Advisers who use social media say that they see a good chance of attracting new clients via their presence on various digital platforms, studies have shown.
About 43% of the 300 advisers who responded to American Century Investments' sixth annual social media study said that their use of social media platforms saw a return on investment. In fact, 17% of respondents said they have acquired business of at least $1 million partly because of social media. Another 27% of advisers said that they acquired a new client or gained more business from an existing client because of their use of social media.
In addition, the third annual Putnam Investments 2015 Social Advisor Study found that 79% of the more than 800 advisers who responded said they have acquired new clients through social media, up from 66% in 2014.
The reason why advisers have a good chance of impressing prospects through social media: They enhance their connections with people who have similar values and interests or feel they can learn something from advisers.
"It's an opportunity to build upon relationships," said Mark McKenna, head of global marketing at Putnam. "Your best relationships are going to come from people you know or friends, and that's where social media plays such a role in driving growth toward new accounts for financial advisers."
Advisers are using social media to find newsworthy content on Twitter and sharing it on other platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, he said. It's a strategy that keeps social-media-savvy wealth management professionals top-of-mind among clients and prospects.
"The big thing is identifying news items that fit within the philosophies of the firm's practice, and then being able to showcase them for potential clients," said Brent Bowen, corporate communications director for American Century, an asset management firm. "That's where maybe not one tool but a combination of social media tools brings those items together for an adviser to be truly effective."
Eric Roberge, a financial adviser with Beyond Your Hammock in Boston, knows all about that. He puts himself in front of clients and fellow industry members on a daily basis by using a variety of social media platforms.
"I think most advisers are not taking any advantage of the platforms, and [social media] is certainly a valuable opportunity for everybody," Mr. Roberge said. "But you do have to understand who your client base is."
That's why it's important to use social media as if creating a marketing platform.
Mr. Roberge said he takes into consideration where he wants what content to go — whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter — before posting it. Each platform has particular types of content that tend to resonate best. He uses Facebook the most because it's where the most prospective clients can find him.
"Everyone seems to be on Facebook, so you can connect there immediately," he said.
The American Century study found that Facebook is still the most used of all the social media platforms, with about 75% of advisers who said that they have an account. LinkedIn came in second at 70%, while Twitter was far behind at 37%.
The overall number of advisers who use at least one social media platform for business is up, too. The Putnam study stated that 81% of respondents said that they use social media for business, up from 75% last year.
Advisers' big concern related to using social media is staying within compliance parameters, but the American Century study found that source of anxiety is slowly dwindling for the third year in a row. On the other hand, 25% said they are concerned with privacy or data breaches. And another social media pet peeve, 59% of advisers said, is a lack of professionalism.
Despite such concerns, the practice of using a multitude of platforms is gaining traction across the industry. The Putnam study found that 40% of advisers are using four or more social networks for business, as opposed to 25% of respondents last year.
Kathryn Hauer, a financial adviser at Wilson David Investment Advisors is a writer on NerdWallet, an online forum where people can read reviews about financial products and services and get their questions answered by vetted financial advisers.
"When clients start to read what you write, they develop a relationship with you," Ms. Hauer said. "They might become your client because they read something that made them feel comfortable."
It goes to show that advisers who take the time to use social media can open themselves up to a wide range of potential clients.
"The fact is, everyone is watching, and anyone can reach out to you," Mr. Roberge said.