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Social media is one of the best ways to engage with existing and potential clients, but compliance issues and a lack of strategy make it hard to know where to start. Here are some tips for leveraging social media for financial advisors.
In Schwab’s 2021 RIA Benchmarking Study, 58% of firms reported generating leads from social media. You’d expect that number to actually be a lot higher considering that the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors found that between 34% to 39% of Americans turn to social media for financial advice. But compliance issues and a lack of digital marketing experience can make leveraging social media for financial advisors a pain.
Here are a few tips to help you get a compliant social media strategy in place and start generating new leads from that large pool of potential clients in search of financial guidance.
Because your posts on social media can be seen as a kind of advertising, they’re subject to similar regulations as your other advertising efforts. That doesn’t mean you can’t use social media, though. It just means you have to jump through a few extra hoops and be careful about what you’re saying and how you say it.
Some of the compliance hurdles for financial advisors include the need to keep records of all social media activity going back at least three years. That sounds like a tall order but there are a lot of archiving tools available that can do this for you. Advisors also need to list all social media accounts associated with their business on their Form ADV.
The biggest compliance issue of all, though, is the need to make sure any posts from any accounts associated with your firm comply with FINRA’s fair and balanced communication rules. These are the same rules your other advertising is subject to. But because social media is often a faster, more dynamic marketing tool, it can be easy to overlook the wording or omit information for the sake of space then ends up making the post-non-compliant.
For more information on compliance, you can read FINRA’s Regulatory Notice which details the latest regulations and guidance. However, here are some general best practices for making sure your social media strategy is compliant:
You might have to be more careful about what you post and how you word things, but that still leaves a lot of room for you to position yourself as a thought leader and engage with your target audience. Here are four ways to do just that.
With social media, the key is to cultivate a consistent brand that appeals to your target audience. Are you the quick-witted advisor that always has a joke or pun for every situation? Or would you prefer to skip the jokes and position yourself as the calm voice of reason? Maybe you want to land somewhere in the middle and be a that approachable expert, like the smart friend that everyone calls first when they’ve got a question.
Your brand might be something else entirely. The key is that you clearly define it—and base it on what you think your audience will connect with most. That way, when you’re reviewing a post, you can make sure the tone and wording match that brand.
For a social media strategy to gain traction, you need to post regularly and often. The exact frequency of posting depends on the platform. For Instagram, recommendations range from 3-7 posts per week while Twitter recommendations range from 3-7 posts per day.
So actively managing a single account can take anywhere from 10-20 hours a week and that’s time you simply can’t afford to take away from actually serving your clients.
If you’re just dipping your toes in, for now, you can get away with using a free scheduling tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck (for Twitter only). This way, you can just go in once or twice a month to create and schedule the posts you want to publish for the entire month. Check them for compliance. Schedule them. Then, forget about it.
However, if you really want to optimize this lead generation channel, you’ll need a more active social media presence: respond to comments, comment on other posts, follow relevant accounts, and share relevant posts from those other accounts (just to name a few things).
For that, it might be worth delegating the job to a social media-savvy staff member. That way, they can do the leg work and you just need to come in as needed to review and approve what they’re posting.
One of the burning questions you might have while reading this is, “Okay, but what should I post about?” While that ultimately comes down to what makes sense for your personal brand, the options are almost limitless (except for the limits of FINRA regulations).
You can post about the services you provide:
You can post about your hobbies and free time to relate with your audience:
You can talk about current events in the markets (but avoid making predictions, recommendations, or claims):
You can share your blog or newsletter:
You can post educational and thought leadership content (as long as it’s not seen as specific recommendations for investments or financial products):
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to engage with your audience while still staying compliant. And a good strategy uses a healthy mix of different kinds of posts. So go for a mix of insights, information, and friendly engagement.
Those sample tweets above are from some more established Twitter accounts that post about finance and wealth management. When you’re just starting out, commenting on posts from established accounts like those and engaging with the other users commenting and sharing their content is a great way to get your own account in front of the audience that you’re trying to target.