If financial advisers agree social media is no longer an optional part of their business, it's time to start checking out some of the tools employed by the internet's "power users."
A good place to start is something that can help organize the social media landscape and create a consistent strategy across platforms.
One example is Hootsuite, a dashboard that supports Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and others all in a single location. Hootsuite first came on the scene in 2008 and has since grown into one of the most popular tools (it boasts 16 million customers around the world) for both professional and amateur social media users.
It also has a dedicated product for financial advisers. Amy McIlwain , director of Hootsuite's financial services business, said the company has enterprise partnerships with 450 financial services firms in the world, including broker-dealers, wealth management firms and insurance companies.
Hootsuite lets users organize their social media feeds into various streams based on keyword searches, hashtags, individual accounts or curated lists. This helps make sense of the continual fire hose of information (especially on Twitter), and allows for a continual feed of information without having to refresh like on the native Twitter apps.
Advisers can use this feature to listen for clients or prospects talking about things that could be a business opportunity. Ms. McIlwain calls this "strategic listening [for] money-in-motion-type signals.
"Advisers are listening for things like graduation, retirement, buying houses and buying cars," she said.
Or advisers can use streams to follow the social conversation at industry events, like InvestmentNews' upcoming Women Adviser Summit. Creating a stream dedicated to event hashtags will ensure you don't miss a beat, even if you can't attend.
By connecting across all social channels, an adviser can deliver a coordinated message tailored to each platform. Adviser can be more personal on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, focus on professional networking on LinkedIn, and use Twitter for news and sharing insight content.
Hootsuite also has a library of compliance-approved articles to share, a scheduling tool to automatically post content at optimal times, and analytics to track which posts are most and least successful.
Integrations with a number of third-party CRM and compliance archiving tools help it fit into the rest of the adviser's technology toolkit.
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There is also Buffer and TweetDeck (which is owned by Twitter), which George Papadopoulos, a financial planner followed by 10,600 people on Twitter, uses daily to execute his social media strategy.
Mr. Papadopoulos begins his day looking for articles relevant to his high-net-worth clients, then uses Buffer to schedule them to post throughout the day while he's busy with other things. He then uses TweetDeck to monitor feeds of financial professionals, members of the press, select keywords and certain VIPs Mr. Papadopoulos wants to be sure he doesn't miss anything from.
"It really consolidates and helps you focus on the most important things you want to be following," Mr. Papadopoulos said. "Twitter has become an indispensable tool, and I think whoever is not on it is missing a lot of what is going on."
One advantage to Hootsuite is that it brings several of these functions together in one dashboard, Ms. McIlwain said.
"We really connect the dots between publishing, governance and data all on one platform," she said. The company also offers training and education designed specifically for advisers to help them learn social media, which can sometimes look like a foreign language.
"Until you take the time to learn the language and become fluent, you're never going to be able to truly communicate," Ms. McIlwain said.
Just like it's not enough to buy a baseball glove to become a pro player, simply creating a social media account isn't going to lead to tangible results. Without a coordinated and thoughtful strategy, you'll just be tweeting into the void.
But if you do want to use social media professionally to help drive business, you're going to have to get the tools the pros use.