According to a December 2014 Putnam Investments study, 75% of financial advisors use social media for client development, and 66% credit their social media use for gaining new clients. That’s up from 49% in 2013 and represents an average $5.5 million in additional assets.

Not unlike the financial planning business, social media is about building and maintaining relationships. Up-to-date and frequent posts suggest a heightened degree of awareness and engagement about market developments and allow for ongoing dialogue between advisors and clients. Use of social media enables financial advisors to leverage their online networks to communicate with clients in a nonthreatening way.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the primary social media platforms used to reach the two largest growing demographics seeking financial guidance: Millennials and women. Predicted to make up half the US workforce by 2020, Millennials are increasingly using social media to seek investment advice, educate themselves on market trends, find advisors, and evaluate their credentials.

Similarly, women are expected to control more than half ($22 trillion) of U.S. household assets by 2020, a number that is expected to grow due to their increased earning potential and tendency to outlive their spouses. To attract and retain female clients, advisors should know that female investors use social media 12.6% more than male investors, and are 11.5% more likely to connect with advisors on social networks (Finect’s 2014 Investor Social Media Behavior Study).

We encourage advisors to take their online presence seriously. Digital profiles should speak to professional experiences and accomplishments, as well as education. The strongest profiles offer clients and prospects access to financial news and trends and the ability to get questions answered and to communicate with advisors quickly. Once engaged, clients feel more confident in the relationship.

Digital platforms help build strong relationships with clients through targeted communication using a comprehensive social media strategy. Currently, there is a large gap between the percent of investors who interact with their advisors on social media (4%) versus those who want to (52%) (Finect’s 2014 Investor Social Media Study). Financial advisors who are not exploiting these tools are missing an opportunity to better engage and inform existing and prospective clients.