Social Proof Matters for Financial Advisors in the Socially Distanced Age
Let’s face it, we all spent a lot, A LOT of time on our screens in 2020. And as many of us continue to work from home, our electronics and our internet continue to be some of our most trustworthy companions. The shift from socializing to browsing has, of course, also affected our businesses. While social proof has always been important for businesses, it is arguably even more important in the socially distanced age for financial advisors.
So what exactly is social proof?
According to Robert Cialdini, a psychologist and professor, influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Social proof is described by Cialdini as “a psychological and social phenomenon that leads people to mimic the actions of others in a given situation because of an inherent need to conform.” In layman’s terms, when people are unsure about how to act, feel, or think in a certain situation, they look to the people around them and adopt their behavior.
For example, if a friend recommends a restaurant, you are probably going to be more inclined to try that restaurant than if it was just some place you passed by on your way home from work. Similarly, if you are walking down a busy street full of restaurants trying to choose a dinner spot, you’ll probably gravitate towards the location that is full of customers, versus the empty bistro next door.
The same goes for financial advisors. Potential clients are more likely to choose an advisor with thought leadership followers, media syndications, and social media engagement, than one whose Google search turns up little more than a website.
In the socially distanced age, where people are spending even more time online than usual, it makes sense that social proof would be especially important. Additionally, trends show that prospects and referrals are actually doing more research into services these days, and not less.
As a financial advisor, here are four key questions to ask yourself when thinking about your own social proof:
1. Where do you appear for added credibility? (e.g. advisor directories, optimized Google My Business, etc.)
The first thing most prospects will do when researching a service or provider is to conduct a web search, so it’s critical to put your best digital foot forward. Remember to optimize any web appearances with keywords and a client focus.
2. Are you featured in any publications?
Features and syndications in local and national publications help build authority and demonstrate expertise. Were you featured in a Forbes article? Were you consulted by your local news station as a contributor? These features will boost your credibility.
3. Who are your COIs, and what do they care about?
COIs, or centers of influence, are people or organizations that can boost your reputation through word-of-mouth. Generally, they are well-established and have expansive networks, meaning that referrals from them often carry more weight, and engaging with their clients provides a transfer of trust.
4. What do your numbers look like?
Use your numbers to your advantage. Some prospects are looking for a big firm. Some for personal service. A few for the best deal on AUM. Some want to see that you manage, on average, HNW+ investable assets. Some care about business longevity. Most care about fiduciary/fee-only/credentials and fees. The important point here is to speak directly to your target client and share information that is of value to them.
Now that you’ve considered these questions, what can you do to establish or bulk up your social proof? Here are a few tried and tested options.
Positive word of mouth
Ask your clients to spread the word about your awesome service or share content that their networks might value.
Awards, credentials, or recognition
Having awards and credentials under your belt is a way of showing, rather than telling, that you know what you’re doing. We all know the phrase, “actions speak louder than words,” and sometimes credentials do, too.
Social media following
These days, a social media following is undeniably a form of social proof. While a large social media following is certainly not a necessity, (don’t go out and buy a bunch of followers for the sake of social proof) it can definitely be helpful in gaining trust and showing industry leadership directly to the people that you are trying to reach.
Social proof is just one of the many considerations you should keep in mind when building a marketing plan. At Beyond AUM, we help our clients speak to the right people at the right time through social media, public relations services, and thought leadership. If you’re ready to optimize your online presence and establish social proof, reach out to Beyond AUM today.