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Why is your firm on Instagram?

Since joining Yardstick, I’ve met a lot of IFAs. Some are sole traders operating from their homes; others are multi-adviser firms operating from offices across the UK. Interestingly, it’s the latter type of firm which will tend to have an Instagram account.

And I’ve asked them, why?

The responses are usually: Because everyone else is on it, so we’ve got to be on it.

And my response? No, you don’t!

Why Instagram?

When deciding on which social media channels your firm should be on, there are two key things to consider:

  1. Your audience
  2. Your content

…in that order. Having said that, I’m going to focus on the second one first (bear with me).

Instagram is an image-led platform. All of the posts are images or video with minimal text to accompany them. By its very nature, Instagram attracts visually-led brands (and celebrities). The brands with the most reach and engagement (i.e. likes, comments, shares) from their audiences are posting beautifully shot, attractive photos of their products (or in the case of celebrities, themselves!).

Of course, with a physical product, it’s easy – you can show it in different ways to portray its purpose and evoke an emotion (along the lines of, ‘I’ve got to have that!’).

Financial services are intangible; so they’re much harder to ‘show’ in a photo. Of course, this problem isn’t insurmountable; you can show images of people, ideally real-life clients, enjoying their wealth. You can also post videos of your clients talking about how you’ve helped them and how their lives are better as a result.

The problem is that producing consistently polished and professional images and video is really time-consuming, which doesn’t always work well with the fast-paced nature of Instagram which needs a constant feed of content. It’s also expensive to produce.

For this reason alone, IFA firms should consider whether they can compete with all of the other brands on Instagram to grab people’s attention. Can they produce consistently good quality, eye-catching, attention-grabbing images in the same way as Louis Vuitton? Often the answer is no. A photo of Barbara from Accounts with her 60th birthday cake just doesn’t cut it.

Now, I’ll admit that I’m no expert on Instagram, but from what I can see, the average IFA achieves very little engagement with their Instagram posts; a few ‘likes’ but even fewer comments or shares. You’ve got to ask – what is this effort achieving?

It’s more about the audience

In an earlier blog, I referred to the task of creating client ‘personas’ for the purpose of identifying who it is you’re writing for. The idea is that you identify the type of client you want to attract, then work out where you can locate them in order to communicate with them.

One of the key factors to consider when you build a client persona is what social media does your ideal client use? And here’s where you really need to look under the bonnet of Instagram.

According to Hootsuite (a very well-known and established social media planning tool, at the heart of the social media industry), there are 23 million Instagram users in the UK. That’s a big audience to reach. But then you need to consider that 70% of Instagram users are under 35. You can see more details of the demographic make-up of Instagram users here: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-demographics/

Of course, there are firms out there who are keen to attract the next generation of clients, using alternative services such as robo-advice. Even so, I can’t see how a photo of your latest bake-off will tempt a 30-year-old to use your ‘self-service’ approach to providing financial advice.

So, should your firm be on Instagram?

In short, if you have a service that appeals to under 35s and you specifically want to target them with your marketing, and you have the time and budget to produce regular, good quality content, then yes, go for it!

If you’re like the majority of IFAs I’ve met, who want to attract clients who’ve built up some wealth and now need guidance on how to manage it to achieve their life goals, then I don’t believe that Instagram is the right channel for you.

For them, and smaller firms, in particular, I recommend that you focus your marketing efforts on channels which will definitely reach your audience; and I’m willing to bet that for social media, it’ll be Facebook.

If you need more guidance on how to grow your social media platforms, get in touch. You can email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.

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