Facebook has now surpassed Google in its number of daily visitors, and more than 71 % of United States internet users are on Facebook. If you’re not using this tool to promote your business yet, now is a good time to start. Consider the following:

  • The percentage of baby boomers using social media is rapidly increasing and they are among the most active users on social networking sites.
  • Young HNW investors increasingly interact online and are likely to view an advisor negatively if he or she does not have a social media presence.
  • Facebook profiles provide ways to anticipate client needs, giving advisors unprecedented insight into major life changes.

There are nearly a billion users on Facebook, and their profiles, connections, families, and friends make up a goldmine of information you can use to research prospects, learn about clients, and promote your practice. Here are 10 tips on how to use this free resource successfully.
Compliance Comes First: Currently, use of Facebook and any static content (like Facebook profiles) must be approved and supervised by a principal, but posts do not have to be individually approved. However, posts and messages must be archived and are regulated according to existing FINRA rules on advertising and client communications. A good rule of thumb is to stick to general financial topics, using more formal modes of communication for personalized client recommendations. It’s also an excellent idea to include a prominent disclaimer on your profile to drive home that nothing you post should be construed as financial advice.

Although a thorough discussion of social media compliance is beyond the scope of this article, FINRA regulatory notices 10-06 and 11-39, as well as the SEC Risk Alert dated January 4, 2012, provide a measure of guidance. Ultimately though, you need to familiarize yourself with and abide by the policies of your firm.

Be casual. Don’t treat Facebook updates like standard press releases. Use casual language and save official notices or updates for your website.

Post media links. Pictures, videos, and multi-media content get 53% more “likes” and 104% more comments than text updates. Share things like: Photos and videos from client events, links to media appearances, and office pictures. Link to videos explaining complex financial matters in simple language, or record your own video commentary each month and upload it.

Share your successes. Did your office raise money for charity? Participate in a community clean-up? Host a fantastic event? Updates that show the personal side of your business and highlight community activity are perfect for Facebook.

Promote webinars, client events, resources, and media appearances. Facebook is great for extending the reach of your existing marketing efforts to a larger audience.

Sponsor contests. Facebook users love contests and they are among the items most likely to be commented on or shared among users. Winners could be randomly chosen from commenters, or linked to another site for entry.

Research clients and prospects. Today’s online world makes it easy to search for a person’s name and uncover social media profiles and other personal information. With increased access to this information, you can research client needs and make meetings more profitable. Most users post important life events like weddings, births, and relationship statuses, giving you the perfect chance to suggest tailored services at future meetings.

Ask for introductions. Instead of blindly asking for referrals, use your knowledge of your client’s network to ask for introductions to specific people. If you'd like to know exactly what to say, check out this article.

Use Facebook Insights to improve.  Facebook Insights is the name of Facebook’s analytical platform, and it can show you how visitors are interacting with your page, what time of day they visit, user demographics, what links were clicked, and most importantly - what updates are popular with your visitors. Reviewing the analytics regularly can help you improve your interactions and get more out of your marketing.

Use Ads. Because Facebook profiles contain a wealth of information, you can target your ads with incredible precision. Are you launching a marketing campaign targeting 55+ doctors who enjoy golfing? Or single women 40-60 who live within your city? Facebook can give you that level of control over who sees your message, greatly increasing the return on your marketing investment.

There is still a general aura of fear that permeates the advisory world where social media is concerned, but the fact is that these tools are here to stay.  Learning how the major platforms, like Facebook, function and how they can fit into your business plans in a safe and effective way is imperative. As with all powerful tools however, they must be used responsibly, or not at all.  If you’re not comfortable tackling social media on your own, don’t hesitate to seek the counsel of credible social media specialists with a track record of helping advisors.

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