Advisorist Podcast – Episode 6: 3 Secrets To Get Affluent Appointments With Social Media


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Hear Amy McIlwain’s top 3 secrets to getting affluent appointments from the most unexpected source. “People with money don’t waste their time scrolling through Facebook and other social networks.” You probably heard this from someone close to you. Luckily for us, this statement is nothing more than an opinion. A wrong opinion, for that matter.

Listen to today’s episode of Advisorist podcast with Amy McIlwain and discover:

  • Why social media is NOT a waste of time for advisors
  • A SIMPLE strategy you can swipe to grow your practice with the most popular social networks
  • Why you need OMNIPRESENCE and how social media is key to cultivating it
  • Why “Content Is King” but the QUEEN holds all the power
  • How to find and attract affluent appointments directly from social media, hassle-free
  • Where so many business owners go WRONG with their social media strategy, so you can steer clear
  • What “Personal Branding” really means, and why you absolutely need to build and maintain your own
  • The importance of a “Scientific” approach to LASTING success in your practice

Social Media Queen” Amy McIlwain is the former Global Industry Principal at Hootsuite, an Amazon Bestseller, and a regular contributor to prestigious outlets including The Wall Street Journal, where she uses her 15 years of immense industry experience to help financial professionals and other entrepreneurs drive revenue, decrease costs, and manage risks with social media.


Note:  This Advisorist Podcast transcript was created in part by computers – Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors…or sentences that just downright don’t seem to make sense!  Please compare to corresponding audio if clarity is needed.

Jeremiah: In today’s episode, Matt interviews a good friend of mine, Amy Mcllwain. You may know Amy as the former global industry principal at Hootsuite, which is the world’s largest social relationship management company with over 13 million users worldwide. My good friend Amy has been on Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC as a social media expert and delivers keynote presentations to fight services organizations around the world. With over 15 years of experience in digital marketing and the founder of financial social media, Amy’s presentations and her wisdom draw on her immense experience in helping fortune 500 banks, financial and insurance companies, and organizations operationalize social media to drive revenue, decrease expenses, and manage risks. She’s been a regular contributor to Investment news, The Wall Street Journal, Online ThinkAdvisor, and in 2014 was named by Life Health Pro as one of the 24 most creative people in insurance. In addition, her book, The Social Advisor: Social Media Secrets of the Financial Industry has been featured as a best seller on Amazon. Here’s Matt Walton with Amy Mcllwain.

Matt: Amy, we are very, very grateful to have you here today at Advisorist. What are you grateful for today?

Amy: Well, grateful to be here, obviously. But beyond that, one of the things I’m most grateful for are the friendships I made throughout my career. I am constantly just amazed at the accomplishments and the inspiration that my friends are putting forward in their businesses, the lives they’re changing, the impact they’re having. So I’m really grateful to just have so many awesome people that I’m surrounded by and have helped me in my career.

Matt: Awesome. What would you say was your number one challenge in your career, your biggest obstacle to overcome?

Amy: I would say one of the biggest obstacles that I needed to overcome is actually asking those friends for help. I feel often as a business owner, you can feel very isolated, but you feel like you need to do this on your own, you need to accomplish these challenges, especially in this day and age of social media where everyone’s just projecting all of the good. It looks like all of this rocket ship going up but the reality, it’s a roller coaster of ups and downs. I think one of the biggest struggles I’ve had is actually admitting when I’m not doing well, and asking for help because that I have an incredible network. So often, you need to put on this mask of perfection when the reality is just asking for help, there’s probably an army of people that are willing to help you. Being able to kind of humbly admit that you’re not great at everything and reach out.

Matt: Are you sure?

Amy: Yes.

Matt: Alright. This is one my favorite questions, what is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever gotten in your career? Everyone has such a varied and wonderful answer, and I’m dying to hear yours.

Amy: The best piece of business advice, I am one that has a million little one liners that I kind of live by. But one of the best pieces is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So many people I talked to have these ideas, and they keep trying to wait for the timing to be perfect and the idea has to be perfect, and everything’s got to come into alignment. But the reality? It’s never going to be perfect. You just need to go and correct as you go. So I’ve kind of put like a marker in place when it’s 80%, that’s good enough to go out because I feel like that last 20% can take all of the time that it took to build the first 80%. So you just need to go and correct as you go.

Matt: Speaking of business advice, if your life were a book, what would its title be?

Amy: Hmm, if my life were a book I think it would be the ‘Wanderlust Entrepreneur’.

Matt: I would love to read that.

Amy: Well, one of the reasons I started my own business to begin with is I wanted to create a lifestyle where I could live and work anywhere in the world. When I first started my business, I achieved that. I spent a few months in Argentina, I was in Costa Rica, I went to Chicago for the summer.

Matt: The most exotic of those 3 places.

Amy: Exactly. But you know, travel is something that’s really important to me, and it has changed my perspective on life. It has taught me so much about business, about myself, and I plan on seeing the world.

Matt: What in particular, and where did you learn the most profound thing in your travels?

Amy: I think there’s so many applications from travel to business. One of the analogies that I like to look at is there’s two ways you can get somewhere. You can catch an airplane and fly directly there and take the shortcut, or you can take the longer route, take the train, take the bus. Both will get you to the same spot but what you’re going to learn by taking that slower route is going to pay dividends in the long run, and will help equip you with new skills for life. Oftentimes, I see that with businesses. You can take the short route and just throw money at the problem and have it go away or you actually take the time to work through that problem. That’s going to really help you learn and be more successful in the long run.

Matt: If you’re like a theme song, what would it be?

Amy: Well, my favorite artists is one that’s not super well known, but he’s absolutely incredible. Michael Franti & Spearhead and one of his songs is it’s good to be alive today. So I feel like that would be my theme song.

Matt: Time to check that. Can we get the licensing rights for that on this podcast to try? Any good jokes for us?

Amy: Good jokes. I’ve got a few cheesy ones if you want to hear that.

Matt: They’re the best .

Amy: I’ll keep the clean ones. Okay. What is round on the ends and high in the middle?

Matt: Round on the ends. Ohio!

Amy: Bingo!

Matt: Yeah. You got another one?

Amy: I’m born in Cincinnati. So grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio girl so a little Ohio joke.

Matt: Are you going back home for the holidays?

Amy: No, my family actually goes down to Florida for the holidays so I’m going to be heading down to Siesta Key and enjoy a little beach time.

Matt: Speaking of travel, you have some big travel plans coming up right? Do you want to talk about that?

Amy: Yes, absolutely. I’m really excited to share with you. So I have a new book coming out called ‘The Social CEO’.

Matt: Congratulations.

Amy: Thank you. It’s about empowering a human business. I’m going to be taking off in a global book tour. So starting in February I’ll be in Southeast Asia and kind of working my way around the globe.

Matt: Fantastic. You live in Colorado, you grew up in Ohio, you holiday in Florida and you go on a global book tour. Best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at and their best dish?

Amy: Best restaurant. Well, being from Cincinnati this isn’t as much a restaurant as it is a Cincinnati Staple Graeter’s Ice Cream. The best ice cream hands down. The chocolate chips are these huge, thick like candy bar chunks of chocolate. They are absolutely incredible. If you’re in Cincinnati, you’ve got to get some graeter’s ice cream,

Matt: What makes it different just besides from the chocolate chips?

Amy: Just like the flavors are incredible, the creaminess, but it’s the chips. The chips are the differentiator, yep.

Matt: Favorite 90’s jam?

Amy: Oh favorite 90’s jam. I actually just went to Dave Matthews.

Matt: Oh! I saw Baby Blue.

Amy: Oh, so great.

Matt: He still got it then.

Amy: Oh yeah. But Dave is always a big picture. I just saw him at Madison Square Garden the other night so it was incredible.

Matt: Awesome. I’m seeing the stones again.

Amy: Oh, you got tickets.

Matt: I found out it’s my Christmas present.

Amy: Amazing.

Matt: Speaking of gifts, what was the last gift you gave someone or gave yourself?

Amy: I recently left Hootsuite where I’ve been working for the past three years and the impressions that some the colleagues really made on me, I’ve become friendships for life, they’re such incredible people. There’s one particular person that just has been so kind and opening his home and would invite us all over for game nights and wine and just open and share everything. He’s got really like high end tastes and it’s just like this great guy. But, he was missing coasters. There was never a single coaster in his apartment.

Matt: With his rings and all his furnitures?

Amy: There weren’t ring on his furniture. I’m sure he clean everything up immediately. But, he never had a coaster.

Matt: What kind of coasters do you give a man who has everything who has coasters?

Amy: You go to one of those cute, adorable little Christmas markets in the season in New York, and I found him a great pair of custom coasters with the New York skyline.

Matt: Very cool.

Amy: That was my kind of like goodbye thank you gift to to that individual.

Matt: Advisorist is all about family, of course., so who are you closest to in your family and why?

Amy: Who am I closest to my family? You know, I’d have to say my mom. Like my mom has just been an incredible support system and an influence for my life, especially when you go out on your own as an entrepreneur like there’s extreme highs and extreme lows. My mom always believed in me, stood by my side, and was the voice of reason at times.

Matt: What were some of her reasonings? What were some of the advice that she gave you aside from being there for you? What were some things she told you that stuck with you for life?

Amy: Well, some of things, I need to take care of myself first. I need to be client number one, instead of just kind of giving and giving and giving. Make sure I take the time to take care of myself because if I’m not whole then I can’t be helping others. That really stood by me.

Matt: Got a phone of course. Favorite app? Business and pleasure.

Amy: Instagram, hands down.

Matt: Really?

Amy: Oh, yeah.

Matt: You take pictures of your food or…?

Amy: I’ve been taking pictures of us filming this.

Matt: Is that right? We’re already on it?

Amy: Yeah. You’re already on my on my Instagram story.

Matt: How are you doing that?

Amy: My Instagram handle is @SocialAmy. I would encourage you to follow me on Instagram.

Matt: I will.

Amy: You can see my adventures around the world as I embark on this global book tour. Yes, I just love kind of sharing things and then I love also watching other people’s stories, its inspiration. It also allows me to stay connected to those that if I’m not in the same city, it allows me to stay up to date on what’s going on in their life, what’s important to them.

Matt: So you use Social Media without question more of a connecter then.

Amy: Oh, 100%. The whole reason I got started on Social Media is I remember I studied abroad in Australia back in 2002 and I got back from Australia and I met these really amazing Norwegian friends and they were living in Oslo, but they weren’t on MySpace because we’re all MySpace back in the day. I was like, “Gosh, dang it. Like I don’t want to have to sign up for this stupid Facebook thing, just so I can stay in touch with you guys. Why don’t you just get on MySpace like everybody else?” I think we know where that story went. But sure enough, I signed up for Facebook back in like 2004 specifically to stay in touch with my Norwegian friends.

Matt: You’re still friends today.

Amy: Oh, absolutely. That’s, again, what I really love about my job as being able to kind of travel and I speak a lot of conferences and events around the world. So this late year, I was actually in Stockholm, and I was in Copenhagen. So I had the opportunity I popped into Norway, I saw another good friend in Sweden, but it’s these relationships. And these are relationships that probably would have fizzled off and not existed had social media not been around. Because of social media, I feel more connected to them, I can stay in contact with them. If this were back in the day of just pen pals writing letters, these friendships would have likely fallen off.

Matt: And it’s been instrumental in your business?

Amy: Instrumental. I started financial social media at Digital Agency back in 2010. And at first it was little me working on the kitchen, we all probably have that story when we started out. I grew that company to 15 employees over the course of four years. It was all through social media, by logging and sharing content, and subject matter expertise. I then a wrote a couple books and being able to distribute that content is key. So oftentimes, you’ll hear content is king but distribution is queen. She’s the one that wears the pants. You can have all the great content in the world but if no one hears it, it’s not going to do anything for you.

Matt: That is great. One of the core values at Advisorist is ‘CAN I’. Constant and Never Ending Improvement. What are some of the tools and tactics you’ve picked up over the years that applies in that context?

Amy: When it comes to continuing to grow your business is you always need to stay on top of the latest trends. So like I said, I’ve helped tens of thousands of advisors get started on social media over the past decade. I believe it’s been 10 years. It’s been over 10 years, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of advisors on social media and some of the misconceptions that you will hear from some of the insurance carriers or broker dealers out there, “Oh, social media is for the young people. Our advisors are typically an older demographic 45 to 65. That’s not going to be for them. It’s just for the young advisors.” So what I can tell you is of all the advisors I’ve worked with, it’s not the young advisors that are flocking to social media, it’s the top advisors. Because the top advisors know if they’re going to stay on top, and stay at the top of their game that they need to constantly stay curious and be investing in and at least exploring the newest tools, technologies, products, things out there, or someone is going to come from behind. So I think that’s a big thing, stay curious and don’t get kind of stuck in a rut of ‘this is the way I’ve always done it’ because things change. I remember even getting into this business and financial services back in 2003 and some people would say, “Oh, email. I’m not going to do this email thing. My clients are seniors. They’re not going to respond to an email.” Could you imagine saying that today? Communication has shifted again and it’s happening twice as fast. It’s time to get on board with using technologies and communication and social is the primary way we communicate in today’s digital world. So unless you plan on retiring in the next few years, you really need to get on board with us.

Matt: Digging a little further into the tactical nature of what it is we’re here to talk about, nothing we’re big on is dropping the honey. So what kind of ways have you discovered to make your interactions, your business, your platform sweeter?

Amy: I’m going to go back to social media. I mean, social media, again, is the primary way we communicate in today’s digital world. It’s not just about pushing things out there, that’s a big misconception that’s it’s an advertising platform where we’re taking this one way monologue communication and broadcasting it out to the world. Social media is about relationships, it’s about building trust, it’s about connecting so taking the time to listen first and listening on social media equates to following. So a tactical thing that I recommend advisors or any sales people take away is look at your LinkedIn connections, and go in. Anyone that you’re connected to connect with your clients and then when you’re connected with them, you can see all of their second degree connections. So rather than asking for an introduction to someone they know, I mean, we all go through the whole referral wheel process when we first get started and things like that. So instead of just thinking of people in buckets, actually go in and look at the names of these people. One advisor I know has doubled his referrals simply by connecting with his clients and then after the meeting, he goes in and he says, “Mr. client, we’re connected on LinkedIn. I see you also know Sandy, and Mary, I think I might be able to help them because of XYZ. Would you be open to making an introduction?”, and it’s that simple.

Matt: Or through email.

Amy: Through LinkedIn, no, that is a face to face conversation. So before we meet, I would look through your LinkedIn profile and then I could see “Oh, look, we know Paul Feldman in common. Then automatically, you connect or he connects with you or be like, “Oh, my goodness, these two people, I’ve been dying to meet them, would you be open to making an introduction?” So I think that’s a misconception. Oftentimes, we tend to think in online world and offline world but we really need to be blending the two together. It’s all communication. So how do we leverage that knowledge that we’re obtaining online for offline conversations, offline appointments, offline phone calls?

Matt: Do you have any nuggets, tricks of the trade that been working great for you these days that you’d like to share with some of our listeners?

Amy: Yeah. A great trick for advisors, again, leveraging social media to really stay top of mind for those VIP people that they’re trying to connect with, kind of get around that gatekeeper is reaching out using LinkedIn InMails. So sending messages to these people directly or on Twitter, this is a little trick that I do. In my book, I interviewed a number of very high level CEOs and people are like, “Amy, how did you how did you get an interview with that CEO?” Well, in Twitter. I subscribed to notifications for anytime they sent out a tweet. So every time they sent out a tweet, I got notification on my phone. I was the first person to like it, and they start to see my name because these are their own personal social handles. Someone isn’t managing them for them. So they start to see my name and then once they become familiar with me, I might send them a note. Let him know I’m working on a book and sure enough, I start to get responses. So it’s about turning yourself from a stranger into them becoming a consumer of your content, and ultimately a client.

Matt: Until you finish writing wanderlust entrepreneur, we do have a book that’s about to come out that you have.

Amy: Yes.

Matt: We’re just talking about that. So I want to give you the soapbox now, and give you the chance to say anything you want to our listeners about the book, about their careers, about life in general.

Amy: So my new book is called ‘The Social CEO: Empowering a Human Business’. The reality today is there’s a study from Weber Shandwick that says that 50% of a company’s reputation is based on the reputation of the CEO. So the company’s reputation is based on the reputation of the CEO. What CEOs are doing today is rather than allowing that reputation to be controlled by third party media, CNBC, the newspapers, radio, rather than letting of them control their voice, they’re taking ownership of their own voice, and leveraging social as a tool to communicate not simply with the public investors and clients, but also their employees. That’s a big part of it as well is CEOs see the opportunity to step away from the ivory tower and show this human side of themselves. This ever competing job market, Millennials today, they want to go and they want to work for the sexy tech startup companies. They don’t want to go into banking and insurance. So I think this is a real opportunity to show off what this industry is. We’re not these bad guys. We’re helping families and we’re helping with retirement savings, insurance, all this great stuff. So tell the story, talk about the lifestyle it allows you to have. A big part of it is how do we again attract that next generation of talent? And then how do we scale that throughout the business? So beyond the social CEO, how do we empower a social Salesforce amplified through employee advocates and really unlock digital transformation across the organization?

Matt: This strikes me and it’s so important right now because in a way, in the gig economy, all of us are own CEOs of our little businesses, our little gigs, our lives. We are certainly social, we are putting and we have a label and a brand. I say we all have our own little cable networks now. So speak a little bit more about why today this matters more than ever,

Amy: You hit the nail on the head. We are our own personal brand. We are our own media station in the palm of our hands with our smartphone. We have the ability to broadcast messages to millions and we can control this message. So what do we want to tell the world? What message do we want to put out there? For me personally, my personal brand is entrepreneur, social connector and traveler. Traveling is a side. It has nothing to do with the business side of things but I love to travel. I post pictures of the Galapagos or Glass Sioux Falls, wherever I’m at in the world. I have people come up to me at conferences, “Oh, my gosh, Amy. I’ve been following you on social and I’ve always wanted to go the Galapagos. Tell me about it.” So it really allows me to connect in a more human and authentic way. So you’re your own storyteller. So again, with those three key pillars for me, it’s entrepreneur, social connector and traveler, not just randomly taking pictures, my food and posting it online unless I’m having paella and steak.

Matt: There you go. So in show business, if you’re pitching a movie, you want to say it’s a cross between this and this. It’s Jurassic Park meets Driving Miss Daisy, right? Right away, you know exactly what that movie is. Okay, you may not get it but you know what that movie is. So it strikes me that your triangle approach to your personal brand is very much similar. How? What advice could you give people who are struggling to find their pitch, their brand, their personal triangle of traits.

Amy: I would recommend an advisor, again, really kind of think about two things they’re known for business wise. Maybe it’s like a reason they got into the business. Maybe there’s some kind of personal connection there but then also personal side. Again, peel off that layer. You don’t have to be business business business all the time. That’s why we have client appreciation events, and we take them golfing and we do these things, we show the human side of us. So are you an avid golfer? Are you a Bears fan? Do you collect antique automobiles? A huge scuba diver? Think about what these things are and don’t be afraid to share that personal side of your life.

Matt: Another Advisorist core value is ‘Strong mind, strong body’. What are some of the hacks that you’ve learned and have applied that have been working well for you?

Amy: This is kind of a two part approach to a couple hacks I figured out. The first one was this concept of power naps.

Matt: Power naps.

Amy: I think I read somewhere that if you sleep between 20 to 40 minutes, it’s like a specific window. It’s like sleeping two to three extra hours in the day, and I am constantly on the go. I’m flying on airplanes, I’ll land for a conference, but then I have a dinner to go out to and I just crash if I don’t have a power nap. So I’ve really kind of trained myself to take these 20 to 40 minute power naps. And it has been an absolute game changer. I’ve been doing that for about decade. Part two of what has really helped with the one of the hard things was always falling asleep. I couldn’t fall asleep. So about three or four years ago, I discovered meditation. Listening to this meditation app on my phone, I have listened to it at least 300 times I’ve only not fallen asleep twice. It’s amazing.

Matt: Can you tell us about the app?

Amy: It’s called rest and relax. It’s one of this free meditation apps. Just meditation in general has really helped me as well quiet my mind as I’m sure a lot of us are that type A personality. There’s constantly like boom, boom, boom, like ideas, ideas, ideas, going through our head. So kind of practicing the skills to just kind of quiet your mind, take a deep breath, and be present has really been instrumental for me.

Matt: Another core value we have is ‘CAN I’, Constant and Never Ending Improvement. How are you showing ‘Can I’ in your personal or business life?

Amy: Stay curious. Always seeking new things, exploring new things, push yourself beyond your limits, beyond your boundaries, put yourself in situations where you feel uncomfortable, stretch yourself. So constantly, whether it’s traveling to a new country, learning a new language sitting down for a cuisine that you haven’t had before. There’s all sorts of ways to continue to learn and educate yourself and expand your mind.

Matt: So driving towards the strange and unknown way has been helpful for you.

Amy: Yep.

Matt: This is our favorite little scenario we set up for each guest. You’ve lost everything. All you have left is $500, your laptop, your insurance license, and 30 days. How do you reboot your life? How do you reboot your business?

Amy: Network network network.

Matt: Go on.

Amy: One of the my other little sayings that I live by is your network is your net worth. So I would get out there and start meeting and connecting to people but bringing those people into my online community too. So leveraging social media, creating content, I cannot emphasize the importance of creating a blog, whether it’s written blog, or even video blog, or a podcast. It’s about putting out this thought leadership content. So any of my friends that are starting businesses, I tell them that’s where they need to start. They need to start with a blog and creating consistent regular content, sharing that content because that’s going to be a differentiator. It’s going to keep you top of mind for money and motion events and it’s going to really differentiate you from every other advisor out there.

Matt: Any final words? Anything else you’d like to say before we say goodbye? Listen. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a joy to talk to you. We’ve gotten so many wonderful bits of advice. I can’t wait to see you next week.

Amy: Yeah, sounds awesome.

Matt: Good luck traveling. Be safe, please.

Amy: Yes, thank you.

For more strategies and tactics, join our exclusive community of insurance and financial advisors at

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah is the founder and CEO of Advisorist® and is a 23-time award winning financial marketer, a TED speaker and philanthropist. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNN, and Worth. His work has generated over $2 million insurance leads and helped advisors in over 51 countries generate over $300 million in sales commissions. He is the author of the best selling book, SHIFT.

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