Financial firms have come a long way. They've embraced social media by incorporating these channels into their brand and product marketing strategies. And they've overcome considerable regulatory and compliance hurdles along the way. But companies have failed to take the next, crucial step: They haven’t given their large base of financial advisors customizable, strategic social media content programs.
Why Advisors Are Holding Back
“Social media creates a huge opportunity for firms that get it right,” Accenture exec Alex Pigliucci told Forbes. But the most groundbreaking insight was summarized by the headline: "Financial Advisors Are Adopting Social Media, Fitfully."
And not much has changed over the last year. According to the 2014 Financial Professional's Media Adoption Study from American Century, financial advisors are still hesitant to adopt social media, with moderate usage increasing only 4%.
Why? According to Jamie Needham, digital marketing strategist for American Century, “Although more financial professionals today see social media’s value, many are still struggling with the best way to use it.”
The study also shows FAs confidently use social media to obtain information, but are still unsure of how to distribute it, with 36% of respondents citing uncertainty regarding compliance as their chief concern.
While compliance and regulatory issues do factor into participation rates, for many the barrier is more rudimentary. “FAs aren’t sure about what content to share,” says Bhawna Johar, SVP of Creative Strategy at Carpenter Group. “They’re unsure about the channels, the messages, and the frequency of posts. They wonder whom they should target, and how they should respond to comments,” she continued. “It can be complicated.”
Build a Turnkey Content Solution
One of the best ways to increase participation is to create a comprehensive content program. Such programs include a turnkey communication plan that provides a general framework of messages aligned with your goals and targeted to your audience.
The most effective programs give FAs the flexibility they need to personalize content to match the varying profiles of their clients and align with the specialties of their businesses.
A tailored social media content solution will increase FA social media adoption and engagement by offering FAs relevant, well-crafted, compliance-approved content. It also provides firms with valuable new outlets to steer conversations and influence consumer choices.
Leverage Best Practices
Here’s a short list of best practices for an effective turnkey plan:
- Identify strategic initiatives and build a 12-month editorial calendar—try to avoid overly saturated holidays/events. High traffic doesn’t always translate into high profile.
- Tailor content for each audience segment.
- Create content using multimedia, including graphics, videos and photos.
- Ask questions and encourage comments within content itself.
- Optimize all copy, especially headlines for curiosity, social search and SEO.
- Use @Reply to link to organizations/initiatives referenced in content to increase content sharing content and drive traffic.
- Optimize messaging volume, timing, and channel deployment
- Deploy hashtags strategically for tracking and measurement
- Include a virtuous cycle of metrics and refinement
“Social media is now an established communication vehicle for individual investors, and an important way that firms can demonstrate their thought leadership and promote capabilities,” Carpenter Group’s Johar says. “It’s crucial to empower advisors with easy-to-implement, approved content so they can engage with investors and communicate your firm’s messages.”
Make the most out of your social media strategy by giving your most direct and motivated connection to clients — your FAs — a campaign they can run with.