6 Tips on Online Reputation Management for Financial Advisors
The key to building your reputation is to go to work every day and make the right choices, do the right things; to act like someone is watching you all the time.
You already know that people you come in contact with will often build your online reputation for you. And yet, there are certain things you can do to manage your online reputation.
What is online reputation management for a Financial Advisor?
If you are even remotely familiar with the concept of online reputation management, you may be thinking about mug shots removal from Google search results, generating fake 5-star reviews of products and services, trolling comments on forums, and alike.
These are unethical tactics used by many, but they don’t truly represent what online reputation management is, or should be, especially in the heavily regulated Financial Services business
First, let’s agree on what online reputation is.
As previously defined on the blog, reputation management is:
How you present yourself online through your LinkedIn profile, personal or company website, social media profiles, blog, and other online venues, combined with what people say about you online.
I can hear you draw a breath; this has Compliance written all over it.
Let’s talk Compliance.
Each firm, size withstanding, has its own compliance needs and requirements. I cannot possibly give you strict guidelines to follow when it comes to your online presence and reputation management. This is your Compliance department’s job. You need to always check with them before posting anything online. But instead of running to them on a case-to-case basis, have a firm strategy and workflow in place.
You know how important your online reputation is. Managing it is even more important. I strongly recommend you get together with your Compliance team and put online reputation management on the table, up for discussion. Get them on board with your strategy. Set up a workflow and schedule for quick and easy review of various content items you publish online, be it blog posts, social media updates, or anything else. Be sure to add disclaimers when needed, and all in all, be overly cautious to follow your firm’s guidance in maintaining compliance.
Having discussed with your Compliance department and agreed on certain aspects of your online reputation management, it will be easier for you to effectively manage your online reputation and stay compliant.
How to improve your online reputation management the right way
If you don’t pay attention to your online reputation, you quite possibly are losing prospects without even knowing it. Here are a few tactics to get you started.
- Conduct an online search of your personal name on a regular basis
A joint study by online reputation management company Brand Yourself and Harris Interactive found that 86% of online U.S. adults have used a search engine like Google to find more information about another person. Among them, 42% have searched someone before doing business with them. Of those that did, 45% have found something that made them decide not to do business.
So, open Google and type your name. What do you see?
Is all the information accurate? If it’s not, make the effort to reach out to the website owner and ask them to change the info.
Is there a bad client review among the search results? It happens. Even though you can’t change the past and undo the wrong you’ve done to that client, you have control over how you react to the bad review. Address it in a polite manner – it will show to prospective clients Googling you that you care and do your best to rectify a bad situation.
Needless to say, whether you reach out to a website owner, or to someone who left a bad review online, you should run it by your compliance department and follow the set procedure for handling similar situations in the future.
If in fact the bad review is not deserved, get in touch with the client to sort out the situation and find a way to remove the negative feedback from the website it’s hosted on. If you cannot do that for some reason, you can hire an online reputation management company to help you optimize pages with positive reviews, or free content you have published to help prospective clients and thus, push the undeserved negative review down on the search results page.
Do this regularly so that you don’t miss anything potentially harmful for your reputation.
- Monitor the internet for brand or name mentions
Use Google Alerts to get notified every time someone mentions your name or brand online. Find a tool to do the same for social media. You can share positive feedback on your own blog or social media profiles to broadcast a positive image. Acknowledge publications through comments and send personal emails to website owners where appropriate. This will help you establish a connection with stakeholders – be it prospective or current clients, colleagues, bloggers, media outlets or even competitors. Again, be sure to follow your Compliance department guidelines set for such situations.
- Reach out to websites and bloggers who have published incorrect information about you
As a Financial Advisor, you should under no circumstances misrepresent yourself online. And while you have full control over what you post online, there’s no guarantee that others are not publishing wrong information about you – by accident or on purpose.
Should you come across a content piece, misrepresenting you in any way, be sure to reach out to the website owner and ask them to correct the information about you. If they don’t reply within a few days, follow up by sending another message or through a different communication channel – e.g. email, phone, social media, or good old snail mail. Be sure to seek help from your compliance department or legal advisor what the best way to proceed is, especially if you are continuously unable to have the inaccurate information corrected.
- Take into account users’ feedback
If someone publishes a bad review, a negative comment or anything somewhat harmful to your reputation online, don’t get automatically angry with them. Put yourself in their shoes. Did you do something wrong? How could you have handled the situation in a better way? Is it a matter of perception or do you have a flaw in your work flow and customer service?
Take into account all users’ feedback, public or private, and actively use it to improve your own offerings and customer service. Be sure to thank your clients for their feedback, no matter good or bad, and tell them how you plan to use it to better help people secure their financial future.
- Analyze on a regular basis your conversations with prospects, clients, blog readers and everyone whom you contact online
This includes private emails, public discussions, customer service assistance chats, blog comments, social media conversations, and everything that involves information exchange between you and your prospects or clients.
Is there a common theme among customer complaints? Are there any recurring issues that clients struggle with? Or is it more of a technical issue they encounter? Or maybe there’s a person in your office who is rude with clients and isn’t constructive when processing their requests?
If someone complains about something – it may be a coincidence. But if most of your prospects and clients are unhappy with the same thing, you might have a problem under your roof. Analyze the situation, make a plan to solve it and let your audience know about it. This is you being accountable and it could do wonders for your online reputation and public perception. Furthermore, it would definitely improve the way you respond to customer inquiries and complaints.
- Update your social media profiles
With social media making its way in the financial services industry during recent years, it is also part of your online reputation management to keep your social media profiles updated. Interact with prospects and clients on social media, if they choose that to be their preferred communication channel. As with every other aspect of your online reputation management, be sure to follow your Compliance department guidelines when interacting on social media as well.
Manage your online reputation properly and your business will thrive.
As long as you conduct yourself professionally and always strive to exceed your clients’ expectations, that is.
If you need help honing your soft skills and building a successful business in the securities industry, join Don Connelly 24/7.