More than four out of five financial advisors are using social media for businesses purposes and close to 100% are using social networks for business or personal purposes, according to Putnam’s sixth social media survey.

The survey of 1,021 advisors across the U.S. in late 2018 found that advisors are using social media to acquire new clients (92% of those who use social media for business said social media helped them do this, up from 49% in 2013), initiate contact with referrals from existing clients (57%), connect with clients’ heirs and adult children (47%) and increase their assets under management. The average new AUM gained from social media initiatives is $4.9 million.

Nearly nine in 10 advisors say social media plays a key role in marketing efforts, up from 23% in 2014.

“The use of social media for business purposes by financial advisors has matured during the six years we have conducted this study, evolving from the periphery of the advisor experience into a critical tool for business development and client services,” said Mark McKenna, head of global marketing for Putnam, in a statement.

LinkedIn remains the most popular network for advisors, followed by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, but fewer advisors cite Facebook as their primary network following years of study growth (30%, down from 36%). More advisors are using Twitter to promote themselves as thought leaders.

The average advisor using social media is almost 44 years old, working in the business for 11 years and male (two-thirds of advisor users). Over 60% of advisors surveyed report that social media increases their efficiency “a great deal.” More specifically advisors said that social media makes it easier for them to share information with clients and communicate with clients more frequently and make decisions.

Over 60% of advisors surveyed consider themselves an expert in using social media, but Putnam believes only a quarter of those self-described experts actually meet that definition in practice, based on its own internal benchmark.

Advisors who want to check where their use of social networks ranks among their peers can take a short quiz at Putnam’s advisorsaresocial.com website under the “Your Practice” tab and receive some pointers on how to increase and manage their social presence.

As for future use of social media, the survey found that among current advisor users, over 50% expect to integrate social media into their marketing automation systems (53%), while 47% expect to add staff dedicated to social media responsibilities. Sixty percent expect to dig deeper into their existing social network presence.

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