Branding, Influencing, Uncategorized

Understanding social media networks for financial advisors

On Nov. 9, 2011, I did a webinar for Accretive Advisor about understanding trends in social media and key strategies that can be used to build trust and credibility online. (Recorded webinar is available here.)

Over 200 people tuned in for the webinar and there were a number of questions that we couldn’t respond to in the allotted time.

Here are the presentation slides and below are the responses to the questions raised during the presentation.

Questions and answers from the webinar

Q. What is it about content that makes it so important to the social media discussion?

A. Content is what people consume, create and curate in social media. We read an article (consume content) and comment on it (create content), then we share the fact that it was a great article with our friends, followers and connections (curate content). The content can be an article, a video, a picture or a cool graphic. Content is is how we communicate our values and beliefs, how we understand the world around us and how we come to identify who influences us.

Q. Are there any books you recommend that I can read on the subject?

A. There are so many good books out there on social media and it’s impact on society and culture. Of the one’s I’ve read, I like:

  • The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
  • Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
  • Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel
  • Micromarketing by Greg Verdina
  • The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith

Q. Are there statistics available that show that prospects seek out information on new financial advisors? Until now we’ve been led to believe that they would prefer to ask a friend.

A. There is data on this, but I am having trouble putting my finger on it right now. So I will answer this way. On the one hand, I believe people in older age groups rely more heavily on word of mouth referrals from their peers than do people in younger groups. The fact is that younger demographics have access to far more information about their investments and the investment climate via online tools and resources than ever before. Less and less of these younger generation investors feel that a financial advisor is the best source of investment information, especially with all the information options at their disposal online. Having said that, it is my believe that social media technologies are extensions and enhancements of word of mouth networks. So, whereas word of mouth networks of the past would have been limited to immediate social circles, the word of mouth network of the future is geographically wider and not limited to the people you “know”.

Q. How often should you tweet or update your social media platforms?

A. This is highly subjective and related to the time you have available and your objectives. Let’s take Twitter as an example. People check into Twitter periodically through the day, so if you Tweet once a day you are likely to have many followers that miss your message. Tweeting several times throughout the day increases the likelihood that more of your followers will see it. Plus, Twitter is conversational and people will respond and comment. So you need to be prepared to reply and engage in conversations as they arise. Twitter is one of those tools that you need to work into your daily life at various times throughout the day. This does not necessarily apply to LinkedIn or Facebook which each have their own dynamic.

Q. Compliance doesn’t allow us to maintain a Twitter or Facebook profile – only LinkedIn. How do we overcome this?

A. Twitter can be used to follow people that influence you and it can be used to send outbound messages. As an inbound information feed, Twitter can be a very useful and convenient way to keep track of developments in your area of expertise. Using Twitter as an inbound information collection tool has no compliance implications whatsoever.

Q. This seems like a lot of work and we don’t have a lot of support, so how do I leverage social media to bring in new clients effectively?

A. Social media is simply another way to connect with and interact with people – clients and prospects, colleagues and peers. It’s a new way of interacting, so there is a learning curve which can make it seem like a lot of work at first. It is often said that it’s easier to keep a client than find a new one. Social media is perhaps most effectively used to enrich and deepen relationships with existing clients. If this is done effectively, it will lead to greater intimacy with your clients and what’s going on in their world. This can often bring you into contact with new prospects who share similar interests to you and your clients. In the end, social media done effectively will almost certainly lead to good old-fashioned referrals.

Q. If my clients are older will social media work? What types of social media should we use?

A. Don’t assume that clients are or are not interested in social media channels of communication based on their age alone. That kind of ageism serves no one’s interests. Ask your clients about their social media use when you see them. Note their responses and start building a sense of what tools people are using. You may be surprised by what you find.

Q. How do you deal with the “real time issue” in a compliance dependent business, where all info must be approved before being published?

A. This is one of the hardest issues to address in the regulated social media world. However, real time conversations occur one-on-one between advisors and clients every day and they are not recorded for compliance purposes. The good news is that virtually everything that goes on in social media channels is trackable, archivable and retrievable. If advisors are well trained and conduct themselves professionally in a social media setting, compliance monitoring should be easier, not harder.

Q. Is it ok not to share in Twitter?

You should use the tools that make the most sense to you. There is no rule that says everyone has to use Twitter. LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for sharing information and making important professional connections. Use it.


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