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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

Sail Over These 4 Social Media Obstacles

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Social media continues to be a hot topic among financial advisors. If you have yet to get on the bandwagon, you may be struggling with one or more common obstacles to social media success. Here are the top four obstacles along with some remedies:

#4: “It’s not an effective tool for reaching my audience.” This may seem like a legitimate concern, however, consider the following:

  • Younger high-net-worth individuals. A recent study from the Federal Reserve’s Board of Consumer Finances claims that “high-net-worth individuals under the age of 50 hold 28 percent of the U.S. wealth across all asset classes.” At the same time, a 2011 Spectrum Group study revealed that “younger investors are likely to view a financial advisor in a negative light if he/she does not have a social-media presence.” Furthermore, in the coming years, baby boomers will be transferring a massive amount of wealth to the more-tech-savvy Generations X and Y.
  • Investors exchange information online. According to a 2011 Cisco IBSG report, investors are apt to exchange information and guide each other via online blogs and message boards. Furthermore, many young high-net-worth individuals use social media channels to discuss investment decisions.
  • The percentage of baby boomers using social media is consistently growing. According to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the use of social networks by people ages 50 and over has grown over 40 percent in the past seven years. This illustrates that the older generations are slowly but surely adopting social media. AARP also cites that one-third of the estimated 270 million U.S. Internet users are baby boomers.

#3: “I don’t understand how to use it.” There are a ton of ways to use social media to grow your business and a wealth of educational resources to help you along the way. In addition to the aid that archiving companies offer, there are:

  • Webinars. The BrightTalk and the Hootsuite lecture series offer some great free webinars pertaining to social media and financial advisors.
  • Educational blogs. Social Media Examiner, Advisor Websites, ByAllAccounts and the Social Financial Advisor are some examples.

According to Financial Social Media’s recent survey of more than 100 financial professionals, the top three reasons for using social media were to gain brand exposure/increase web traffic, improve relationships with existing clients and generate leads.

#2: “It’s too time-consuming.” Financial Social Media’s recent survey revealed that time was a hurdle for 49 percent of financial professionals. With all the other tasks vying for advisors’ attention, social media may end up at the bottom of the list. While social media does require an investment of time, there are many ways to improve time management and productivity.

  • Create systems and processes. Develop an editorial strategy and use it to eliminate guess work.
  • Delegate. If you don’t have time for social media, find someone who does.
  • Automate. Use automation tools such as Hootsuite, libraries of pre-approved content and RSS feeds to speed things up. As long as there is a healthy dose of “real-time” interaction, you’ll see results.

#1: “Compliance.” Compliance and regulatory demands are weighty topics in the financial industry. Let’s face it: Social media and compliance go together like oil and water. While the regulations set forth by the SEC and FINRA have a reputation for being threatening and perplexing, they aren’t as complicated as they may seem. Below are some basic rules to get you started:

  • Archive everything. There are a myriad of archiving companies that are really helpful for advisors.
  • Create well-defined social-media policies and best practices.
  • Implement safeguards and define standards to protect non-public consumer information.
  • Implement approval processes for static content (i.e., blog posts, Facebook posts).
  • Implement supervision standards for interactive content (such as chats).
  • Avoid recommendations, endorsements or advice. You can offer insights, such as general information about a particular topic, but no tailored advice.
  • Be smart. If something seems questionable to post, don’t post it. As long as you use your best judgment, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Considering the vast and ongoing growth in social media, it is important for advisors to develop some social-media success strategies. If any of the four hurdles above are sidelining you, it’s time you took steps to overcome them.

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