Some secrets of social networking pros

Social media success requires time comittment, smarts, 'nice pieces of content'

May 15, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers need to integrate social media into their work flow so that posting an article on LinkedIn about the upside of foreign equities, for example, becomes a routine part of the day, right along with calls to clients, investment analysis and prospecting.

One way time-starved advisers can work in the recommended 30 minutes to one hour a day on social media is to equip mobile devices with applications that allow them to send tweets from just about anywhere — the car repair shop, for instance — or promote a client event on Facebook between cheers at a child's soccer game, said two experts during an InvestmentNews webcast yesterday.

“Those who are most successful with social media are those who integrate it into their lives,” said Kristen Luke, chief executive of Wealth Management Marketing Inc.

Advisers also should post content relevant to their hobbies and community, as well as educational materials that can help clients with their finances or other aspects of life. However, they should stay away from tweeting things like the breakfast menu at home.

“Look for nice pieces of content that will resonate with your followers, get you noted and identify you as a resource and thought leader,” said Stephanie Sammons, chief executive of Wired Advisor, during the hour-long “Jumping off the Tweet deck” webcast.

WHAT TO WATCH Videocast: Experts answer your social media questions

The people who do well at this are those with the confidence to put their opinions out there and are personally committed to showing who they are as people and what they stand for, Ms. Sammons said.

“They are authentically involved with the process,” she said.

Posting photos and content is important, but advisers also need to stay engaged, with personal interaction a key component, Ms. Luke said.

“The more you can be present, the more you'll see growth in followers,” she said.

Tracy Schmidt, director of social media strategy and consulting for Investment News parent Crain Communications, warned advisers to be careful when sending personal messages through Twitter, pointing to the case of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who was disgraced two years ago for sending inappropriate messages. He thought he was sending a direct Twitter message, but in fact, the revealing photos went out to all his followers.

“Be careful about private tweets to individuals,” Ms. Schmidt said. “Make sure that if a direct message accidentally goes public, it won't be harmful.”

Ms. Sammons also recommends that advisers steer clear of pitching their services through social networks.

“If you are building online influence, giving value and sharing content to help people get smarter or achieve more, they will naturally seek more about you and visit your website,” she said.

All three women stressed the importance of having strong profiles on the three main social media sites — LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The profiles should discuss the adviser's accomplishments and how they help clients. Even if an adviser isn't active on one of those three, their profile will still come up on search results for the adviser's name.

It's not as important for an adviser to be on some of the smaller ones, such as Pinterest, unless there's reason to expect one's target audience to be flocking to that site.

“You want to be where the people are — that's where the opportunity is,” Ms. Sammons said.

On regulation, the panelists said the Securities and Exchange Commission has “softened” its policy on social media in recognition of the fact that it's not going away. Independent advisers need to have a social-media policy in place, and they must archive messages and follow the existing marketing/advertising rules for advisers, Ms. Luke said.

For advisers at large brokerage firms, it will take more time and they'll have less flexibility with what they can do with social media, the women said.

However, even wirehouse advisers can create a personal brand that has nothing to do with business, such as a Merrill Lynch adviser who runs triathlons and raises money for charity.

“Build it around what you're passionate about, and then when you get the green light, then you can integrate business,” Ms. Sammons said.

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