Social media for financial advisers

22 April 2013

With today's proliferation of mobile devices - from smart phones to tablets - social media has been stealing the spotlight away from traditional media and marketing tactics. The question is: can social media be a valuable marketing tool for financial planners?

Yes... if done correctly.

So what is social media?

Social media is the use of web-based platforms to share content, opinions and experiences. Think Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. It allows people to connect with others who share similar interests, and interact quickly and easily online.

Getting started

If you haven't already, start by learning more about the various social media platforms by being a passive user, observing what others do. For example:

  • download Tweet Deck, and begin exploring various topics of interest and following ‘digital influencers';
  • set-up a Twitter account. Even if you're not ready to start sharing content via Twitter, you can follow people or organisations of interest, and gain an understanding of how the platform works and conversations get started. When setting up your Twitter account, select a name that fits logically with your business so you can be easily identified by interested parties; and
  • create your personal profile on LinkedIn and connect with colleagues, associates and clients within your network, helping to raise the profile of your business.

How will social media fit into your overall plan?

The first step is to clarify how social media can help you achieve your business objectives. Avoid jumping into the social media pool without a plan. Your efforts shouldn't be a whim, but rather integrated into your broader business development activities.

When considering your social media goals, make sure they are closely tied to your overall business goals. According to Wealth Professional, an adviser's social media goal should be "to be recognised as a trusted, expert source who provides engaging, useful and relevant information".

Select the right channels

It's important to consider which channels will be the most appropriate for your business. LinkedIn is mostly used for business purposes, whereas Facebook is located at the other end of the spectrum with a high personal usage; Twitter is often situated somewhere in between. If you have a very technical relationship with clients, for example, Facebook might not be the right channel.

Social media is not about creating a single strategy for all channels, but about tailoring your message to suit the channel which gives you access to your target audience. As you wouldn't discuss FOFA with parents at your kids' school via Facebook, likewise, you wouldn't use LinkedIn to share the pictures of your camping trip with work associates.

Create content that is engaging and compliant

Think about what information your audience is likely to want and how well placed you are to provide it. Remember it must be both interesting to them and relevant to your service offer (i.e. being a trusted source of financial planning advice).

Of course you cannot provide personalised advice via social media - only general information, but don't let that get in the way of providing content that is engaging. Include issues important to your clients with which they can identify, e.g. share your views on recent regulatory changes impacting superannuation.

Interactions via social media should be two-way conversations and good content will help to keep the lines of communication open. After all, you want to make it easy for current - and prospective - clients to engage with you. Offer many lightweight interactions, but also focus on quality rather than quantity.

Once you're well on track with your social media strategy and implementation, think about adding links to social channels on your homepage and start cross-promoting the various platforms on which you're active. Kearney Group Financial Services' website, see image below, illustrates one way how to do this.

While advocates of social media praise the merits of it being a free marketing tool, it requires a considered approach and an investment of your time, so keep it in perspective and treat it as simply an additional tool in your marketing kit.

If you found this article of interest, you may also enjoy these Bennelong articles:
Getting your marketing emails read
It's a brave e-world: e-marketing tips for financial advisers
SEO for financial planners
Six website tips for planners

For further reading on social media for financial advisers, please find below articles.
The Financial Brand: Ridiculously simple social media fixes for financial marketers
Money Management: Financial advisers place social media policies
Wealth Professional: Why Twitter is vital to bringing in new financial advice clients

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