When it comes to getting financial advisers involved in social media, Lawing Financial Inc. of Overland Park, Kan., has found that nothing succeeds like success.
One of its more notable social-media successes in the recent past involved an adviser at the firm who learned that a large advertising agency in nearby Kansas City, Mo., was on the verge of being sold. He specialized in working with downsized executives and needed help to get in front of decision makers at the firm.
“He asked me if I could help him get in the door,” said Melissa Sturgis, Lawing's director of transition and marketing.
“Within 10 minutes of research on LinkedIn, I discovered that the firm uses the same graphic artist and public relations person we use,” she said. “I called her and asked for an introduction.”
That introduction led directly to signing up several ex-employees of the ad agency as clients, Ms. Sturgis said.
It also caused interest in social networking to skyrocket among other advisers at the firm, Ms. Sturgis said.
SHOW THEM THE MONEY
Such examples will pique advisers' interest in social media, but before they are willing to invest time and effort to get up to speed on the latest hot site, advisers need to believe that it will produce tangible results.
Usually, the most productive use of social media is to use it in conjunction with marketing, Ms. Sturgis said.
The strategy is low cost and allows the firm's 44 advisers to leverage the money that they already spend on marketing.
Aside from the cost of reducing her own client roster to take on social-media development, the social-media program at Lawing hasn't been expensive, Ms. Sturgis said.
She does recommend hiring an expert to teach employees how to use sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter if they don't have an experienced person already on staff.
Once advisers engage in some type of business development or marketing, Ms. Sturgis brainstorms with them about ways that social media can help, and advisers are extremely open to using it.
So far, LinkedIn is by far the most helpful program, with Facebook a distant second.
USEFUL FOR RECRUITING
A few advisers have begun using Twitter, though it is too early to say how that will fit in, Ms. Sturgis said.
The company uses social-media sites in its recruiting efforts, which she thinks will gradually increase the number of social-media-savvy employees, and it will become easier to get advisers overall to buy in.
For now, the hardest part of her job is to get advisers involved in some kind of a marketing program, Ms. Sturgis said.
Many advisers have scaled back on marketing over the past few years.
“We have a social-media boot camp where I tell them, "Give me 30 minutes a week to show you some of the stuff you can do.' And that is all it will take,” Ms. Sturgis said.
“You don't have to sit at your desk doing this five hours a day,” she said.
“The message we have tried to send is, "Let social media help you ramp up your marketing. Don't be afraid of it.'”
— Melissa Sturgis