To be or not to be on social media: That isn’t the question. Today, it’s a must for financial advisors to have a digital presence, and that doesn’t mean just putting up a website and hoping prospects will find it.
There’s a strategy for using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to reap marketing results, as Lisa Turley, senior vice president-advisor marketing at Raymond James, a leader in social media for advisors, tells ThinkAdvisor, in an interview.
Turley shares top dos and don’ts for putting those three platforms to work to attract prospects and network with business partners and potential advocates.
While a website is the heart of the advisor’s digital brand, the most productive way to direct traffic to it is via social media.
Raymond James introduced social media for its FAs back in 2011. Now a big 80% of the firm’s 6,600-plus U.S.-based advisors are using it for digital brand-building.
Turley, who educates RJ’s FAs on how to use social media effectively, sees that effort as part of an advisor’s marketing plan, as well as an excellent way to increase the number of touches to current clients.
ThinkAdvisor recently spoke by phone with Turley, who joined Raymond James nearly 23 years ago and is a member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Social Media Roundtable. She says that RJ is now inspiring advisors take an even deeper dive into social media marketing. Here are highlights of our interview:
THINKADVISOR: What’s Raymond James’ newest plan for FAs to connect with clients and prospects on social media?
LISA TURLEY: Our goal is to continue to encourage them to become more and more active, moving from the comfort level of posting prewritten content to posting all custom-created — personalized — content. That’s where we see the real value. Many firms discourage or prohibit that. But we feel it’s important for advisors to personalize content to the audience they’re trying to reach.
How much has Raymond James invested in putting its advisors on social media?
We’ve made a commitment to it, and there’s an expense associated with that, which we feel is well worth it. [But] we don’t disclose the scope or size of our vendor relationships because it’s proprietary information.
What’s your relationship with technology vendor Hearsay Systems? The firm’s Hearsay Social helps financial services firms compliantly engage on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
We’ve worked with them exclusively for advisor social media support since 2013.
Do you require all FAs to be on social media?
Absolutely not. [But] we highly encourage them to establish a basic presence — to have their LinkedIn profile complete and professional — and to use social media to post content, both curated and custom-created.
What if an advisor says, “I have a very robust business, so I don’t need to participate in social media”?
We hear that, and often from people who have very successful practices. We ask them how they typically grow their businesses. Most often it’s through referrals. Today, one of the early stages of client engagement is to Google the advisor’s name to learn a little about them and see their credentials, team and value proposition. So having a media presence and a digital brand allows advisors to represent that brand to prospective clients.
What’s another good reason to be on social?
It’s a way to establish thought leadership, particularly if the advisor has an area of expertise or certain client niche or service that they offer.
What choices do you give FAs when it comes to the content they can use?
There are three options. One is a preapproved library. [But] increasingly, as advisors become more [social media] savvy, they’re writing custom posts to deliver that content; for example, a link to an article or infographic. They’re personalizing the library of content so that it resonates more with their clients and connections.
What’s the third option?
They can write their own content — custom posts from scratch, whether it’s thought leadership in an area they have expertise or sharing something that personalizes their practice, like community involvement or other lifestyle topics.
What restrictions are there in what FAs are permitted to say?
They’re the same as with [traditional] marketing or communication channels: certain language and certain guidance. We don’t think social media is the right spot for them to provide investment guidance or product solutions. Rather, we look at this as an opportunity to share thought leadership or to distinguish themselves with their expertise — but not in a technical way.
What about political opinions?
We recommend staying away from controversial topics. Conversations that might be inflammatory in person or could cause division with the client aren’t appropriate on social media, so [we recommend that FAs] stay away from those. There are exceptions, however; for example, where a big part of an advisor’s personality and client conversations are around topics such as their political leanings.
Do FAs have to clear everything they want to post?
Yes. For Raymond James & Associates and Raymond James Financial Services advisors, the posts pass through Hearsay’s social media tool for compliance approval before they’re published. But independent RIAs associated with Raymond James manage their own compliance review process.
Please discuss do’s and don’ts for advisors on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Twitter, for instance, is a forthright way to promote oneself, such as: “I’m on the way to give a speech about so-and-so at such-and-such convention.” Do you recommend that?
Yes, it can be appropriate. Invite your clients and colleagues to follow you. If you’re publishing a lot of thought leadership on Twitter, you may share that information and say, “I’m going to be publishing content on “X” topic; please follow me if you’re interested in learning more.”
What else is Twitter good for?
It’s a great way to highlight something that’s on the advisor’s website. That’s one of the key perspectives about the effective use of social media: trying to direct traffic back to the website, which is the real hub of the advisor’s digital brand.
Who are the types of tweeters that FAs should follow?
Influencers and news sources. Retweeting their content is a great way to leverage or curate content. Follow someone that you want to follow you.
Should advisors follow a large number of people and companies?
Certainly finding the right thought leaders and news sources to follow is important. But having a high volume of followers is not necessarily key to reaching the right people.
What else do you recommend when it comes to the tweets themselves?