Advisors tend to seek the wealthiest clients. The wealthiest people tend to be older. And older people tend not to use social media. Therefore, a financial advisor doesn’t need to worry about setting up and maintaining a profile from Twitter Inc. or Facebook Inc. profile. Right?

Not necessarily. A recent survey from Putnam Investments shows that not only have most advisors embraced the use of social media—the industry has gone all in. Not only are more advisors regularly using social media, but they’re expanding their approach and reconsidering what it can do for their business.

Curious where the use of social media is heading in the advising industry? Read on to find out. (For more, see: How Advisors Can Use Google Analytics to Improve Their Websites.)

What the Survey Says

The Putnam Investments study revealed that 85% of advisors are using social media for business. This is an increase of 36% in just the three years that Putnam has been measuring social media use among advisors. The advisors surveyed said they credit social media with finding new clients, especially platforms like LinkedIn Corp., Facebook and Twitter. Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and SnapChat are less popular for reaching new and existing clients. 

In an average month, 55% of advisors post on LinkedIn, 23% on Facebook and 21% on Twitter. Those figures align with the notion that LinkedIn is considered to be a more professional resource. The survey uncovered that social media helped close deals faster, further solidifying its role as a valuable investment of an advisor’s time.

Finding Clients via Social

If you aren’t already posting on social media, it can be a daunting task to start. Maybe you already have a platform but you aren’t using it regularly. Either way, there’s no reason to be afraid. Start by creating a blog tied to your company’s website. Post one to three times a week and promote those posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You can also share relevant articles on your social networks and post news stories that your clients may find interesting. (For related reading, see: Why Social Media Is a Necessity for Financial Advisors.)

CFP Jeff Rose blogs regularly at Good Financial Cents and credits social media with growing his business. “Blogging in conjunction with social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow for you to showcase your expertise to so many more prospects than ever before,” he said.

Creating daily or weekly reminders can help you stay on track. You can also craft a content calendar so you don’t forget about timely posts. For example, you may want to write about New Year’s resolutions in January or marital finances for Valentine’s Day. Because using social networks requires little upfront cost if any, the return on investment can be phenomenal. “Most recently, we incorporated Facebook Live into our marketing efforts and the reach that our videos get, even in a small market, is staggering,” said Rose.

Rose encourages other advisors to do the same, and even offers a Facebook group and course on how planners can use social media to their advantage. Financial advisor Clint Haynes of NextGenWealth said it took him some time to master social media, but now he’s a huge fan. “I dove into LinkedIn about three years ago and it now generates about 90% of my non-referral clients. You can see why I like it,” he said.

Do I Really Need Social Media?

The results of the survey indicate that there is a subset of advisors who say that their clients aren’t on social media. These respondents tend to be age 65 and older. In the three years that this survey has been recorded, “more than half of non-users say it is unlikely they will become adopters,” said the study. Many of those worry about the compliance issues that come with being active on social media, while others say their clients aren’t on social in the first place.

Rose said social media isn’t a prerequisite right now, but will be a necessity for future advisors. “I think currently advisors can be successful without social media,” he said. “Eventually, however, if you're not on social media, then you and your financial planning services will be non-existent.”

The Bottom Line

The survey shows a 10% increase in the number of respondents who use social media to attract new clients—all in a two-year span. Even though it’s likely that your competition is already using social media, it’s not too late to start. At this point, an advisor without a social network could easily lose potential clients to a rival. If you’re a younger advisor still not on social media, consider the changing landscape. You may not be feeling the affects of your absence yet, but that’s sure to change as wealth shifts to the younger generations. Lastly, you can always outsource blogging and social media if you feel too busy to implement the tactics listed above. Freelance writers and social media managers can handle the basics of running your blog and social profiles, so you can focus on what matters most to your practice. (For more, see: Advisors: Wealthy Investors Read Your Blog.)

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