Social media is worth the time

Experts weigh the effort versus client growth associated with online activity

May 14, 2014 @ 10:32 am

By Carl O'Donnell

Social media, lead generation, practice management, Generation Y
+ Zoom

Tired of relying solely on clients for referrals, but not sure how else to build your business? Internet-savvy advisers are increasingly kick-starting growth using social media.

Three social media mavens convened Wednesday for an InvestmentNews webcast to discuss how to use these online tools to build a client base without expending too much valuable time.

“If you don't have a rock-solid marketing plan, social media won't help you,” said David Edwards, president of Heron Financial Group. “If you do, it can really be a force multiplier.”

The most important thing for advisers to understand is that social media doesn't have to be “a huge time suck,” he said.

It's true that social media has a steep learning curve, and that familiarizing yourself with the technologies might require an upfront investment of time, Mr. Edwards said. However, once an adviser develops a basic competency and a sound strategy, there is no reason why social media should require more than 30 minutes a week, he said.

“I talk to so many advisers who say they would do social media but they just don't have the time,” said Stephanie Sammons, founder and chief executive of Wired Advisor. “I think if someone says that, it means they just aren't fully appreciating the value of social media.”

The success Mary Beth Storjohann, founder of Workable Wealth, has experienced is an example of that value. Thanks to social media, she has positioned herself as a voice in financial planning for Generation Y, connecting her with numerous other professionals, members of the media and potential clients. The payoff has been substantial: Her online presence has become a significant source of leads.

Ms. Storjohann is able to generate a constant stream of content without taking too much time out of her day. She hired a consultant to create an editorial calendar that charts out her content strategy for the whole year. Typically, this requires her to write her own blog post each month. In the interim, she shares content written by others that is valuable to her audience.

The most critical tool for ensuring time is well spent is a solid metric for measuring success, Mr. Edwards said. Simply accumulating a multiplicity of followers doesn't necessarily add value to a business. Instead, advisers should focus on metrics that matter, such as how many potential clients are paying increased attention to your advisory firm, he said.

Ms. Storjohann, for example, pays special attention to how many members of Gen Y subscribe to her newsletter.

“It's easy to get caught up in attracting followers and connections,” Ms. Sammons said. “But what really matters is whether people are taking steps to actually build a relationship with your practice.”

Neesha Hathi of Schwab Advisor Services on using social media for client prospecting

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