Advisors Asset Management is reaching out to the 37,000-plus registered reps and independent advisors in its network to help them begin or perhaps expand on their social media endeavors to help improve communication with their clients and attract new advisors to their firms.

While some advisors and broker-dealers have already established some social media presence on popular sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, many others are still holding back due to regulatory and compliance concerns.

AAM's eServices team, which was found in 2010 and has spent the past year and half building its own social media sites and social media expertise, knows the relative novelty of social media practices in the financial services industry can be a bit overwhelming for advisors and reps who know they need to start participating but may not know exactly where to begin.

"We can do a lot based on our clients' needs to help create policies and procedures for social media," said April Stout, director of AAM's eServices group. "We're here to assist them at different levels and stages of their social media development and really help them figure exactly what their needs are."

Stout said the eServices team right now is proactively contacting its 100-plus broker-dealer firms to advise them on social media best practices, help them set up their first presence on sites like LinkedIn and help navigate them through and around potential regulatory potholes while still raising their profile with current and prospective investor clients.

"The longer you're in involved with social media, the more long-term benefits you'll get," Stout said. "While younger advisers and investors are definitely using social media more, older generations are embracing it and it's really just about adding another communication medium to your toolbox."

Last year, a survey by social media application developer Socialware found that 60% of financial advisors already use social media for business purposes and almost half of these reported generating new referrals directly from establishing a social networking presence.

The survey also found that use of social media by financial professionals is expected to grow more than 70% by the end of 2011 as firms and individual advisors continue to make a more concerted effort to tap into this potential goldmine of new clients and services.

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