I just read an article from Mitch Joel at Twist Image who is well recognized in the social media circles.  He posed the question:  What is the best way to grow an audience and build your community? Is it a Facebook page? Is it Twitter? Is it posting a video to YouTube? What about creating a Blog? What is the best way to grow an audience?

His response was “There is not a specific platform or channel that is the right answer. The truth is that you need a strong strategy that defines the types of content you would be best at producing, what the overall business objectives are, and a whole swath of other questions that will lead you to the optimal tactics.”

My two cents

I get a lot of advisors who wonder if they should get into this whole social media thing.  My belief is social media is another way to network, market and brand yourself.  It’s clearly not the only way but advocates will argue that it is the ‘best’ way and the way of the future.  I don’t think anyone can argue that facebook, twitter and blogging is part of our lives now and will only become more prominent moving forward.  As a relative newbie to the world of social media, I offer some of my comments on each social media strategy

Facebook – My big problem was blurring the lines between personal friends and business contacts.  I created a profile for myself and realized this was more of a social thing than a business thing.  The great news moving forward is Facebooks commitment to the business world.  Facebook is putting a lot of effort and resources to their “Facebook Pages”.  Instead of becoming “Fans” of businesses, celebrities, or organizations, you now “Like” a Facebook page.  My belief is that every business should have a facebook page but the ultimate success comes in the interaction or relationship you have with your “Likers” (That’s not a facebook term but my interpretation of what someone who likes a page might be called).  Having a facebook page and doing nothing with it is no different than having a static website and never changing it.  The cool thing is you are in control.  I remember my first website was the typical static brochure but the problem was if you needed to make a change, you had to call a web designer and pay them money.  With facebook, you control everything.  You make the changes.  You need to be involved or what I call engaged.

Twitter(@JimYih) – It took me a while to get into twitter and make sense of it but now I really like it.  I spend about 20 mintues a day looking through the people I follow to see if anything is interesting.  It has replaced the newspaper for me.  I see a lot of people having conversations though twitter (tweeting back and forth) but I must admit I don’t really get that yet.  For me Twitter is a link to information.  I read some links from twitter, some good and some bad and then I re-tweet the good articles to my followers.  Here’s the magic.  At first I was just tweeting my own articles and not getting a lot of followers but the minute I started to re-tweet other peoples stuff, my followers started to increase.  In a nutshell, I think twittering is about giving before getting.  If you go in with a me strategy, I think people will see right through that.  Twitter is a new way of developing relationships.  People follow you for a while and see if they like what you tweet.  If not, they move on.  It’s kind of like dating.  As I said, what I love about twitter is the link to information but what I don’t like is the abundance of information.  Like anything, I am htting information overload.  I could manage the information when I was following about 15 people.  Now I am up to 73 people and it’s just too much.  I’m now learning to set up lists and use other filtering programs like tweetdeck and hootsuite but it’s a constant learning curve.

Blogging (WealthWebGurus.com, GroupBenefitsOnline.ca) – As you can see, I am a big fan of blogging.  It’s another form of expression.  I think it’s a way for your audience, your clients and prospects to get to know you.  When you write and article or a post, you are sharing your expertise, opinions, and thoughts.  I am also biased because not only do I like to write, I feel like I have to write.  Writing formulates my thoughts and organizes my ideas.  I love blogging but the trick to blogging is to build an audience.  That’s the hard part and as Mitch Joel says, “don’t assume the ‘build it and they will come’ model will work.”

The bottom line is like any marketing strategy, you have to find something that ‘fits’ your style.  For me it’s not about facebook or twitter or blogging.  It’s about social media and that involves all three.  Technology links the three together so well now that it’s easier and easier to do all three.  They really do work together.  If you want to get into the social media game, then jump in and engage and understand it is all about relationships.  If you don’t want to get into the social media game, just remember there are clients of yours that are engaging in it today and your competition is getting into it.

About Jim Yih

As a professional financial speaker, best selling author, columnist and financial expert, Jim is passionate about financial education and helping people make better decisions with money. Jim’s 20 years of experience in the financial industry helps people demystify investing, retirement, and personal finance. His passion is seen in his relentless development of financial education tools, resources and products including audio CDs and software programs. Jim spends most of his time helping employers and employees by bringing financial education into the workplace as a complement to existing benefit and wellness programs.