Social media gaffes advisers don't know they're making

Experts weigh in on the most common mistakes – and how to fix them

Feb 12, 2014 @ 9:47 am

By Lorie Konish

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for financial advisers. But like all networking efforts, it takes finesse.

Here experts weigh in on where they most commonly see advisers go astray on social media, and how to fix those gaffes.

Not taking time to listen

"One of the most frequent mistakes financial advisers make when it comes to social media is not taking the time to listen. Social media is a conversation. There is both a talking and a listening aspect, and by listening, advisers are able to identify those money in motion events such as changing jobs, selling a house or having a baby.

Think of social media like a giant party. The people you remember are the ones with interesting stories and the ones that listened to you. No one wants to remember the guy who followed you around all night talking about how great he is. Don't be that person on social media."

– Tip by Amy McIlwain, president, Financial Social Media

Not sharing what you know

"Often advisers will tell me that they have had a LinkedIn profile but it's just not doing anything for them. That's like going to a trade show and not talking to anyone. Get out, participate in groups, ask and answer questions and share valuable interesting content.

LinkedIn is more that just a place to hang your resume. It's a powerful search engine and when used correctly can generate great returns. One of our clients for example, went to school at Dartmouth and now lives in Dallas. He uses the Advanced LinkedIn search to find fellow Dartmouth alum now living in Dallas who are engineers. By using the Dartmouth connection to break the ice and his specialty in working with engineers, he has generated several new clients."

– Amy McIlwain

Not having a plan

"I think what financial advisers are missing is a strategic and consistent approach that defines the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their social media program. Random tactics just aren't effective.

A social-media strategy would be comparable to building and implementing a financial plan for a client. You wouldn't just tackle their investment goals randomly. That would be a disaster. The same goes for social media. It needs to be a structured and coordinated program with well-defined objectives and parameters.

With a strategic approach, advisers can be much more efficient and effective without a doubt. Given that marketing is an expense, it pays to be efficient and effective. A great social-media strategy is one that is balanced between building your own online influence and network while helping your clients and prospects solve their problems, get smarter, feel more confident, and achieve more."

– Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO, Wired Advisor

Not knowing your audience

"The biggest issue I see where advisers struggle with social media is that they don't have a clear enough focus on exactly who their target clientele are, and what's important to them, so the adviser struggles to share a steady stream of relevant content that attracts a following. Second, the related challenge is that many advisers really aren't targeted enough with a clear niche to be able to differentiate themselves in the first place (with social media or otherwise). They're viewing social media as an ends, when in reality it's really a means and the end is establishing a trusted expert presence with a target clientele."

– Michael Kitces, director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group

Not staying consistently engaged

“The No. 1 problem that I see is lack of commitment and consistency. I train so many advisers who are so excited about what can be done with LinkedIn, but then they never commit to it and implement on a consistent basis. They try the strategies out for a day or two, don't get immediate results and go back to what they had been doing before without LinkedIn.

Consistency and timing is more important than ever as a result of changes that LinkedIn made in the news feed. Awhile back, they did away with the ability to search the news feed for status updates based on keyword and the types of people posting. Most recently, they removed the activity feed, including status updates, from the profile. That means that people can only see your content when it's live in the news feed; you can't go back and look at it on the profile if you missed it and you can't search for it. So the life span of status updates is much shorter, which also means that you need to be more active. One status update a day isn't going to get it done.”

– Crystal Thies, social media consultant, Crystal Clear Buzz

What mistakes do you see on social media? Weigh in with your comments here.

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