With people spend an average of 55 minutes a day on Facebook, more and more planners need to start taking advantage of this powerful medium, says social media expert Amy McIlwain.

“People no longer trust advertising, they trust their peers,” McIlwain, president of Financial Social Media, told attendees of the Women Advisors Forum in Dallas on Tuesday. “You need to get out there and have a presence in this media. If you don’t get on board with this, you competitors will and you will lose market share.”

However, many planners hesitate to do so as regulators work to clarify how to use social media channels while remaining in regulatory compliance.

One important strategy is a simple one, McIlwain says: Beef up the privacy settings on your Facebook site.

McIlwain urges planners to go ahead and use their personal Facebook accounts, but create work or personal groups. Whenever someone new sends a friend request, she sorts them into one bucket. If they can’t add value in any of her areas – for work, for friends or other areas – she doesn’t accept the friend request.

FINRA understands social media is here to stay, McIlwain says. While the regulatory body has established some guidelines to follow, ultimately each planner must follow his or her own B-D’s rules first. Some only allow Twitter. Others use every social media channel, but not Twitter.

“It’s all over the map,” McIlwain said. “The good news is more and more B-Ds are getting on board.”

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