This time of year often means time to catch up on work issues that are not seen as a top priority. For advisers, social media tends to fall into that bracket. Perhaps this summer it should become one.
Social media is far from being a new thing. LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and as now has over 500 million members in 200 countries. Twitter was set up four years later and now receives 1.6 billion search queries each day.
When I search LinkedIn for financial advisers, the first page does not show any companies listed (apart from those who have job vacancies), just personal names.
This means a click through to the individual’s page, then a search around for the company’s website to see if they are a suitable business with the right authorisations to provide the advice needed. Would it not be better to create a corporate page to aid the client’s search?
Over on Twitter, there are few advisers that post regularly. One who can be found doing so often is fellow Money Marketing columnist Robert Reid. He tells me social media can help create a positive market presence and lift both the corporate and individual’s profile. However, it is not the place to promote products and services.
“In many ways, it’s best to tweet as an individual with a clear statement that nothing said is advice,” he says.
The FCA considers social media as a financial promotion and all activity must meet the financial promotion rules except for advertising brands, services and costs.
The regulator’s social media rules should be set out in a firm’s compliance manual and all blogs or comments reviewed regularly. You can find more guidance here: www.fca.org.uk/publication/finalised-guidance/fg15-04.pdf
I always recommend advisers used LinkedIn corporately. To get the best out of it, link to as many people as possible who could be potential clients, join relevant groups and send messages when someone you know is promoted or has a work anniversary. You can do a lot with the free service; however, consider paying for LinkedIn Premium if your blogs and comments result in new clients or useful contacts, as it will increase your reach.
Twitter, meanwhile, is the place where the news breaks and where journalists find instant stories to follow up. But bear in mind it is difficult for advisers to use Twitter for a corporate presence as compliance requirements can eat up the 140-character allowance.
It is estimated that around one third of advisers do not use social media for business regularly, mainly because they do not have the time to do so. Why not try it out now while clients are away? I would bet my bottom dollar it generates new business. Then there is no turning back.
Kim North is managing director at Technology & Technical