In my last blog post, we got to the heart of why any adviser should establish a personal online presence, one that goes way beyond a corporate website.
Now, we're going to tackle “the how.”
When financial advisers come to me to talk about Twitter or Facebook, I ask them for their URL. Typically, they will offer up a Twitter handle or a user name. Some will give me the website address of their firm's corporate homepage.
Either way, they're missing something very important: The core of an adviser's social media game plan should be a blog. All other social media sites, from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to StockTwits, should be built around a blog. Think of your social-media strategy as a human body: the blog is the torso and the networks and sites you use are the appendages attached to it.
The blog is where you write long-form on topics and issues that are important to you. It's where you record your day-to-day thoughts, and how you showcase your skill sets and knowledge. Other social sites and services offer you an opportunity to do this, but in a diluted fashion or on a smaller scale.
With a blog, you are in complete control of the look, feel, aesthetics and content. It's a trophy case for who you are, what you've accomplished and how seriously you take your profession. It's a living library for all of the information you find compelling enough to fill it with. It's a chronicle of your professional and maybe even your personal triumphs and tribulations.
While there is nothing innately wrong with posting your writing directly to Facebook or LinkedIn, you should realize that by doing so, you are creating content for Facebook or for LinkedIn and not for yourself. Furthermore, the nature of social networks is that old content tends to get pushed down in favor of new content — there is a short lifespan during which your posting will be seen and read by others. With a blog, you control the speed at which your old content rolls off and new content is published above it. You can also spotlight certain posts you may feel are explanatory or elemental in terms of how you want people to perceive you. On the top of my blog, for example, I keep a “Best Of” tab, where I can throw links to what I consider my best or most essential work.
Besides, there are no rules about taking your blog posts and uploading them to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or wherever else you'd want them to be read. But everything you do should originate at your home base.
From a compliance standpoint, this is probably a best practice anyway — as it essentially serves as an archive for all your public comments.
One last word of caution: Don't spend any money! Hold off on hiring IT people or consultants until you've set yourself up and have determined whether or not this is something to which you want to commit yourself. I recommend WordPress as your blog platform, as Blogger/Blogspot sites tend not to look at professional and aren't as flexible.
I'd buy a domain for $13 and point it at your blog as opposed to having a WordPress address — it's literally the least you can do to make the site seem like some thought was put into it.
Tumblr is another easy option if you just want to get your bearings and experiment with writing daily for a few weeks. The Tumblr platform has limited functionality from the back end, but you can be up and running in under a minute and can choose a decent amount of its style.
I recommend setting up the blog and playing around with it for a few months before you worry about whether anyone is ever going to find it. As I said in my previous column, make a mess while no one is looking and really focus on finding your voice. Your writing chops will improve as you go and you'll be amazed at the shift in content and subject matter that takes place as a function of you finding out what you really care to write about.
And don't lose the log-in information!
Josh Brown is co-founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management and a financial commentator on CNBC. Follow him on his blog, The Reformed Broker, or on Twitter @ReformedBroker.