Content Distribution and Social Media

Part II in a series analyzing social media and RIAs

In Part I of this topic, we identified the two best uses, in our opinion, of the social media explosion that RIAs should leverage right now. We believe RIAs should (1) exploit the segregative nature of social media for the purpose of high quality media-based content distribution and (2) leverage the social networking capabilities inherent in the social media platforms. In this installment, we are going to discuss how using the distributive capabilities of social media, essentially acting as an extensions of your website, can increase your firm’s assets under management.

The Relationship

For RIAs, it has always been about the client/advisory firm relationship. If your firm is looking for more organic growth, the question necessarily becomes: “How do we strengthen the relationships we have with our existing clients and move them into a more engaged status,” which at least one study has shown will lead to a greater share of wallet as well as a greater number of referrals. The answer to that question has been shown to be correlated to the number of client “touches” initiated by the advisory firm, with as many as 24 contacts per year defined by some as the ultimate goal. Historically, those client contacts have been satisfied through quarterly report meetings, telephone calls, mass marketing emails, multiple rounds of direct mail, and other physical engagements.

A New Way To Get The Message Out

As was mentioned in Part I, anyone has the ability right now to produce compelling digital content and distribute that content or even stream it live across all forms of consumptive devices used today, including tablets, smartphones, PCs, and Internet-connected televisions, using functionality currently built in to at least one social media platform. This model permits your clients to very easily engage your marketing collateral and other digital assets representative of your firm’s intellectual capital regardless of whether they are working at the office, having lunch, spending time at home, or wrapping up a golf outing at the course clubhouse. This should lead to greater message penetration because of the incredible convenience at which your clients (as well as prospects, referrers, and allied professionals) will be able to consume your intended message. Equally beneficial is the fact that the actual distribution of that media is completely free. Further, the model’s scalability is not predicated upon further investment in either time or resources, removing the labor-intensive element found with some of the traditional methods used to satisfy additional annual client touches. Once the content is created, it’s just as easy to distribute it to one person as it is to thousands. Even if your firm is not looking to attract new business, we believe there is an entire generation, likely found within your existing client base, that will soon expect nothing less from your firm, perhaps even expecting as much as being able to download mobile apps connecting some degree of your back office to their devices.

A Real World Example

So what does all of this talk about content distribution actually mean? Let’s say a recent geopolitical event has just potentially altered the investment strategy for a group of your clients whose portfolio allocations have some measure of exposure to assets that you believe will be affected by this event. Perhaps this event was significant enough that pockets within your client base are also aware of its implications which leads them to wonder about their portfolios’ current exposure. Here is a perfect opportunity for your firm to add tangible value to the client/adivsory firm relationship by providing timely, relevant, market commentary surrounding a topic that interests your clients.

How to Use Social Media’s Distributive Capabilities

Sounds great, but what does social media have to do with any of this, right? Here’s one recommended course of action for a 21st century RIA looking to leverage social media:

  • Produce a brief five minute video presentation where you acknowledge the event and provide appropriate market commentary
  • Post this video on your Google+ page and make it viewable to the circle(s) of clients you are addressing
  • Distribute a mass email to these clients (those who have opted in to receive email correspondence from your firm) informing them of the availability of this presentation that addresses the geopolitical event
  • Notify them in the same message that one week from today, you will be establishing a 30 minute Google+ hangout wherein you will provide a brief overview of the event, provide updated commentary on your firm’s actions, and field all questions from participating clients in the hangout, all using the real time videoconferencing technology built into the Google+ platform accessible on whatever devices your clients have at their disposal during the hangout time frame

The Printed Word Just Isn’t the Same

Now, let’s compare your clients’ reactions to the above delivery mechanism vs the traditional mass email message or newsletter snippet. In reality, the content, derived from your firm’s intellectual capital, is the same. But the experience enjoyed by watching an engaging presentation is simply different better than that received by reading its transcript, particularly if the presenter is addressing the viewer directly. Placed in the context of the client/advisory firm relationship, we believe bundling your message into a media rich package like this imparts the feeling of exclusivity vis-a-vis your clients’ perception of their ability to access your firm’s intellectual capital because they are able to view you presenting that same content, and even engage in real time two-way communication during the Google+ hangout sessions. Further, the initial video can be shared across your clients’ social media networks (more on that in Part III).The implications of exploiting social media as your real time media distribution backbone are truly monumental. In our opinion, the above scenario, which is entirely do-able right now, represents the most significant value add in the client/advisory firm relationship today! And remember, this model is incredibly scalable.

Why Not Just Use Our Website?

Certainly, this is a valid question. But here’s the problem – your website will not segregate your viewers like the social media platforms can unless you implement some sort of login feature with the requisite back-end processing which merely attempts to replicate the grouping functionality already provided by social media. And we want to segregate your contacts and serve relevant, easy to consume content on a timely basis to your clients first because it reinforces the notion of exclusivity. Additionally, the real time videoconferencing framework built into Google+ hangouts combined with the ease of access offered by the iOS and Android apps (all offered freely) is tough to beat.

Lastly, there’s the issue of where to host and how to serve up the original five minute video. There are technical issues surrounding self-hosting HD video on your website that are beyond the scope of this article, but I would be happy to address them in the comments area. For now I’ll simply say it’s unfortunate that an HTML5 video codec standard still has not yet been established. We rarely recommend building a professional brand via a YouTube channel even though YouTube may have the best “all-platform” video encoding distribution system on Earth. There are far too many distractions presented to viewers of YouTube hosted content – from advertisements to recommended views to comments sections. Instead, it’s far better to embed your YouTube-hosted videos in your website. Vimeo (Plus & Pro) subscriptions also provide custom skinning options and HD playback for embedded media players.

The great thing about using Google+ is your content is actually served by YouTube’s back-end, just without all of the YouTube branding. This is crucial because we want your content to be associated with your firm’s brand only, not the hosting service’s brand. And the quality is simply outstanding across a wide range of mobile devices.

After your clients have had a chance to consume your content and interact with you in a small group Google+ hangout, then you can publish the availability of that content for mass consumption via your website in order to attract additional prospects via all of your contacts’ social networking use. And that is what we’re going to discuss in Part III.

If you are an active social media user, please consider sharing this topic with your acquaintances who may benefit from our services.