A panel on advisors and social media organized by SIFMA, which called the session a “deep dive,” illustrates just how diverse advisors’ tactics have to be when it comes to staying relevant online. In fact, the SIFMA session — held in San Francisco on Thursday — was more like a medley-swimming meet, as the reps explained all the different online strategies they have to master.
Take Lynn Ballou, CFP and managing partner of Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors in Lafayette, Calif., which is affiliated with LPL Financial (LPLA). “I have five areas to cross-pollinate,” Ballou said about her communications strategy.
This work entails driving traffic to the group’s webpage, writing a lifestyle blog and using social media (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to save time on other client communications.
But she also writes a personal finance column in a local paper once a quarter and does TV appearances and radio interviews to drive traffic to her online sites and to group. This high-profile media work, she says, lights up activity on her social media sites.
When Ballou went on CNN to talk about the euro-crisis, she then pushed out that news via social media. Her clients, she says, were thrilled to be associated with such a media darling.
Scott Poore of Wunderlich Securities in Memphis says he is most active on LinkedIn. This is where he posts a regular blog on wealth management, which gets plenty of feedback via a group discussion.
“I reach 100,000 people through the groups, even though I have only 900 connections,” Poore said. “This is a great means to reach people that do know us.”
David Amann, CFP, promotes his Redwood City, Calif.-based practice with Edward Jones in ways that reflect his Silicon Valley presence.
For instance, Amann will review news on Reddit, a site that lets readers vote on which stories and discussions they believe are most important, and then go on Twitter to share a link that seems instructive. “I want clients to know what I am doing for them every day,” he said.
He tries to take a critical eye to what he posts on social media. “What do people want you to share?” Amann asks. “I like to post pictures that have quotes on with a financial component to them, which I put up on my Facebook page.”
Advisor Karen Kehr, with Ameriprise Financial (AMP) in Walnut Creek, Calif., says she’s found great success in keeping it “light.”
When Mattel unveiled Barbie Entrepreneur (carrying a smartphone, tablet and briefcase) two weeks ago, Kehr posted the news and an image on Facebook. “It was such a success!” she said of the post.
Kehr also suggests that advisors keep their target audience in mind. “Kids are not on Facebook anymore, because their parents are,” she said. “So, I posted a question on Facebook: What are doing to teach your kids about money, and then shared what I’m teaching my three sons.”
“Don’t discount what ‘old folks’ are doing online,” added Amann. “I made this mistake, thinking only those under 40 use social media, but then switched my mindset.”
It’s all about exploiting opportunities online, notes Wesley Long, head of private-client services for Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“Twenty years ago, no one could share news with their clients except by phone,” Long said. “Now, look at the power of social media on your business!”
And never underestimate the value of social media, reps say.
“We got a great client via Facebook,” Ballou said, thanks to some photos of her team’s holiday party that were posted on Facebook.
The client’s father reads her newspaper column and suggested his daughter contact the advisor when her husband died.
“She saw our website and the goofy pictures on Facebook,” explained Ballou. “That sealed the deal. You just never know!”
Kehr says that investors want to “work with people they like and can relate to.” And this philosophy drives her social media activity, as well as that of other Ameriprise advsiors.
“I’m doing social media all the time now,” she said. “It’s second nature, and I don’t see it as a time waster. I’m not writing all my own content, but picking some up [from Ameriprise].”
Social media is very effective as an asset-growth tool, Kehr explains. She can post an invite on LinkedIn, for instance, and then it gets shared quickly.
“We get a lot of return. We have it going all day long,” she added. “And I’m getting business from it!”