Clara Shih: How to ‘Work Smarter’ on Social Media

'You can’t just post and post' on social media, Shih says; going a little deeper can help 'ensure that robo-advisors don’t take over'

Advisors and their firms know they have to “work smarter” online. At a social media conference Thursday in San Francisco sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, leaders in the technology and financial industries came together to learn what that means in concrete terms.

More than 100 participants heard opening remarks by Hearsay Systems CEO Clara Shih, who remains upbeat but clear on the acute challenges faced by advisors today.

“You can’t just post and post” on social media, Shih said. “You also have to take advantage of big data opportunities.”

This is what working productively is all about, she explains: “The [tech] revolution is changing all our jobs, and we have to learn how to use analytics to work smarter.”

For instance, broad corporate messages can get lost online. But communications about what advisors are doing in the branch offices and local communities stand out, especially when they include photos and videos.

Facebook Senior Client Partner Scott Shapiro agrees. “It all comes down to one word: relevancy,” he said.

“We are standing at the crossroads,” Shih said. “We can complain that this gives us more to do, but there are also opportunities ahead. The point is to stay relevant as firms look at the next generations [and move] to ensure that robo-advisors don’t take over.”

‘Trigger Points’

How can advisors best position themselves as a better source of financial services and advice than robo-advisors?

It comes down to being accessible online – aka “being Googleable,” Shih says.

In addition, she adds, potential clients want to be able to easily review what advisors share online and what can be gleaned from advisor and firm websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and so on.

How much do and how often do advisors share? Do they post helpful educational materials often via social media? How do advisors help clients in ways that robos do not?

There are times, so-called trigger points, when younger investors do seek out live advice.

Younger generations, “when they want personalization, will move in these relationships to discuss their goals” and specific issues, said Moniza Masud, Twitter’s account manager for financial services.

As these investors compare what computers can do for them vs. the role advisors play, “This is when personalization is critical,” Masud said.

“We see the trigger points as the times when a young people who’d gone to college and is generally ‘a soloist’ transitions [to an advisor] due to a life event like buying a house or having a child,” said Shapiro.

“It’s the complex financial transitions that matter,” he explained. “The threshold is when they need personalization, and waterfall effects begin [to trickle down to the advisor].”

Social Steps

Social media does help advisors attract new clients, but it also helps them retain existing relationships.

“Nearly 2 billion people are active on Facebook,” Shih said.

“High-net-worth investors spend more time on social media” than others, she adds. “The more wealth an individual has, they more time they spend on social media. There is a positive correlation.”

But Facebook posts are getting lost as news feeds are inundated with content.

“People cannot consume as much of it” as they are getting, Shih explained.

Thus, posts have to be “nuanced,” meaning that they include but also go beyond a national broker-dealer marketing campaign.

“Take advantage of your local reach,” she said. That drives traffic to national websites “and goes full circle.”

Video is key, with 8 billion videos being posted on Facebook each day. “It’s hard to wrap your head around that,” Shih said.

But advisors like Brittney Castro of LPL Financial and Misty Farukh of Raymond James & Associates are making it work for them and their practices.

“Millennials and others want to consume content,” particularly on mobile devices, she said.

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