The Advisor's Crash Course on Social Media

Why You Should be Using Social Media

In a recent survey of over 800 advisors, researchers found that 81% of advisors are using social media for business. This figure has steadily increased year over year. Nowadays, about 56% of advisors claim that social media plays a significant role in their marketing efforts.

But it’s not just that advisors are using social media, they’re also using multiple streams on social media to get the most out of it. About 40% of advisors now use four or more different social networks to grow their business. It makes sense that advisors are putting a larger emphasis on social media, as 50% claim they’ve successfully used social media to convert a prospect into a client.

But beyond converting prospects, social media offers your firm many other benefits including:

  • Increased exposure: Your blogs, posts, tweets, and video/photo uploads increase your search engine ranking, meaning more hits for your website.
  • Fosters trust: In a profession where trust and communication are key, social media can help you connect with clients. Social networking opens up a new two-way, real-time communication stream which can enhance relationships with clients and prospects alike.
  • Additional impact: Social media gives you a public presence beyond your firm’s website. This gives you an additional platform where you can promote your services and expertise.
  • Establish expertise: Social media gives you somewhere to post original content such as blog posts, articles, and commentary. This allows you to demonstrate your expertise in the field and establish thought leadership.
  • Stay in-the-know: Social media sites can help you keep up with professional news and industry trends, connecting you with up-to-the-minute information.
  • Connect with other professionals: You can use social media to build a network of other financial professionals. You can then leverage this network to share financial strategies and business ideas and discuss industry trends.

The Different Social Media Networks

So you want to get started with social media (or improve what you’re already doing), but where to start? There are dozens, if not hundreds, of social media sites out there. But the good news is, there’s really only three that you need to worry about.

The big three include LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Between these three, you’ll be able to reach almost every social media user. But it’s important to know, each network is unique and serves a specific purpose for advisors.

LinkedIn: Used to increase your referral network and connect with other financial professionals.
Facebook: Used to enhance relationships with clients and build your professional brand.
Twitter: Used to establish thought leadership and stay up-to-date on industry news.

Once you recognize that the aim of each network is a bit unique, it's easier to tailor your content to meet your social media goals.

LinkedIn Tips

LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional networking site. LinkedIn is, by far, the most popular social media site among financial planners, advisors, and other financial professionals. It’s primarily used to maintain relationships with colleagues and share knowledge and industry insights. Some pointers to keep in mind while using LinkedIn include:

  • Display your certifications: In your LinkedIn profile, there’s a dedicated spot to list your professional certifications. Utilize this space! Prospective clients may view your LinkedIn profile, and will want to see your accreditation.
  • Keep your profile up-to-date: Make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date so colleagues and prospective clients receive relevant information about your certifications and firm.
  • Connect with colleagues, business acquaintances, and other professionals you want to maintain a relationship with: LinkedIn is meant for making and maintaining connections, so make good use of this! LinkedIn will use your email contacts to suggest potential connections. Only connect with people you know, but remember that the more connections you have the more potential opportunities you can leverage.
  • Join groups: LinkedIn has “groups” which are smaller networks of individuals with similar interests. There are many groups for financial professionals even groups specifically for advisors! Take advantage of groups by checking out the groups that your connections are a part of.

Facebook Tips

Facebook is a social media site which lets users create a profile and share photos, videos, and messages with their followers. Businesses often utilize Facebook to create a business page which promotes their product/service, increases brand awareness, and allows them to interact directly with customers/clients. Here are some tips to keep in mind when using Facebook:

  • Create a business page separate from your personal Facebook account: Facebook allows you to create a fan page for businesses, take advantage of this!
  • Upload a profile picture and cover photo consistent with your firm’s branding: Make sure to upload your firm’s logo to your fan page. And don’t use any images that are inconsistent with your firm’s overall branding. Consistency is key!
  • Share posts/articles by yourself and others than your Facebook audience will find useful: Facebook is all about sharing information. So, make sure to share articles, blog posts, videos, and photos that you think your audience will find interesting and useful.
  • Upload photos/videos for your audience to engage with: Videos and photos are the most-shared type of content on Facebook. While links to articles are great, try mixing it up and incorporating photos and videos when possible.

Twitter Tips

Twitter is a microblogging website which allows users to “Tweet” short messages of 140 characters or less. Twitter users can use Tweets to connect with other users and engage in ongoing conversations. Check out these Twitter tips:

  • Use Hashtags: Use hashtags, when appropriate. Using an excessive amount of hashtags can degrade the quality of your posts and show that you’re not an experienced Twitter user. Instead, use them sparingly only when they are relevant to conversations going on around Twitter. For example, check out the “Trends” panel on the left side of your Twitter feed. You’ll see the most popular hashtags of the day, and can use these to join in on an ongoing conversation.
  • Use @mentions to start a conversation or reply to others: Remember that Twitter is meant to be interactive, so using the “@” symbol to bring other users into a conversation is a great idea. Why not ask an industry thought leader what they think about your newest blog post? There are many ways to leverage conversations in Twitter to increase your content’s engagement.
  • Retweet people: Retweet news sources/other financial professionals when you think their content would be useful to your follows. Since Twitter is all about interaction, retweeting other users creates a more dynamic experience for your followers. Not to mention it takes some of the pressure off you to constantly create new content!
  • User shorter messages: Although Twitter allows for messages up to 140 characters, the shorter the message the better! Shorter messages are more likely to attract attention and promote interaction.
  • Follow people: To make sure that your Twitter feed is packed with relevant industry news follow lots of your colleagues, industry leaders, and your favorite news sources. Chances are, if you have a website you frequent or a new station you rely on, they probably have a Twitter account you can follow too.

Social Media Best Practices

Here are some general social media best practices that you can follow, no matter what site you’re on:

  • Define a purpose/goal: Create a social media goal for your firm so you can focus your effort on meeting this goal. Creating a goal for each site you’re going to use can be especially helpful. For example: increase brand awareness by growing our fan page “likes” on Facebook. Or: grow my referral network by connecting with other financial professionals on LinkedIn.
  • Check out what other people are doing: If you’re new to a specific social media site, don’t start posting immediately. First, take some time to check out what other users are posting and sharing on the site.
  • Consistent branding: No matter which social media sites you’re on, make sure that your branding is consistent. This means using your firm’s logo and other branded elements across all sites.
  • Build a large network: Social media is meant to be well, social! So, connect with people, potential resources, and authority figures in your industry. The larger network you can create, the better.
  • Don’t comment on financial strategies/products: Although interacting on social media is important, take care not to comment on any specific financial strategies or products. This could be misinterpreted as a recommendation, and trigger a fiduciary duty.
  • Balance is key: When creating your posts make sure to maintain a mixture of self-promotion, educational resources, and sharing other people’s content. A little self-promotion is fine, but try to focus more on sharing valuable resources with your followers.
  • Social media is social: You shouldn’t just spend time creating your own posts, but also interacting with other people’s posts/content. Try commenting on something you found interesting, or sharing a great blog post written by one of your colleagues.
  • Be relevant: Make sure you’re sharing interesting, relevant content to keep your followers engaged. Check out our tips on how to be relevant on social media below.

How to be Relevant

The key to effectively utilizing social media is to share interesting, relevant content. This could include anything from videos to blog posts, to white papers, to case studies, etc. Basically, anything that solves a problem or creates awareness about an industry hot topic is good. Here are some tips to help you stay relevant on social media:

  • Share links to website updates, featured articles in the company newsletter, and new blog posts
  • Comment on daily news/events
  • Share your perspective as an advisor, highlighting issues clients should discuss with a financial professional
  • Provide general information about financial/retirement planning
  • Pose a question to generate conversation around a specific topic
  • Utilize multimedia like video, audio, or photos to help your posts stand out

Social Media Management Software

Just like you use technology to streamline other parts of your firm’s operations, technology can help you manage your firm’s social media too. Check some of our must-have social media tech tools:

Link Shortening Tool

Have you ever noticed that the URLs on many of your favorite webpages are very long? Sharing a 1,000 character URL in your social media posts not only looks clunky, it also takes up valuable character space! So the next time you want to share a great article, utilize a link shortening tool first. This tool will cut any URL to 20 characters in a matter of seconds. This will make your content even more shareable. For link shortening, we recommend:

Goo.gl
Bitly

Social Media Scheduling

As a busy advisor, it may not be practical for you to interact with social media on a daily basis. This is where a social media scheduling tool comes in! A scheduling tool allows you to schedule posts to all of your social media networks in advance. This helps you maintain a consistent stream of posts, without the hassle of day-to-day social media management. Check out:

Hootsuite 
Buffer 

Social Media Archiving

As an advisor, it’s important to maintain an archive of social media posts for compliance reasons. While this may be difficult to do manually, it’s easily done with an automated solution. Some options include:

Smarsh
ArchiveSocial

Compliance Issues

Both the SEC and FINRA have published guidelines for social media activity. Additionally, individual firms may have their own social media policies as well. The following documents from the SEC and FINRA may help you navigate any potential compliance issues when it comes to social media.

SEC Risk Alert: Investment Adviser Use of Social Media 

FINRA Regulatory Notice 11-39: Guidance on Social Networking
Websites and Business Communications

FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06: Guidance on Blogs and Social
Networking Web Sites

Disclaimer: Before using any social media network, check with your compliance department for guidance on any regulatory or company-specific requirements.

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