Need a social-media maven? Try your intern

May 12, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Andrew Osterland

Not sure what to instruct your intern to do at the office? Make him or her your social-media critic.

Renee Boulger, director of client services at Keystone Financial Services, told advisers at the Peak Advisor Alliance conference in Phoenix that interns can be invaluable in crafting an effective social-media strategy for communicating with clients and generating new prospects.

A 20-year-old intern with no financial background working at Ms. Boulger's office ended up being a huge asset in helping Keystone improve its use of social-media channels.

“She told us it was dull and that she wanted to know more about the firm and about Josh,” said Ms. Boulger, referring to adviser Josh Nelson, with whom she works. “She's in college and is going to be a teacher. She has no financial expertise, but we just wanted her to give her impressions of what we were doing.”

Among the ideas that the intern inspired was an Ask the Expert feature on the firm's Facebook site that enables users to ask questions about taxes and financial planning — something Ms. Boulger said has drawn a lot of interest. The intern also persuaded the firm to increase publicity about community events it sponsors.

Keystone now has a static strategy of sending out content preapproved by its broker-dealer, LPL Financial LLC, and a more active process of communicating on more timely news and events the firm is involved in. The intern also helped the firm be more consistent with its messages across social-media channels.

“It's the world young people live in, and she was a big help to us,” Ms. Boulger said.

Kent Patrick, a recent college graduate attending the conference, interned with another LPL adviser and was asked to assess the adviser's social-media efforts.

“I was doing grunt work, and I guess I proved I could handle more, and they asked me to look at their social media,” Mr. Patrick said. “They weren't doing much — posting some articles and pictures. I ran with it and quickly realized it was a big headache for them.”

He ended up suggesting that the adviser outsource the job to a third party.

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