Good news! We finally have some numbers to attach to all the discussion surrounding social media for financial advisors. The people at Nielsen (the same people who measure television audiences) recently released a report detailing social media use in the US. The report is rich with actual numbers and data. You can find it here

While you can read the report yourself, I thought it might be helpful to hit some of the highlights here.

These are the things that stood out to me:

Social media and blogs dominate Americans’ time online

According to Nielsen, blogs and social networks account for almost one-quarter of the time Americans spend online -- almost twice as much time spent on the second category, online games. This tells us that if you want to reach people who are online, the best place to start is with a blog and with social media.  

This also tells us that what people want when they go online is fresh content.  People are attracted to blogs (actually a form of social media) and social networks because both are regularly updated with new content. Nobody wants to read the same old stale website over and over again.

U.S. Internet users spend more time on Facebook than any other brand

And it’s not even close. According to Nielsen, U.S. Internet users spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook compared to 17.2 billion minutes on Yahoo, the next closest brand. Love it or hate it, that’s where the people are. 

There was a time when advisers joined local country clubs because that’s where the affluent gathered. While it may still be true, it’s becoming clearer that people -- including the affluent -- are also gathering together online. Today’s version of joining a country club may be signing up for social media.

Over twice as many people age 55+ visited social networking sites on their mobile phones than last year

This is the one that really jumped out at me. Talk about a powerful insight! We’re talking about people over the age of 55 (a key target market for a lot of financial advisors) who are doing something twice as often this year as they did last. And what’s that? Going online -- using a mobile phone -- to visit social networking sites! The top social networking site visited via the mobile Internet? Facebook.

Given this, can we really still say as a profession that “my clients don’t do that” whatever “that” may be?  After all, advisors’ clients tend to be educated affluent individuals with plenty of access to technology. Is it reasonable to think that somebody with an office computer, a home computer, a smart phone, and kids or grand-kids isn’t going to participate in social media? Probably not.

More women view video on social networks, but men watch longer

The point here is that people like to watch video. During May 2011, 31 million people in the US watched video on social networks and blogs. In the battle for online attention video is very powerful weapon. To learn more about this check out my recent blog post: "What Can Video do for a Financial Advisor."

Active social media users are influential offline

According to Nielsen, compared to the average adult Internet user, active adult social networkers are:

-- 33% more  likely to give their opinion on TV programs

-- 26% more likely to give their opinion on politics and  current events

-- 75% more likely to be heavy spenders on music

-- 18% more likely to work out at a gym or health club

It sounds a lot like these are people who lead an active lifestyle like to keep up with what’s going on and aren’t shy about sharing their opinions. People like this are often among the most influential and well-connected of their social circle, making them ideal candidates to provide you with referrals.  

If you don’t participate in social media, how will you know which of your clients are active in social media?

Social media can be a very powerful tool for a financial advisor.  What to know more? Check out the social media section on my website.


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