Eighty-five percent of financial advisors in a nationwide survey by Putnam Investments said they use social media in their practices today, up from 75 percent in 2014.
Perhaps more intriguing to advisors, since 2013, the percentage of money manager’s reporting success in gaining clients via social media rose from 49 to 80 percent. Plus, the median asset gain reported was $1.9 million, with an average gain of $4.9 million.
Make no mistake – younger financial consumers, especially those millennials born in or after 1981, count on businesses to communicate with them via technology.
A separate study from Corporate Insights found that millennials account for 43 percent of all mobile banking and finance usage. Another 51 percent said the use of digital technologies by financial services firms is “very important to them.”
Marketing-wise, those numbers tell financial advisors a compelling story – to grow their businesses, they need to ramp up their digital marketing efforts, especially via social media. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+, financial advisors who ignore social media – especially Facebook or Twitter – do so at their own risk.
In particular, financial services companies can use social media to accomplish one significant task: to build their brand. Some financial services providers have already figured this out.
“Our biggest and fastest growing demographic are females between ages 25-and-34,” said Nick Braun, founder of PetInsurance.com. “I attribute part of this to the online nature of our service, but I also have to give credit to our social media presence, especially on Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.
“All are where these younger demographics hang out. Having a strong social presence where we can share with our community has helped us attract these new, young customers.”
So where can a financial advisor start with his or her social media campaign? Try these tips, for starters:
• Generate “buzz” – Post notices about new projects, local events your advisory firm firm is linked to, and money management tips that resonate with younger financial consumers (like how to best save for a home down payment). Ask for comments, follow-up, and keep building your network of followers.
If a follower posts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, don’t procrastinate. Answer questions, and offer discounts for new business via referrals. Social media consumers are no different than other U.S. consumers – they’ll respond to a good deal.
• Keep social media outreach inside the “circle” – The best social media marketing campaigns succeed via team play, said Jessi Carr, a digital marketing specialist with Inseev Interactive, in San Diego. “My biggest tip for financial advisory companies looking to use social media to gain younger clients is to have an active team that can definitively assist those who reach out for help over social channels,” she said.
“Many millennials now prefer to use social media when looking for support with a product, as opposed to calling a help line or email, and expect a faster response.”
• Use keywords for your industry – When using sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, proper keyword usage is essential for finding the right people (and allowing them to find you). “Loading your content with relevant, search-friendly keywords is a sure way to increase exposure and get the conversation started,” said Jessica Moreno, social media and brand account manager at Active Web Group, in Hauppauge, N.Y.
• Be an expert, and share the credit – “It’s one thing to post your opinions; we encourage that,” Moreno said. “But increase your credibility by sharing articles from major publications that support your claims. If someone from a major financial publication shares your prediction, your claims will appear more legitimate and professional.”
To reach the best audience for your financial advisory firm, Moreno advises spending most of your time on LinkedIn.
• Leverage video outreach – LinkedIn and YouTube, among other social media sites, make it easy for money managers to reach out to younger financial consumers through video.
“Short videos work the best,” said Paul Ptashnick, a small business marketing consultant. “Thankfully, with today’s mobile technology, it’s easier to make videos than ever before. According to Wired, YouTube reaches more millennials than “any single U.S. cable network” and 80 percent of millennials use video to help them decide which products to purchase.”
Ptashnick advises posting short 60-90 second educational or weekly question-and-answer videos.
Try any or all of the social media marketing tips listed above, and see if they don’t make a big difference in your younger client recruitment efforts in 2017.
Chances are, you’ll learn something about technology, and about millennials - and you’ll gain more clients, too.
Brian O'Connell is a former Wall Street bond trader, and author of the best-selling books, The 401k Millionaire and CNBC's Guide to Creating Wealth. He's a regular contributor to major media business platforms, including CBS News, The Street.com, and Bloomberg. Brian may be contacted at [email protected].