Facebook lets advisors build a page and share the personal stories of their practices and their lives. LinkedIn allows advisors to build a professional profile, make connections and see how they may already be connected to potential prospects. And Twitter lets advisors customize their own news feed and find out where the kinds of clients they want to work with are.
All three platforms and the best practices on them were a focus at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Social Media Seminar in New York on Wednesday, where experts said they anticipate even greater adoption of these platforms at wealth management firms.
“Eighteen months ago or even a year ago, firms were taking more of a scattershot approach to the use of social media,” said Barbara Stettner, partner at Allen & Overy. “Now today a lot of you are doing targeted directed development of social media strategies. And I would suspect in the next six months there is going to be more focus in different directions as well.”
Facebook As a Storytelling Medium
Wells Fargo Advisors is one of those firms with plans for expansion. The wealth advisory business now has its own Facebook page. Wells Fargo is also working on piloting the use of the social network to its advisor force. Starting this summer to early fall, about 40 Wells Fargo advisors will start testing the social network.
“What we’re trying to figure out is how we can tap into the passion point of consumers, because Facebook, unlike LinkedIn, is the passion component,” said Renee Brown, senior vice president, director of wealth of brokerage at retirement at Wells Fargo. “You have the opportunity to learn and grow in relationship with clients and customers in a deeper way.”
Financial advisor David Armstrong, of Monument Wealth Management at LPL Financial, said he discovered that his practice could use Facebook to connect with clients when he first started using the network to connect with his friends from the Marines.
His team’s Facebook page emphasizes images and content intended to help foster a personal connection with their followers. That includes posting pictures from when one partner attended the recent air show in Baltimore, Md. and when another partner had a baby. One prospect who saw the baby’s pictures on Facebook stunned that advisor when he congratulated him at the start of a phone conversation, Armstrong recalled.
“It’s evolved into this fantastic story telling tool, without it looking like a contrived story telling medium for business,” Armstrong said. “The story that you tell on Facebook with pictures and posts is very genuine and very personal.”
LinkedIn As A Business Card Extension
Another firm that has recently broadened the reach of its financial advisors through social media is Wedbush Securities. Beginning in January of this year, the firm began allowing its financial employees to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
“What we have found so far on the advisor side is the highest concentration has been on LinkedIn,” Natalie Taylor, vice president of marketing at Wedbush Securities, said.
LinkedIn was a priority for Wedbush when it recently came up with a four-stage strategy for its financial advisors to grow their presence all social media platforms. The strategy starts with the advisor web page and the creation of a profile that can subsequently be used across all social media platforms. The second step is establishing a presence on LinkedIn, followed third by either Twitter or Facebook, and then other social media sites.
“It’s a business essential these days,” Taylor said of LinkedIn. “It’s an extension of your business card. It’s where your clients look to find you and validate you as a financial professional.”
Fay DeBellis, senior vice president and wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, said she has created a profile that shows what she most wants potential business contacts to know about her, including her role as a board member of a local health organization in St. Paul, Minn.
From there, DeBellis said she consciously chooses who she wants to connect with on LinkedIn based on who she wants to develop a relationship with, as well as who can introduce her to prospects. Searching on LinkedIn has helped DeBellis find connections in organizations she wants to access.