Last month, I was on a panel with some of the industry's top social-media minds at Pershing's Insite conference in Hollywood, Fla.
It was a great session. Yet, some of the best discussions were those that occurred after our presentation.
As if afraid to ask during the session, a large number of attendees approached me afterward with the same question: Which social-media platforms should I really focus on?
When it comes to social media, those who don't understand the platforms, know their audiences and have a strategy for leveraging those platforms are likely to be wasting time, energy and money.
Here is some information to help evaluate the major players in the social-media world.
LinkedIn: This site is 100% business. People active on LinkedIn are there primarily to build their businesses or to seek business or employment opportunities. There is no extraneous chitchat or interaction other than participation in groups, so it is a very efficient investment of time. The members of our social-media panel at the Insite conference agreed that those who can be active only on one social-media platform should choose LinkedIn.
Best for: prospecting
Other opportunities: research, job seeking and recruiting
Facebook: Facebook is much less formal than LinkedIn, allowing users to show some personality. Its versatile platform makes it easy to share information with clients and prospects via status updates that can include pictures and videos, and with the recent addition of hashtags, it is now easier to follow and participate in conversations. The site also allows a business user to have a photo and video gallery, an events page and even pages that users design themselves.
Best for: relationship building
Other opportunities: gathering client loyalty ideas, marketing and branding, recruiting, and promoting events
Twitter: With Twitter's wide reach, users and their businesses can build a global audience. The drawback, however, is that it requires more time and energy. Although tools such as Tweetdeck can help automate tweets, users do less posting of real content in real time. Users who are looking for a broader reach may find this platform to be right up their alley. They just need to ensure they have the time to devote to it.
Best for: educating a broader audience
Other opportunities: ability to connect users who don't personally know one another, as well as an ability to educate and engage an audience through tweet chats
YouTube: With 800 million people visiting YouTube worldwide every month, everyone's target market is on the video-sharing service. The site has become the second-largest search engine in the world, behind Google. This presents a phenomenal opportunity for financial advisers to brand themselves as experts, and to create and host videos that educate their audience.
Best for: client education
Other opportunities: allows viewers to get to know advisers and their teams through video; advisers can post videos of various speaking engagements or seminars in which they have participated
Pinterest: I am increasingly hearing of more advisers using Pinterest, particularly when targeting the affluent female population. This content-sharing service allows users to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pin boards. Although advisers often create boards related to financial planning topics, most tell me that it is their other boards that attract the most attention — those centered around cooking, wine, travel and decorating. Letting clients and prospects get a glimpse into the things an adviser enjoys allows them to build a connection they wouldn't otherwise have.
Best for: building connections based on common interests
Other opportunities: sharing information, linking to an adviser's website and letting clients and prospects get to know an adviser
The reality is that not all social-media platforms are suited to adviser practices. Those who are having a hard time deciding whether to use a platform should ask themselves the following questions:
• What is my business objective with this site?
• Is my target market active on this platform?
• Do I have the time to develop the content needed for this site?
Remember, social media is about building relationships and becoming a hub for information. Advisers who keep that in mind and choose the right platforms will be well on their way.
Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.