Social Media as Referral Marketing

Crystal Thies has been exploring the use of social media as a marketing tool for financial service

Professionals for more than six years; since she was last a financial advisor herself.

“All business owners should be engaged in social media, as that’s where the people are now,” Thies said.

“Social media has changed the face of marketing because of the interactivity and engagement involved. It’s not just one-sided like traditional media.” Now known as the LinkedIn Ninja, Thies’ company

Crystal Clear Buzz specializes in teaching small business owners and sales professionals how to grow their business using social media platforms. As one of the few social media companies to understand the unique challenges faced by FINRA and SEC regulations, Crystal Clear Buzz provides compliant corporate training, customized strategies and marketing plans, and outsourced services such as profile and company page building, to help financial advisors find prospects and build relationships to ultimately grow revenue. While Thies is well-versed in all social media, she specializes in the business-oriented social networking service LinkedIn, using it for marketing and brand awareness as well as a prospecting tool for referral marketing and sales. “The main reason financial advisors should be engaged with LinkedIn is for the demographics,” Thies said. “Depending on the study you’re looking at, the majority

of LinkedIn users have high five-to-six figure incomes and college degrees – the standard target market for financial advisors. And LinkedIn is the only social medium with hunting capabilities.” LinkedIn allows advisors to develop highly targeted advanced searches that result in a treasure map to their most highly valued prospects.


The advanced search functionality can help an advisor narrow in on a particular

location, school or company, years of experience, career level and more, returning a list of users who may or may not already be connected within an advisor’s circle. The goal is to focus on the “money” level of your network – the second degree connections, which is also the referral level.

Thies cautions advisors to use social media for referral marketing and to treat this virtual platform exactly like they would should they be introducing themselves to an in-person referral. “Just because you find the referral on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you aren’t going to use the same skills as if you

had met them offline,” Thies said. “You wouldn’t walk into a networking event and immediately start talking sales with someone. LinkedIn is just a giant networking event, and if you act the same way you would live, you’ll get good results over time.”


She also warns advisors against using LinkedIn to reach users who are not connected to them at all. Creating a list of users who are all employees at a specific company of interest with the hope to prospect and connect with them without a referral connector in between will be unlikely to garner clients. “That approach is more like building a cold-calling list and you’ll get the same results as cold calling,” Thies said. “At a minimum you can try to connect and then set up a phone call, but there is nothing new or innovative about that approach and you could cause harm to your reputation. With a cold call, the person likely hangs up before you make a memorable impression. “When you contact someone cold via LinkedIn and that contact is unwelcome, they know exactly who you are, they can report you for spam, and worse yet, they can share their negative impressions about you with other people.


The more you connect and mine your network, the more meaningful referral connections you can make that can eventually lead to new clients. If you see a valuable prospect and you don’t have a connection to them now, put them on a shelf and keep building your network organically. Eventually, you will grow a tie to the prospect and a warm introduction is going to increase your likelihood of success exponentially.” Beyond connecting with other users to gain followers and likes, social media gives advisors a cost-effective platform to consistently promote themselves as a knowledgeable, informed and engaged resource. A crucial component to effective social media marketing is to share content and engage users in a meaningful conversation without forcefully selling financial services. Depending on

which social medium is used, the content shared will vary.  “LinkedIn is the one social medium where people want to see and interact solely with professional topics that can offer them personal development and growth,” Thies said. “The type of content you share on LinkedIn should include thought-leadership, career advancement, current events and news that may affect business owners, hot financial news and other topics relevant to your target market.” Many social media research surveys found the number one type of content high net worth investors wanted to see was top trending financial news, according to Thies. Content related to an advisor’s personal life was not highly rated.
“It’s still going to be about balance,” Thies said. “If all you do is talking finance all the time, people are going to tune you out. You should share content based on your target market. What do they want to see and read? What is compelling to them? What do you like to see and read as well? If your ideal client is similar to you, then try sharing items you would enjoy.” Sharing content increases a profile’s visibility. Recent changes in LinkedIn and Facebook have made it difficult for users to ensure their content is seen. Liking and commenting when compliant – and having other office staff do so as well – can increase the visibility of advisor content, profiles or business pages. Another reason Thies encourages advisors to use

LinkedIn over other social media platforms is for its professional concentration and reach.

“Choosing which social media you concentrate on really comes down to who you are trying to reach and when you want to be active with your accounts,” Thies said. “If you plan on posting most of your content activity during business hours, examine your target market closely. Larger companies often block Facebook but still allow access to LinkedIn. If you are going after millennials, middle market or stay-at-home moms, then Facebook may be better suited for your efforts.”

“It doesn’t have to be LinkedIn versus Facebook,” Thies said. “If you have the time to use both mediums efficiently, do so. Otherwise, pick the one where your target market is.” For more details on how advisors can be effective with their clients using the social media click here