Last post I broke down the reasons why advisors should be using social media. I’d like to share next what I think are the best social media services and tools. First, let’s discuss the difference between the two. A social networking service is an online service, platform or site that focuses on the building of social networks or social relations. It typically consists of a representation of each user (a profile), social links and acts as a digital community where users share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks. A social media tool is essentially a support system for social networking platforms.

They are both time-saving, efficient and a great addition to an individual’s social media strategy. But which ones should you use? Here are my top three social networking services picks, and next week I’ll share my top three tools.

  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the place to go if you’re looking to network with other top professionals, generate leads and build upon existing client relations. It’s also a great place to share your expertise and position yourself as the expert in your field. LinkedIn can help you bring in more money and job opportunities, keep in touch with industry leaders and other professionals, request and display professional recommendations, utilize an online resume, stand as an offshoot of your website, and the ability to use a photo makes you and your business recognizable.
  • Facebook. Facebook is no longer just a personal networking site. Facebook fan pages have given organizations the ability to create an online community representing their brand, its values and mission. The bread and butter of a Facebook fan page is its newsfeed, where the organization and fans can post updates, links, events, discussions and more to engage users. The real kicker of Facebook is its ability to go viral extremely fast. News, discussions, links and photos can circulate across the Facebook grid with the ease of the “share” button, allowing businesses to expose their brand with the simple click of the “like” button.
  • Twitter. The best way to view your company’s engagement with Twitter is presenting yourself as a content DJ. With a 140-character limit and a different audience at all times, it’s crucial that you use Twitter to post attention-getting and engaging content. Stay engaged with your followers and put out great information. Twitter is a great prospecting tool for generating leads; the combination of a diverse audience with a quick circulation rate can expose your content to new connections and different networks.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website at www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.