August 21, 2012

One in Five Advisors Add New Clients With Social Media

Content, not compliance, advisors’ top concern

Nearly one in five advisors say they’ve added a new client as a result of their social media marketing efforts, an SEI Quick Poll released Wednesday found.

Advisors are using blogs and LinkedIn with great success, John Anderson, head of practice management for SEI, told AdvisorOne on Tuesday.

Advisors don’t need to limit their use of social media to market commentary and updates about the S&P, Anderson said. “People are putting their personality out there.” Investors are less trusting and ”want to get to know advisors and interact in a positive way.”

Anderson noted that in spite of advisors’ success coming from personal interactions, Facebook may be too far in that direction. “Facebook is seen as too personal by many,” he said. “Things may be different down the road,” but for now a blog, website and LinkedIn profile are the most common platforms he sees advisors using.

Social media usage is relatively high; almost 80% say they have some business presence on a social media site, although nearly a quarter say they are only mildly active. Still, 94% say they will increase their social media usage in the next year.

Age plays a role in how advisors use social media as well as which platform they use. Gen X and Gen Y advisors are more comfortable with Facebook, and some advisors are starting to “tiptoe into Twitter.”

John Anderson, SEI

“They’re not as scared of it,” Anderson (left) said. Younger advisors are using Facebook for personal use and relationship building, whereas late-stage boomers use it as a tool for producing information like market updates, he added.

Those “personal” updates don’t have to be an advisor’s kids or favorite movies. Anderson recalled an advisor who told him he takes photos when he goes to conferences or events and shares them on his Facebook page. This shows clients that the advisor is working for them, even when he’s not seeing them, Anderson said.

Surprisingly, when asked what their biggest challenge or concern was regarding social media, compliance was not the top concern. More than a third of respondents said “Coming up with frequent and relevant content” was their biggest difficulty. Compliance-related issues aren’t completely out of the picture. Thirty percent of advisors' “broker-dealer” concerns posed a problem, and 15% said they were worried about the “future regulatory environment.” 

“Advisors are saying, ‘We know we have to be a part of this, and our broker-dealer is allowing us,’ and they’re more accepting,” Anderson said. As advisors become more familiar with what regulators expect of them regarding social media, their new hurdle is what to say.

“That’s their next big crutch,” Anderson said. He adds that advisors who freeze up looking at a blank status update may be “thinking too big. Clients want to see what you do on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “They want to see what you’re reading. You’re not writing content, you’re providing links.”

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