That's the message delivered by
As clients (and everyone else) spend more time online, people increasingly expect to interact with their advisors through social media channels, argues Swift, of
"To me it's really not a question anymore of if we do social media, but how well we do social media," Swift says. "Your competitors are online, so your participation online is important."
Yet when Swift asked the audience of RIAs about their use of various social platforms, the smattering of raised hands suggested that many advisors remain hesitant about the use of social media. It was a decidedly unscientific poll, to be sure, but advisors in attendance expressed reluctance on a variety of fronts — concerns about compliance, doubts about the ROI they can from social channels, and worries about dedicating time to tend to a social media presence amid all the other responsibilities of running a practice.
Swift dismisses all of them.
On compliance, what Swift says is "the No. 1 concern" for many advisors, she believes that the fears of running afoul of regulators have been overstated. Certainly, she says, advisors should update their compliance manual to keep in step with the regulatory and business requirements — addressing areas like how social content is archived, who within the firm has permission to post content, and who will supervise the social media programs.
Advisors also need to distinguish between interactive content, which generally does not require pre-approval, and static content, which typically does. But those distinctions also apply to more conventional marketing materials, Swift argues.
ROI MORE ELUSIVE
The evidence she offers to demonstrate an ROI is more spotty, however — she tells a story of an advisor who landed a multimillion-dollar account by combing through
"It's still anecdotal," said
The amount of time advisors need to dedicate to tending their social media presence will vary from firm to firm, but Swift suggests that it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Advisors could post one engaging tweet each day, for instance, or set aside a half-hour each week to mine
LISTEN BEFORE TALKING
As with any new endeavor, advisors can venture into social media gradually and at their own pace. "You don't have to run before you walk," Swift says. "You want to listen and learn first. You want to listen before you start talking."
She also suggests that advisors should view social media not as a platform unto itself, but rather as an integral component of the firm's marketing plan. She recommends a hub-and-spoke model, with the firm's website serving as the hub and the various social efforts — a Twitter feed,
Formalizing a strategy within the broader marketing plan can also lessen the intimidation factor that has kept many advisors sidelined, Swift advises.
"Writing it down will help internalize it and give you a roadmap," Swift says. "So just like you recommend that your clients have a financial plan, I would recommend that you have a social media plan that's a part of your marketing plan."
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|Source:||Source Media, Inc.|