Branding, Influencing

10 lessons @ReformedBroker can teach you about social

With a follower count approaching 100,000, Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) is the most followed financial advisor on Twitter. Brown is a prolific blogger and Tweeter who often shoots from the hip. He calls it like he sees it and his followers are drawn to him for that very reason. In a recent interview in Investment News, Brown provides a number of instructive tips for financial professionals looking to leverage social networking.

1. If you do it right, you can build an entire business on the back of your online relationships.

Brown met Barry @Ritholtz online (they both blog and are active on Twitter) and formed Ritholtz Wealth Management. They’ve amassed $160 million in assets under management (according to Brightscope) and recruited a number of team members from online relationships.

2. “If you’re measuring social media on ROI, you already don’t get it.”

Brown’s take on the ROI discussion is spot on so I’ll just quote him:

“It’s not one plus one equals two; the benefits are predominately indirect. It’s impossible to measure, at least mathematically. Twitter has given me a platform and an audience, and it’s opened up a lot of doors for me and allowed me to meet a lot of people I never would have. All the assets that have come to the firm are because people are reading us.”

The guys that obsess on quantifiable ROI from social may just be missing the forest for the trees.

3. There’s room for corporate tweeting and personal social media engagement.

His firm recently launched a corporate account which will be less social and more “broadcast” oriented. The difference with Brown is that he developed a successful personal brand in social media first. Most people and firms come to personal brand building strategies only after corporate social media has run its course.

4. Avoid being overly conversational on Twitter.

This is excellent advice that I also try to live by. No one wants to come to your feed and find mostly conversations that they’re not part of.

5. Fit social into your already busy life.

You make time for things you like to do or feel you must do. Brown advocates a form of downtime multi-tasking: “So if I’m on an elevator and a thought occurs to me, I can send a tweet.” He must spend a lot of time on elevators – or he’s doing something else on his washroom breaks. ☺

6. Creating content (blogging, tweeting, etc.) helps you figure out what you’re thinking.

When you have to write something down coherently, it forces a kind of rigour that helps focus the mind. Rather than distract him from his day-to-day work, Brown explains that his writing helps him clarify his thoughts. And he’s drawn to others who similarly use writing this way. Which begs the question: Why would you deal with someone who didn’t have the ability to articulate their vision clearly and consistently.

7. You can’t outsource your voice on social.

Brown is adamant that you need to be yourself on social. His instincts are correct in steering away from automated social media management services. But I think Brown throws the baby out with the bathwater here. There are some amazing tools (shout out to @Buffer) to help you manage your social sharing and engagement and spread your shares throughout the day. These tools still need to be driven by YOU and the content filtered by you, but distribution can be enhanced through effective scheduling and engagement data.

8. Avoid getting into public spats online.

There are lots of trolls and haters online, but Brown’s advice is to avoid engaging them at all costs. No one ever really wins or loses and both people tend to look bad. His great Quora post on this topic is well worth your time.

9. Pick a social platform and rock it.

There are lots of social platforms and tools to choose from, but Brown has focused on Twitter and achieved incredible results there. Obviously, he likes the format of short, 140-character missives – it suits his way of thinking and engaging. And that’s really the point: pick a platform that you like and a topic you have expertise in – then rock it!

10. Social can be a driving force in any business – but maybe not yours.

There’s no question that effective social engagement can drive financial advisory businesses. The only question is whether you are cut out for social. To quote Brown: “It lends itself to a certain personality type and a certain willingness to be authentic and drop the veneer of “Look at me in my suit.”” Read the full Investment News interview: Tweeting maven Josh Brown approaches 100K followers, explains the business upshot. More on Josh Brown: A financial pundits guide to financial pundits and Breaking Ranks: Former Broker Turns Bomb Thrower.

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