For several years, Facebook and Twitter have ruled the social media world—Facebook has more than 1 billion users; Twitter has another 300 million. However, in recent years new networks such as Instagram and Snapchat have emerged onto the scene. With all of these choices available and a limited amount of time to dedicate to each, how can financial advisors choose where to spend their time when it comes to an effective social media strategy?

The answer: LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social network and according to a recent study by Putnam Investments, it remains advisors’ preferred social platform of choice. LinkedIn is so much more than an online channel for job seekers to publish their resume. Over the years, LinkedIn has grown into a leading network with more than 460 million users. It’s the place where advisors can showcase their experience, skills and expertise. It’s also a valuable communication tool that can be used in an advisor's overall digital marketing strategy.

Here are three reasons why financial advisors should be on LinkedIn. (For more, see: Implementing a Small Business Social Media Strategy.)

Cost-efficient Marketing Tool

Social media is a cost-efficient way to prospect new clients and share information with communities of interest. Think of the time, effort and money it would take to send out mailers to potential clients. Now think about how much easier and how much less time it would take to send out that exact same message to your entire network on LinkedIn. It would take much less. LinkedIn allows users to send out images, messages and information to several people at the same time with one process. In an industry where time is precious and equals money, making the most out of your marketing efforts is very valuable.

If you have an upcoming client appreciation event or information seminar, posting the flyer on LinkedIn through the Upload a Photo function from your homepage.

Communication Made Much Easier

Being active online is so much more than sharing information. It’s also a time efficient way to keep in touch with existing clients through direct messaging and engaging via content. You may not always have time to answer the phone or book an appointment, but if you’re connected online throughout the day you can interact with clients by liking and commenting on their posts or sending a direct message to follow up on your last appointment. Every time you do, your clients will be notified and your name will pop up in front of their eyes. (For more, see: Twitter Tools Advisors Should Consider.)

It’s important to note that clients and prospects prefer to be communicated with online—specifically via LinkedIn, because it’s seen as a more serious, professional network (fewer photos of kids and vacation than say Facebook). Putnam Investments reported that 85% of financial advisors use social media in their practice, which is an increase from 75% in 2014. 

Proven Industry ROI

Financial advisors can use LinkedIn to network and grow their business. Although it does take time to build trust and cultivate relationships that are initiated online, LinkedIn has proven to be a profitable marketing tool in the financial industry. Putnam Investments reports that over the past three years, 80% of financial advisors have gained clients via social media, up from 49%. The research also notes that the average increase of assets under management was $1.9 million. Every single new connection, like, comment and share is a potential sales lead. The next steps, though, are up to you. Advisors need to be proactive and keep the conversation going by reaching out to their connections to close the deal.

Being on social media is a valuable part of your digital marketing strategy. The key to success is to define your goals and master one function of LinkedIn—such as making new connections—before moving on to the next, like networking by joining "Groups." When focusing your time and efforts, financial advisors can get big return on investments when it comes to social media marketing. (For more, see: Why Social Media Is a Necessity for Financial Advisors.