As more advisers flock to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s time for them take a closer look at their posts — and focus on whether they’re providing what clients and, more importantly, potential clients, really want.
Sometimes it seems as though the financial services side of the Twitter universe is filled with technical jargon and comments about what is happening in the industry. But investors are turning to Twitter and other social media sites to find advisers with whom they can discuss important financial decisions.
Investors’ hunger for these sorts of resources was illustrated in a survey from Brunswick Group, a communications firm, which found 70% of investors believe the digital media will play a role in future investment decisions.
So it comes down to the conversation, which is all about sparking relationships.
Of the estimated 228,000 advisers who actively use social media, 74% use LinkedIn, 75% use YouTube, 65% use Facebook and 32% say they use Twitter in a professional manner, according to a Cogent Reports survey.
All those advisers’ online efforts will be for naught if they don’t learn how to talk to their viewers.
“By providing valuable content for them, you’re showing you’re there and available,” said Sophia Bera, a virtual financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning, who targets millennial clients.
The first step for advisers is to find their target audience, and build their social media presence around that.
Ms. Bera said she can normally be found sharing her own posts or retweeting like-minded millennial-targeting organizations. For her, that includes building relationships with the team behind GoGirl Finance and radio talk show host Chelsea Krost.
When Ms. Bera started interacting with these people, her number of followers began to grow.
“They need to figure out who their ideal client is and then they have to figure out who already has that ideal client,” Ms. Bera said of her fellow advisers.
LinkedIn is the most popular site among financial advisers — according to the Cogent survey, of the 74% of advisers who said they use LinkedIn, 59% of them said they use it as their primary platform.
So for advisers, connecting with professionals on LinkedIn could be even more beneficial than simply building a network of fellow advisers.
By keeping an eye on how a person is moving up the ladder at work, an adviser can reach out, congratulate that person or even make suggestions for what they should do financially as they switch positions.
“What’s nice about that, if you’re on LinkedIn with them, somebody can easily refer you,” Ms. Bera said.
There’s also a sense of community that social media provides. Facebook, for example, is more than just sharing pictures — it can be a platform to build relationships.
Cristina Guglielmetti, a financial planner and president of her new firm Future Perfect Planning in Brooklyn, N.Y., said when she started, she decided to create a Facebook page for her business.
She’s been gaining clients from Facebook, she said, due in part to the referrals she gets from simply being a member of a local parenting group.
Raef Lee, managing director and head of new services and strategic partnerships for the SEI Advisor Network, said he’s seeing advisers get a little more comfortable on Facebook.
“Some advisers truly think of their clients as friends so they allow their business to impinge on the friendship side, and they’re opening up that way,” Mr. Lee said. “People are getting easier with social media. It’s more commonplace now.”