The usage of social media among financial advisors has dramatically surged in recent years.
While the financial services industry was slow to adopt social media in large part due to industry regulations and compliance hurdles, usage has increased at an incredible pace and it has become a regular business-building and marketing norm for the majority of advisors today.
According to Putnam Investment’s 2016 survey, not only are 85% of financial advisors using social media for business purposes now, but also 80% of advisors reported acquiring new clients. In fact, these advisors have reported a median gain of $1.9 million via social media outlets.
It wasn’t so long ago that advisors were not “liking” and tweeting as they do now. If you are in the minority that hasn’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, the time is now to get familiar with your firm’s social media compliance policies because your competitors are obtaining real results from their efforts.
Real Business Metrics
Business metrics from social media usage in the past were mostly qualitative. Now there are measured results to report.
According to the survey mentioned previously, 56% of advisors say social media has increased their business-building efficiency a great deal and 18% say it has cut down on their traditional offline business-building activities. Furthermore, 85% of advisors say usage of social media has shortened their closing rate compared to traditional approaches.
Putnam’s research also reports advisors no longer are considering time focused on social media usage as separate from traditional business development activities, and indicates hours spent by investors on social and traditional networking activities are about equal, averaging 10 hours a week each.
While LinkedIn continues to be the principal social platform for most advisors, both Facebook and Twitter are increasing in usage.
LinkedIn remains largely used by advisors for prospecting and finding new clients. A report published by HootSuite on 2017 social media trends indicates that financial advisors should utilize LinkedIn’s content platform to share expert advice, as well as to share blog posts and engage with clients.
The research study published by Putnam found that advisors mastering the usage of advanced LinkedIn features saw significant gains in comparison with advisors who only stick with the basic offerings of LinkedIn.
Financial advisors should move beyond simply reading content on LinkedIn to actively engaging on LinkedIn with activities such as publishing original content (unless you are restricted to an approved content library by your firm), paying for content placement and engaging with prospects.
Social media expert Bruce Johnston focuses on helping advisors build their social presence. He suggests advisors can significantly increase their social footprint by engaging in a LinkedIn routine every day for just nine minutes a day. Among some of his top tips: always keep your profile up to date, like at least three things on your LinkedIn wall daily and post at least once a day. LinkedIn suggests posting once a day or at least 20 times per month. This will touch 60% of your connections.
Johnston also recommends connecting with your existing clients, with your clients’ children, and then with people you know and people you do business with.
Facebook is continuing to grow as primary social platform for advisors and is largely used to keep up with both existing and new clients.
Hootsuite says more advisors are combining their LinkedIn and Facebook strategies together and building their networks and sharing content on both social platforms. Hootsuite’s report encourages advisors to consider paid social media ads, indicating they are simple to create, easy to track and can reach a specific target audience.
Most research suggests aiming to post on Facebook once a day. It is wise to keep your Facebook posts 80% business focused and 20% personal content that is in line with your business brand. As a word of caution, if you are permitted to post content outside of your firm’s pre-approved material, be sure to keep your business brand in mind. Before sharing content, remember to thoroughly read it and use well-known media outlets.
While Putnam’s research found only 12% of advisors are using Twitter as their primary social media platform, Hootsuite’s report says that cutting-edge financial advisors are using it to build upon their brands, as well as distribute and share content.
Since Twitter is indexed by Google, it makes usage attractive to increase local discovery in search engines. Hootsuite reports the next step for advisors should be to take advantage of Twitter’s real-time focus by publishing videos, sharing updates from industry conferences and “boosting organic reach” with paid Twitter ads.
When using Twitter, consider selecting a handle that is short and recognizable. Keep in mind that your firm may require you to incorporate your firm’s name in the handle.
Due to the sheer volume of posts on Twitter per minute, consider tweeting three to six times a day as a general guideline if you are looking to improve your overall engagement. It is also a good practice to analyze your followers’ responsiveness to your posts and schedule your tweets at the most engaging time. If you work for a larger firm, your firm may provide a tool to help you with this. You also definitely want to consider incorporating pictures when you tweet, as images also generally improve your engagement with followers.
Since compliance measures are well established, as well as accommodating now, the obstacles financial advisors once faced when it comes to using social media as a business-building and marketing tool are no longer an issue.
Advisors have gone social in a major way in both usage and sophistication. If you still find yourself on the sidelines, with around 2.3 billion users of social media worldwide your target market is most certainly using social media. Chances are your current clients and prospects are looking for you, so make your social presence known today.