I've put on my annual to-do list that sometime this year I'll create a Facebook page for my Inside Information newsletter, and lord help me, I may even start twittering before long, probably just to talk about the interesting developments I read about or encounter and point people to other great sources of information as I run across them.
Which means I'm about to stick my toe into the dreaded Social Media world. At the FPA Retreat, there were two great sessions about social media, both featuring Bill Winterberg, who is rapidly becoming a personality in the financial planning space. After seeing the world through his eyes, it looks like the company web page will soon be outmoded and taken over by the company Facebook page--which offers more interactivity, more immediacy and more intimacy with clients than anything you do with the web.
The combination of a Facebook page with videos on the web, allowing prospective clients to see you and (sort of) interact with you before coming into the office seems to be especially powerful, and if you use at least one of those videos to answer questions that are coming up a lot from clients, you kill two birds with one stone: you address client questions before they call your office and take time out of your day, and you show new prospects that you're on top of the things they're thinking about.
But... This brave new Social Media world is only available to a small percentage of the advisor population: those who are RIA-only, or those dually-registered advisors who work with a broker-dealer whose compliance department is social media friendly.
This could be one of those huge trends that leaves the majority of advisors behind. When all the Fortune 500 companies have their own Facebook pages, and advisors are prohibited from offering the same level of communications, suddenly our profession looks a bit anachronistic, and out of competitive balance.
What's the solution? I honestly don't know. My first sense about Facebook, formed some years ago when my adult children began using it, was that it was a colossal waste of time. Now, as more and more people connect through it, it seems like an important way to join the 21st Century, the new version both of web pages and e-mail, kind of a combination of both in one place. If the compliance departments are all waiting for the regulators to issue final guidance on this issue, well, I think it's going to be a long wait, especially since the technology is constantly evolving.
I'm curious whether you're feeling like you're behind the curve, or being held behind the curve, or whether you're going to do this Social Media thing like I am this year--or whether you're doing it now, and how it's working for you.
Does anybody have an interest in "friending" me or my newsletter, or following me on twitter? Or should we all just forget the whole thing and assume that Facebook and Twitter are just a passing fad--like a number of people said about in the 1990s about a new innovation called "The Internet."
What do you think?