Social Media Trends Financial Advisors Need to Know in 2015

 

It’s 2015. It’s 2015! According to Back to the Future II, we should be levitating and flying down the street. 

We’re not (yet), but technology is all around us and invading every aspect of our lives beyond just our mobile phones. This was apparent last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. The main theme there? Technology everywhere. Refrigerators, shoes, and more are becoming smarter. 

Let’s face it. Social media is no longer the next big thing. It’s here, it’s how we communicate with each other and it’s continuing to evolve.

So what’s new with social media? Let’s look at the changes and trends with the social media sites you use most.

LinkedIn
So, advisors – what’s new with your favorite social media channel? Actually, a lot.

  • Publishing content: Have you been thinking about writing a blog? Not sure how to get started or what technology to use? Now you can use LinkedIn to host and distribute your content to all of your LinkedIn connections. This is a great option for compliance-conscious financial advisors. Using LinkedIn to publish content vs. a standalone website or blog makes archiving easier.  My colleagues and I are going to start publishing Practically Speaking blog posts there, too. Check out this article to learn more.

  • Adding visual interest: It’s not just about the words you say, it’s how you look. LinkedIn is now permitting users to add background images to their profiles. Also, if you have a Premium LinkedIn membership, LinkedIn will even provide you with a gallery of appropriately sized images to use. If you don’t have premium membership, I’d suggest that you have a professional picture taken of you, or your office space – something that conveys more about you and your work than just your headshot. Here are instructions. 
     

  • Improving search functionality: Search is one of the best features of this platform, and it just got smarter. Want to connect with someone, but not sure how to spell their name? LinkedIn will present likely connections based on your network. They’ve also now provided a search feature that was once only available to Premium members – searching through 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Why should you care about this? That is your referral base, and now you can sift through these individuals more efficiently.

Facebook
The real change that I’ve observed in Facebook is that it’s not just the place where individuals connect anymore. It’s becoming a hub where brands meet their fan base. And if brands want to be seen, Facebook is encouraging them to advertise. Tech Republic interviewed Jennifer Polk of Gartner Consulting and she said,

“Facebook has essentially said that content without advertising has a significantly lower chance of being seen, so if you want to make sure your content is being seen on sites like Facebook, it’s becoming table stakes.”

Also new for Facebook users is the “Call to Action” button. You can select from seven calls to action including Contact Us, Sign Up, Watch Video or even Shop Now. This is a helpful feature for financial advisors looking to promote items such as a Market Minute video or a newsletter sign up.
One step ahead of the Call to Action button is already in the works and that’s retail shopping directly from your Facebook (or Twitter) newsfeed. Instead of directing advertisers to take their followers off of Facebook for transactions, fans can now use the “Buy Now” function. This functionality had a limited release in 2014 and will be rolled out more broadly in the future.  I don’t expect financial advisors to sell investment strategies direct to consumers using this feature, but it’s good to know and understand the concept of “social selling.”  More importantly, financial advisors  can caution clients to watch spending habits as this new online addition could make it easier to make frivolous purchases that can drain personal savings.

Content Trends: Take My Picture
More and more users, especially millennials, are using apps such as Snapchat, Vine, Instagram and Pinterest. These channels are completely image or video-based, and according to Forrester, they are seeing more engagement (likes, shares, comments) from users. I’m not seeing many advisors using these channels professionally, but the lesson here is that we can certainly incorporate more image-based content into our other channels.  That means you should incorporate visuals into your content strategy if you are serious about your social media presence. You can’t just post links to articles from around the web to your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts and expect your followers to engage with the content, or even see it. Confirmed by Zach Kitschke in Tech Republic, “The strongest brands are adapting and creating a clear visual social media strategy.”

What Are People Saying about Me? Online Review Sites 
Last year, the SEC provided guidance on the use of online review sites for financial advisors. Gone are the days when advisors could ignore sites such as Angie’s List, Google Places, and Yelp by citing compliance concerns and industry regulations.  According to Forbes, if small businesses are not paying attention to online reviews, it should be a priority in 2015.  This article cites research by Ipsos; a whopping 78% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews. In addition, Google favors business profiles with lots of reviews in local search, so if advisors want to be found online, it’s important to claim their online real estate.

• Read more on the Importance of Local Listings for Financial Advisors.

Metrics
We’ve covered channel developments and content trends. What’s left? Metrics. Gartner analyst Jennifer Polk said that 2015 will be a year for optimization; brands will spend less time investing in new platforms or developing content, and more time looking at metrics to sort out what’s working and what’s not. One way metrics could be more effective in the future is that social media analytics may eventually integrate with your CRM. Integration is everywhere!  In the meantime, it’s time to look at your Facebook insights for channel growth, engagement from your followers, and website traffic  and conversions using your website metrics tool.

Your turn What other social media trends have you observed taking place?
 
Amy Sitnick is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a senior marketing manager for the SEI Advisor Network. www.seic.com



You might also be interested in:
Getting Started With Social Media: Enlist Help!
How Financial Advisors Can Identify New CPA Relationships through Social Media
3 Tips for Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy
 

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