applying some of these concepts and strategies in your business
  • As an intermediary, you may want to use a business page instead of your personal profile. In other words, keep your business page professional and separate from your personal profile.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Sanlam Distribution Social Media Policy. If you intend to use social media, sign up here for advisers and here for brokers.

Don’t

  • Publish confidential or very personal information or ‘overshare’
  • Post inappropriate, prohibited, false or criminal content
  • Discuss employees, competitors, suppliers or third parties in a negative light
  • Respond on behalf of Sanlam to any post or comment. Leave all company-related comments or responses to the authorised company spokesperson
  • Give personal financial advice or specific product recommendations on any social media platform
  • Make comments on Group social media platforms, such as Sanlam’s Facebook page, in order to solicit business. This also applies to any of our digital marketing campaigns
  • Place confidential Sanlam information on social networking sites.
  • Post personal views and affiliations (be they political, religious etc.), Restrict these to your own personal social pages, and make sure that no-one who reads it can connect you to your employer in any way.