Brittney Castro on Instagram, Periscope, and Why You Should Always Be Sharing
WHO: Brittney Castro, CFP®, CRPC®, AAMS®
WHAT: Founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women
WHAT'S ON HER MIND: “It really doesn’t matter to me how many people come to my website. What I focus more on is getting them to do something once they’re there.”
She started her career in the planning profession at age 22 and broke out on her own, launching the RIA firm Financially Wise Women, at age 28.
Just a few years later, Brittney Castro, CFP®, has built a successful planning practice, established an undisputable social media presence, and is getting the attention of major media outlets including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Her success stems, in part, from a few simple strategies: she has a clearly defined target market (women seeking to be free from anxiety about money), she’s meeting them where they are (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter), and she’s taking bold marketing moves (dabbling with Periscope and making rap videos).
And, when it comes to marketing yourself using social media, she’s big on keeping it simple and having a strategy.
“You really have to be specific about who your demographic is and just go to where they’re going,” says Castro, who repurposes content across social media sites and uses tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts and manage multiple campaigns.
“You can only do so many things in a day, so just pick the one or two social media sites that you know are going to work for your demographic and go there, but have some intent behind it.”
The Journal recently sat down with Castro to learn more about her social media strategy, the different ways she’s finding success generating new leads and new clients, as well as her advice for other young planners seeking to start their own firms.
1. Your mission as founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. What inspired you to focus on women?
Being a woman in the industry, I felt this huge disconnect with the rest of the industry as a whole. Predominately 80 percent of financial advisers are male, and even being a young female—I started at a financial planning firm when I was 22—I was always this rare breed; I would stand out like a sore thumb at industry events. So part of it was my own selfish reasons. I wanted to be able to focus on working with people more like me, so I could connect with clients on a deeper level and kind of say, “I sit on the same side of the table as you. I understand not only your financial goals and challenges, but also the emotions that come along with them because I’m right here in this stage with you.”
The other part of it was, looking at the numbers, women are going out there and becoming the breadwinners of the household, managing the finances. With this shift of wealth over to the hands of women, I thought, this is interesting because there are not a lot of women financial planners, and yet women are controlling the money and making those financial decisions and perhaps not feeling supported by the industry as a whole. I started to realize: here I am at this perfect time and opportunity to say I actually have a personal interest to do this, and there’s a need for it in the marketplace. That’s really why I started to focus on women specifically.
2. How do you target your ideal clients on social media and provide a “value” experience for them?
The social media strategy I developed for the firm focuses on driving people to the website. So the value I create—whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter—is ultimately building a connection with someone who might see my post. Giving them a little tip—whether it’s a finance tip, some sort of inspiration, or just a snapshot into my life—to make that personal connection to hopefully inspire them to take the next action, which is to check me out, take that one step further, click through to the website, or click through to see more about me.
For each platform, we use a different strategy to communicate. Facebook has a certain way that you talk to it, versus Twitter, versus Instagram, versus YouTube.
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are where I spend most of my [social media] time because my ideal clients—women who are professionals and more entrepreneurial—are on these sites on a regular basis.
So the strategy is more or less inspiring them, making a personal connection to get them to think of me or click through to the website to see more about the services I offer, and hopefully fill out one of our forms, or sign up to the email list, then we start our drip marketing emails.
I have over 5,000 people on my email list now, and that’s what I consider my lead base, because I send them weekly emails with a finance tip and continue to bring that value so when the time comes that they think, now I want to get my finances in order, hopefully they think of me first because I’ve built this relationship with them.
And it really doesn’t matter to me how many people come to my website. What I focus more on is getting them to do something once they’re there. Whether that’s schedule a consultation with me or subscribe to the email list, that’s where I consider them an actual lead. Now I have their contact information and can be proactive and follow up with them.
The website can shut down tomorrow and I would still have all these contacts and leads that I could take with me.
3. How are you using Instagram to promote your practice?
Instagram is something I’ve been more focused on since July. I’ve had an Instagram account for a few years, but I wasn’t intentional with what I was doing; I didn’t have the marketing strategy behind it. So I really took some time to understand Instagram. A lot of people are on Instagram these days, just checking in. It’s kind of like the new Facebook. I decided to put more intent behind [it]; I decided every day, I’m going post something. Sometimes it will be a money inspiration, most of the time it’s just about me and my life, but if people want more information, there’s my [website information].
It’s going to where my people are. I thought: okay, if women in their 30s and 40s are on Instagram, I should go there and connect with them, and they’ll see that I’m a person just like them. And when they need financial advice they’ll come to me.
We schedule out for 30 days now on Instagram. I post every morning at the same time. It’s like a prescheduled thing. It’s a lot more system-oriented, but I do put thought into it, and I have seen more success with likes and comments because I feel it’s not just some random thing I’m posting in the middle of my day, but I’ve actually given it thought; I’m thinking: how will this inspire someone? How will this showcase me and connect to somebody on the other end?
4. What are some tools you use to streamline your social media efforts?
I use Hootsuite for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so it’s all scheduled. The way I systematize it is, I have somebody manage the Facebook and Twitter accounts and I work on the Instagram content. We pool from our content library, and now that I have enough content, we repurpose things all the time, but we map out the next 30 days, get it all scheduled, then all we have to do is review it, oversee it, and work on the next 30 days of content.
I encourage other advisers to take a few hours one day and work on Facebook content, or whatever it is, for the next 30 days. Do that once a month; get it scheduled, it’s much more efficient that way.
5. What does A.B.M., or “always be marketing” look like for you, and what can you tell fellow planners about this mantra so it doesn’t seem overwhelming?
It’s not overwhelming when I think about it in the right way. And actually, what I say is, “always be sharing.”
I always share what I’m up to, because it would be so easy for me to go throughout my day, like most of us, plugging away at my agenda or my to-do list, and not even look up and connect to the person right in front of me wherever I am.
I always think, how about I just share with somebody, like “Hi, how are you? Here’s what’s happening in my life.” When I do that, something always happens where it comes back to my business. And that’s because my business is part of my life, and that’s marketing because I connect.
Once I make a connection with somebody, it could lead to lunch with a center of influence. Or maybe the conversation goes in a direction where I tell them what I do and they say, “That’s so great that you’re focusing on women. I have this friend …” It doesn’t always result in a prospect or a client, but it just feels good because I’m sharing what I’m passionate about. It usually leaves me inspired because when I share and open up to somebody, they’ll usually open up back and it just feels good.
It is overwhelming, though, when I think about “always sell.” That word, “sell,” still freaks me out. Even though we make our sales calls and we have our sales goals, the moment I feel like I’ve got to sell, that old school pressure comes in, like I’ve got to make my quota, and this horrible feeling comes over me and I feel paralyzed. I don’t want to do it. I have so much resistance.
So I tell myself, I’m not selling, I’m just sharing what I do. When I do that, things happen, things move, I feel better, and who knows where it could lead.
6. You made a rap video about how if you want to have money, you have to work and save. What inspired you to do this, and how has that video helped you?
I started my RIA, Financially Wise Women, about three years ago, and at that time I thought I only wanted to do fee-only financial planning. And to diversify my revenue and income streams, I wanted to look at getting paid speaking, creating an online product, and perhaps doing some consulting.
About a year in, I spoke at a conference about women entrepreneurship, and this company here in LA called Next Generation Startups asked me if I wanted to do consulting work with them, and that would include making video content around finance and entrepreneurship. As I was working with them, we had conversations around how to bring financial wisdom and education to the millennials they were targeting.
I had been making my own YouTube videos for a while, and I said yes, I could do that, but what would be cool is if we did a rap video instead. Millennials are so used to seeing these BuzzFeed videos or viral YouTube videos, and they’re usually spoofs or have some sort of music.
And, it had been a lifetime dream of mine to make some sort of music video. I’m a dancer, and it just so happened my assistant, Tanysha, is a singer-songwriter. The production company with my consulting client, Next Generation, was behind it, so we did it. We created custom lyrics and a custom track.
The whole point was to make it educational and legitimate financial advice, but in a very fun and catchy way. It was so enjoyable to put it out there and just say, this is me; I am a financial planner, but I love dance, I love music, and I don’t take myself so seriously, and why should we?
Personally, it allowed me to take that bold move to create something, and spice it up, stir up the pot a little bit because I think everybody gets so restricted in how we think we need to be doing things. Marketing can be fun. We can make spoof videos if we want and it’s okay. Many in my community loved it. People even started singing the song and saying now it’s stuck in their head. I thought, perfect, that was exactly what we wanted it to be—so catchy that you remembered what I was actually saying.
7. How are you using Periscope in your practice, and what do you think about it so far?
I’m dabbling with Periscope. I went to a conference and Michael Kitces was using it and I thought, I should try this out. I knew a lot of other web influencers were using Periscope, but I thought: one more thing I have to do; I really don’t want to do it. But he just showed me it was super easy, so I tried it with my community.
I did some test Periscope live streams last month. I tested different times to see when we got the most live viewers. It turned out around 12 p.m. on a Tuesday; there were about 50 people on and I had a lot of replays.
The hard part about Periscope, though, is like anything else, you have to do it pretty consistently to build the following and community, and then drive them back to your site. The whole thing is sharing—sharing some tips, or an insight of your personal life, and then getting them inspired to do something next, which for me, is going to the website.
I will probably test out more in the New Year, but for right now, we did those initial tests and until I have a better strategy behind this, I’m going to hold off on any further Periscope streams.
8. You offer a six-week online money class. How are you using it to generate new business?
The money class was launched in January 2014. Last year , I sold about 50, and about 50 this year , so total I’ve made about $30,000 from the class. It cost me roughly $3,000 to build. It took me a year just to do research and development, and I had about a two-month creation process before I launched it.
It was such a needed thing, because I would meet with a lot of people who weren’t ready for my financial planning, but who wanted to work with me and needed somewhere to go. I could refer them to read a book about personal finance, but they wanted something more than that, and I saw online courses as the wave of the future.
So it was very helpful for me to launch something that was under $300, put some social media marketing behind it, and bring it to people I don’t even know yet.
I think the money class has been very successful on a few different fronts. Financially speaking it was really worth the investment I put in. I’m excited about the next few years because the product is already built, so now I’m starting to pitch it to bigger partnerships.
I have had success with money class students becoming clients. Not a lot, but I’ve had two or three successful conversions from it, which out of 100 students is not bad.
9. You started your own firm at age 28. What have you learned from that experience, and what advice do you have for fellow millennial planners who are thinking about starting their own firms?
Be naive like me! It is totally possible to do it, but it does take a certain personality to want it. Because I’ve always wanted my own business, I was never satisfied. I started at Ameriprise Financial, and then I went to LPL Financial, and I wasn’t satisfied because I had all these ideas of how I wanted to do things and the brand I wanted to create, and I was just restricted at those platforms.
It does, however, take the personality who can handle running a business and being a financial planner. You know, that’s a lot of hats you have to wear, and some people might just be happier working for a firm, getting a steady paycheck, and not having to worry about hustling to get clients and revenue and managing all the back-end things.
Millennial advisers, I would say, most of the time are more attracted to having their own firm, because it offers that entrepreneurship and freedom that is so valued in this age group. Be prepared, talk to different advisers, explore different models, learn what your skill sets are, where you thrive, and what’s important to you. And if you are going to do it, make sure you have a very strong brand and focus.
I think so much of why I am successful is because I’ve spent a lot of time getting clear about who I want to target and work with, because I am not the adviser for everybody. And that has allowed me to become an expert in this arena.
10. You are about to leave on a month-long retreat. How are you achieving work/life balance?
A lot of planning. Being an entrepreneur and doing what I do on a daily basis, I really need to balance it out and take good care of myself because if I don’t, I’m going to burn out and I’m not going have the energy or desire to continue doing this for the long term.
I don’t believe in work/life balance because it’s never an optimal pie chart. Sometimes you have to be really focused on your family life, other times you have to be really focused on your work. And then other times maybe you’re really focused on yourself and your well-being.
Taking the time off in December is my time to focus on just myself and my well-being because I’ve been so focused on work mode for the past three years, especially since I started the firm. I am doing what I tell my clients to do, which is use my money to live a life that I want.
Making this happen is part of my long-term vision to take sabbaticals, but it’s taken a lot of work. And you have to have the right people on your team. Luckily, I can trust people in my life—my assistant, and my team of advisers—who are going to manage things while I’m away. At the end of the day, I have to also trust myself and trust the universe that it’s all going to work out just fine.
Money is emotional, and we help people on a daily basis with money. If we’re not recharging our own battery, it can become very draining work over the long haul.
Carly Schulaka is editor of the Journal. Email her HERE.
How to Grow Your Financial Planning Business Using Social Media
If you missed Brittney Castro’s education session at the FPA Annual Conference—BE Boston 2015, access an on-demand recording of her presentation and learn how to:
Target your ideal clients on social media and provide a “value” experience for them.
Leverage Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to consistently gain new leads.
Nurture your social media leads to actually convert them into new, paying clients.
Streamline your social media marketing efforts so they don’t control your schedule.
Visit OneFPA.org and click on “Virtual Learning” to find this and dozens of other on-demand education sessions. For the complete FPA Professional Development Online Course Catalog, go to OneFPA.org/PDC/Catalog.