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Financial Advisers Are on Board with Social Media, but Questions Still Linger

The findings of the Putnam Investments 2015 Social Advisor Study, which surveyed more than 800 U.S. financial advisers, point to the fact that social media continues to become an increasingly essential tool for advisers to communicate with their clients and build their book of business. Here are some of the study results:

  • 81 percent of advisers currently use social media for business, up from 75 percent in 2014
  • 40 percent of advisers (vs. 25 percent in 2014) use four or more social networks for business
  • 69 percent of advisers report social media is a significant component of their overall marketing effort—up from 56 percent in 2014
  • 79 percent of advisers report acquiring new clients through social media (up from 66 percent in 2014) with average annual asset gain from such clients standing at $4.6 million

These numbers appear to provide tangible proof that social media has grown to be the most direct path for advisers to reach out and influence their key audiences. However, despite this success, some degree of skepticism among advisers continues to linger. Below, I’ve listed the three most recurring questions financial advisers pose to our firm about social media.

Does Social Media Really Matter?
When confronted with this question, we consistently reply that the answer is debatable. What works for a financial planning practice may not work for a wealth management firm. And, in some cases, social media may not be a choice at all. However, before rejecting it, there are some key factors to be considered:

  • Unlike meeting a prospect face-to-face, or attending a live marketing event, social media interaction does not require travel and the costs associated with it
  • It allows advisers to exhibit knowledge and expertise to an audience beyond her or his established database of contacts and leads
  • It empowers advisers to create a sizable virtual network to develop new business
  • It helps foster conversations about an adviser’s brand
  • It establishes a bridge between an adviser’s website and her or his target audience—a good social media page will drive traffic to the adviser website
  • It enables advisers to position themselves as an expert sources at a negligible cost

How and Where Do I Begin?
Traditionally, the answer to this question has to do with what the adviser is seeking to achieve. Before engaging in social media activities, we recommend that our clients familiarize themselves with what other advisers, journalists and bloggers are doing—for example, the type of topics they cover, the frequency of their posts, the volume and quality of response they receive. This preliminary exercise will enable them to gauge whether or not social media is an effort they “really” want to pursue.

The second step is getting acquainted with a couple of platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. After joining them and establishing suitable profiles, the next action is to create engaging content—topics of compelling interest to the adviser’s core audiences—that includes tips, guidelines and actionable ideas. Then post such content on the adviser’s website and concurrently proceed to “push” it via established social media accounts. Ultimately, your social media engagement should seek to achieve two key strategic goals: 1) engage your audience prompting it to share your expertise and guidance; and 2) direct traffic to your website.

How Can I Handle Compliance?
Traditionally, compliance is advisers’ major deterrent to social media. Often, this is due mainly to their lack of understanding on how to meet social media compliance requirements. Prior to launching into social media interaction, it is crucial that an adviser attains a good understanding of FINRA’s rules governing communication and specifically how they regulate social media activities. FINRA’s guidance, articles, podcasts and videos on this topic abound and are easily found on the Internet. To shield themselves and their firms from legal consequence arising from bad social media interaction, advisers must establish a social media policy—that includes archiving procedures and guidelines—and if needed, seek appropriate legal counsel.

With social media, like with any other type of marketing communication effort, advisers must pay utmost attention that any post, comment, tweet is FINRA compliant. For example, a post or tweet in which an adviser may support a specific stock or bond could represents a “recommendation.” As such, it could be consequently treated as a breach of FINRA’s suitability rule and bear legal consequences for both the adviser and her firm.

Claudio PannunzioClaudio O. Pannunzio
President and Founder
i-Impact Group
Greenwich, Conn.

 

Editor’s Note: Other FPA social media-related content that may be of interest to you include:


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3 Ways to Manage Your Time on Social Media to Get Results

You’ve heard social media marketing is a must. You know you need to engage potential clients in the places where they are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. You understand there is value participating in the social sphere, but you haven’t quite cracked the code on how and where to invest your energy to make it pay off.

Rather than espouse theory on what could work, I want to share exactly what I do. This combination of three ways to engage has returned exponentially to me in direct clients and opportunities I could not have anticipated.

By implementing all three ways outlined below, you will know where to spend your time and gain the most leverage out of your effort:

1: Daily interaction
You’ve been told to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day on social media, and you can have an impact. While I don’t subscribe to this tactic as your only engagement, allocate time each day for commenting, sharing and otherwise participating in the social media ecosystem. Daily interaction is almost always ‘reactive’ as you respond to what others post.

Examples:

  • You attend an industry event and Tweet a photo, tagging others in the shot.
  • You congratulate a client on a recent promotion you read about on LinkedIn.
  • You comment on a post an estate planning attorney shares on her firm’s Facebook page.
  • You “retweet” and “favorite” an article published by a journalist you want to meet
  • You read an article that is spot-on for your target audience and you post an update on your company LinkedIn page.

2: Weekly Sharing
An effective adviser marketing plan starts with weekly content creation or curation aimed specifically at the concerns and aspirations of your target client.

Whether you create a blog post, a video or a podcast, social media expands your distribution pushing your message from the limited traffic of your website out to your social followers. This often overlooked act opens up the number of people who may view, like and share your content. Each time you upload a blog post or publish a new video, be sure to share it across all of your social media accounts.

Examples:

3: Quarterly Campaigns
Proactive sharing of the story you want your target audience to hear comes alive through your quarterly content campaigns. Take a page from the advertising agency media playbook where you carve out a distinct time periods across the year (quarterly works well) where you focus your content on a single theme. Plan and set it up in advance, streamlining the time you invest in the effort.

Here’s how:

  • Select your first topic that you want to share (e.g. The 20 Financial Tasks Middle Managers Must Complete before Retirement)
  • Identify all of the content you already have that fits this topic (blog posts, newsletter articles, write-ups from a financial plan or client email excerpts)
  • Craft new content (think “tips”)
  • Pinpoint the “holes” in your campaign. Find resources, articles, photos, or other professionals who can provide the content. Fill in any remaining blanks with your advice.
  • Break down the content into posts for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or whichever platforms your audiences uses.
  • Set up and schedule the content distribution in advance through Hootsuite (http://www.hootsuite.com) or Buffer (http://www.buffer.com)
  • Announce the campaign at the start of each quarter to let your prospect email list, your clients, and your followers know what to expect.

The quarterly campaign is where you gain leverage in your marketing. You repurpose existing content, you have a reason to craft new content that you can reuse, and you guarantee that you will show up regularly with a message that reinforces what you want your target audience to read or see from you.

When you set up a campaign each quarter, you can rest assured that if your daily interactions fall to every few days, your weekly sharing slips to semi-monthly, you have to deal with the quarter end, or you want to take a vacation, you will have a campaign supporting you in the background.

Sounds like it’s worth the time, right?

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
www.kristinharad.com
implement-now.com
San Francisco

Editor’s Note: Kristin Harad has several great pieces on how to branch out and attract and engage clients virtually, including this one that was published in our March 2015 issue titled, “9 Steps to Building a Client-Attraction Virtual Event.” 

For more educational opportunities, check out our webinar titled “Introduction to LinkedIn for Business,” presented by Susan Catalano. Or register for FPA BE Boston 2015 to meet one-on-one with social media and websites business coach Maggie Crowley of Advisor Websites