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Kitces & Carl Ep 132: What Drives Real Advisor Marketing Success: Vanity Metrics Vs Engaged Prospects


At the end of each calendar year, social media platforms compile a wrap-up of each user’s metrics, showing a theoretical reach for every account’s best-performing piece of created media content and highlighting the “Best Of The Best” on the web, while revealing social media ‘superstars’ who have millions of impressions and followers. But how much do these numbers really matter for financial advisors driving the growth of their businesses? While some advisors may be naturally inclined to compare these figures with the actual reach of their own content getting in front of their target client base, are these ‘vanity’ metrics really a useful tool in helping advisors get better results, or are they simply a noisy distraction?

In our 132nd episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how exceptionally high social media impressions or numbers of followers don’t necessarily signal the authentic growth of an advisory firm’s business, and why creating content that engages a specific audience that finds value in that content is what matters most for advisors whose primary objective is to increase their client base (even though they may have much fewer followers, subscribers, impressions, and other smaller metrics than the social media ‘stars’ with purported 6-figure subscriber lists!).

As a starting point, understanding which metrics are actually relevant to the business is crucial for advisors to discern the right path toward actively engaging an audience with their content. And that comparing what may seem to be humble numbers against the top accounts on social media will only interfere with the advisor’s own journey of planning out a successful business growth strategy; instead, focusing on the creation of content that their target audience, however big or small, truly cares about and that motivates them to interact with the advisor’s social media presence will lead to more valuable outcomes (including new audience members, referrals, and prospect conversion) in the end!

Importantly, appealing to the firm’s particular target audience through relevant and meaningful content will be more likely to attract the right prospects to that content. Which often means more referrals and audience members, ultimately leading not just to more prospects and client conversions but also to a broader reach out to even more prospects who find value in what the advisor offers, which is often the primary goal from the start. So while a large unfocused campaign, generically targeted to hundreds of thousands of followers, might be an attractive approach to boost impressions and followers to keep up with other social media stars, the reality is that this direction doesn’t yield results as valuable as highly specific messaging targeted to a smaller subset of subscribers who most resemble the firm’s ideal target client. And even though this audience base may be a minuscule fraction of those who follow larger social media celebrities, it comprises individuals who are familiar with and find value in the advisor’s content – and who are also much more likely to connect and engage with the advisor for their services as well.

Ultimately, the key point is that slow growth through relevant and impactful content will result in more meaningful engagement and action from a prospective client base than untargeted blanket campaigns sent to many thousands of individuals. Building a business and client base that fits within an advisor’s capacity to sustainably provide clients with high-quality service is more important than having an impressive 50K+ followers, especially when those 50K+ followers only translate into single-digit numbers of individuals who actually engage with the business. And having fewer followers and subscribers who actively engage in an advisor’s content because they found something they connected with on some level is exponentially more valuable than adopting a strategy that promises growth based on high numbers alone!

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