I was told off by a fellow IFA recently for using the word dinosaur in a pejorative fashion.
What I had said was IFA firms that do not allow their advisers to use social media were dinosaurs. Someone had misread my statement and thought what I had said was that IFAs who do not use social media are dinosaurs.
Frankly, it is about choice, not compulsion. It stimulated a lot of debate on the subject some of it thought through and some of it vitriolic (the usual “trolls”). Some of it slightly ironic because the exchanges that took place were on an IFA social media site!
Social media use by IFAs is complimentary and supplementary, it is not about replacing other more established and traditional marketing methods. It is, however, effective if used as part of an integrated marketing approach.
IFAs who use social media perhaps in conjunction with their website stand a good chance of reaching a wider audience than might be reached by traditional marketing methods. If we agree that marketing is the way that we bring our products and services to the attention of an audience then using different ways to broadcast that message makes real sense.
A simple approach to its use might be to link it closely to the advisers website. For example, regular and suitable blogs posted on a website might well improve search engine optimisation and thus bring you to the attention of a greater number of people.
But why stop there? If you can, then tell the world through social media that you have posted a blog then an even greater number of people might become aware of you.
Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook are all examples of a way in which very many people are communicating with each other these days, so why would IFAs deny themselves the opportunity to be heard in an increasingly noisy world?
Some perceive the compliance regime that might be applied as a barrier to use of social media but the regulator has taken a very sensible view of the use of social media and has stated that it takes a “media neutral” stance
In other words, if I can say to the proverbial “bloke in the pub” that he should read the blog that we have posted on our website, then I can certainly tweet that he should read the blog that we have just posted on our website. In other words, it really is the case that social media is media neutral.
But of course one of the things we know that you shouldnot do when using social media is publish overt sales messages. The community that uses social media is interested in information and guidance it does not want products pushed down its throat. Encourage people to engage with you with good quality information and guidance and pace and lead them and who knows they may well want to become clients.
But some may question if they are the “right kind” of clients? In our experience, the answer is a resounding yes.
If the messages you transmit through social media are the right messages (so no difference here from any other form of marketing) then the people who respond are likely to be the right kind of potential client.
I may well have been a bit harsh with my dinosaur comment but it would be a very brave person indeed who denies the power of the internet in general and social media in particular.
Nick Bamford is executive director of Informed Choice