Earlier this year, we shared a blog post on the benefits of social media for financial advisors. Specifically, we discussed these platforms’ potential for connecting with the two fastest growing demographics seeking financial guidance: Millennials and female clients.
Since then, Putnam Investments released the results of its third annual Social Advisor Study, which found that 79% of those surveyed acquired new clients through social media. This is up from 66% in 2014 and 49% in 2013.
American Century Investments’ sixth annual financial professional social media study also revealed that about 43% of respondents saw a return on investment from their use of social media platforms:
- 17% claimed to have acquired at least $1 million in business because of social media, and
- Another 27% said that their use of social media led to the acquisition of a new client or a business referral from an existing client.
These results are achieved when financial firms and advisors focus their social media efforts on building and maintaining relationships and displaying their investment knowledge and experience.
To achieve high levels of success, we suggest taking the following seven steps prior to launching social media accounts:
- Create a social media policy. Before getting started, confer with compliance to establish a social media policy that adheres to social media rules established by the SEC and FINRA. This includes determining an approval process for posts and observing record retention rules. See our May blog post, “Addressing Financial Advisors’ Compliance Concerns Regarding Social Media,” for more information on this topic.
- Identify target audience(s). Who are you trying to reach? This is the crux of all future social media decisions, determining which social platforms are best suited for your efforts, what messages will be the most effective, and the groups/accounts/hashtags you will monitor and engage with.
- Monitor the industry. Based on your selected audience(s), identify and monitor groups, hashtags, and accounts that have followers similar to your desired clientele. Take the time to audit discussions and questions to see what topics are of interest to group members and determine how you can contribute to the conversation with original content.
- Take inventory of competitors’ social media accounts. Competitive analysis is useful for identifying where the bar is set and establishing practices that will surpass it. Consider what content your competitors are posting, the frequency of their activity, and which posts succeed in engaging significant numbers of followers. Identifying which content is getting attention will inform your social media strategy and decisions.
- Review existing content and procedures. Consider your existing content creation habits and procedures. If you’re not in the habit of regularly producing original content and have few procedures in place to review drafted content, you may consider a social media strategy focused on sharing/retweeting third-party industry news and information. However, if you are a member of a firm that sends a monthly newsletter or quarterly commentary, you may consider a more sophisticated social media plan. When first becoming established on social media, it is important to be realistic about what is achievable. Remember, the focus should be on quality over quantity.
- Select social media platforms. Based on the previous four steps – target audience(s), conversation audits, competitive analyses, and content production abilities – you may now determine which social media platforms are best suited to your needs. According to American Century Investments, the most popular platforms used by financial advisors are Facebook (75%), LinkedIn (70%) and Twitter (37%). Each platform is useful for reaching different audiences and communicating varied messages:
- Facebook. Of the three most popular social media platforms used by advisors, Facebook has the largest number of members. Posts should connect issues and topics to audience members’ personal lives and finances.
- LinkedIn. A professional network that should be used to promote products and services to higher net worth individuals.
- Twitter. Valuable for following and communicating news, issues and trending topics. Can help cultivate connections with media and media outlets.
- Set expectations and develop a content posting calendar. Once you have selected your social media platforms, you must set expectations for how often you will post to each platform and develop a system to organize content and hold yourself accountable. For some, this may be as simple as setting a recurring calendar entry that blocks 10-15 minutes every few days to make the task more manageable. For others, it may involve developing an official posting calendar like the one below.
|Time of Day||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
|Monday||Market open and market close||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Tuesday||Midday||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post|
|Wednesday||Afternoon commute||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Thursday||Market open||Share market results from previous month||Discuss topics related to portfolio management||Share white paper/ case study||Take position industry debate/topic|
|Monday||Midday||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Tuesday||Market open||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post|
|Wednesday||Mid-morning||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Thursday||Evening||Share market results from previous month||Discuss topics related to portfolio management||Share white paper/ case study||Take position industry debate/topic|
|Monday||Evening||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Tuesday||Morning commute||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post||Link to blog post|
|Wednesday||Market open and market close||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media||Interact with social media|
|Thursday||Afternoon commute||Share market results from previous month||Discuss topics related to portfolio management||Share white paper/ case study||Take position industry debate/topic|
Once you complete these seven preliminary steps, we recommend subscribing to a social media dashboard such as Hootsuite or Buffer. These information management tools allow you to systematically share social media content across platforms, monitor discussions, track posts, and analyze metrics. Based on these monitoring tools and engagement metrics, you can continue to modify and improve your social media strategy to meet the needs of you audience and grow your audience.