2015 Social Media Trends Financial Advisors Can Leverage

2015 Social Media Trends Financial Advisors Can LeverageFinancial advisors who use social media and digital marketing in their businesses are gaining more clients and wealthier clients than they were a few years ago, according to a study conducted by Putnam Investments in 2014.

Social media is about everything from service to building relationships. The challenges advisors face with social media involve a bigger, yet scattered audience; more diverse, yet fragmented social platforms; and an ever more competitive environment.

Social Media London, a social media platform based in the United Kingdom, released a study last year which states one-quarter of the world’s population uses social media. This means that 1.73 million people are posting, pinning, tweeting, vining and Instagramming. Every 60 seconds, 4.7 million posts are uploaded to Tumblr, 277,000 snaps are shared on Snapchat, and more than 5 million videos are viewed on YouTube.

In the world where social media is constantly changing, it is important to stay on top of the trends. SEI Advisor Network recently released the trends it believes financial advisors should note.

LinkedIn: Have you been thinking about writing a blog? Not sure how to get started or what technology to use? Now you can use LinkedIn to host and distribute your content to all of your LinkedIn connections. This is a great option for compliance-conscious financial advisors. Using LinkedIn to publish content, vs. a standalone website or blog, makes archiving easier. You can also add background images to your profiles. If you have a Premium LinkedIn membership, LinkedIn will even provide you with a gallery of appropriately sized images to use. If you do not have premium membership, have a professional picture taken of yourself, or your office space – something which conveys more about you and your work than just your headshot.

Another new feature is improving search functionality. “Search” is one of the best features of this platform and it just got smarter. Want to connect with someone, but not sure how to spell their name? LinkedIn will present likely connections based on your network. The platform now provides a search feature once only available to Premium members – searching through second- and third-degree connections. Why should you care about this? That is your referral base, and now you can sift through these individuals more efficiently.

Facebook: No longer a platform to find and meet friends, Facebook is becoming a hub where brands meet their fan base and if brands want to be seen, Facebook is encouraging them to advertise. Also, new for users is the “Call to Action” button. You can select from seven calls to action including Contact Us, Sign Up, Watch Video, or even Shop Now. This is a helpful feature for financial advisors looking to promote items such as a Market Minute video or a newsletter sign-up.

One step ahead of the “Call to Action” button is already in the works and that’s retail shopping, directly from your Facebook (or Twitter) newsfeed. Instead of directing advertisers to take their followers off of Facebook for transactions, fans can now use the “Buy Now” function. This functionality had a limited release in 2014 and will be rolled out more broadly in the future.  We do not expect financial advisors to sell investment strategies directly to consumers using this feature, but it is good to know and understand the concept of “social selling.”  More importantly, financial advisors can caution clients to watch spending habits, as this new online addition could make it easier to make frivolous purchases which can drain personal savings.

Visual Mix with Content. More and more users, especially Millennials, are using apps such as Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest. These channels are completely image or video-based and, according to Forrester, they see more engagement (likes, shares, comments) from users. The lesson, here, is to incorporate more image-based content into your content strategy. You cannot just post links to articles from around the web to your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts and expect your followers to engage with the content, or even see it.

Jacqueline Woerner, the social media manager for Emarsys, says social video is up-and-coming, holding two major benefits for brands. First, audio-visual storytelling is emotionally compelling, so share your story and display your products with beautifully crafted messages. Secondly, vloggers and micro-vloggers are a great way of getting your message in front of your audience, but don’t collaborate with influencers, only. Common users produce a lot of content on new platforms such as Vine and Instagram. Tap into this productivity and make user-generated content part of your marketing strategy.

Online Review Sites. Last year, the SEC provided guidance on the use of online review sites for financial advisors. Gone are the days when advisors could ignore sites such as Angie’s List, Google Places, and Yelp, by citing compliance concerns and industry regulations. According to Forbes, 78 percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews. In addition, Google favors business profiles with lots of reviews in local search. So, if advisors want to be found online, it is important to claim their online real estate.

Metrics. Gartner analyst Jennifer Polk said 2015 will be a year for optimization. Brands will spend less time investing in new platforms or developing content, and more time looking at metrics to sort out what’s working and what’s not. One-way metrics could be more effective, in the future, is social media analytics may eventually integrate with your CRM. Integration is everywhere!

In addition to SEI’s trends, Woerner published her social media trends for 2015. She believes the social advertising trend from 2014, which saw Snapchat’s first ad; video ads on Instagram; auto-play video ads on Facebook; and a greater variety of Twitter cards, will continue this year. In addition to new and enhanced social advertising channels, she expects to see exciting new ways of firmly integrating social advertising with brands’ data bases and omnichannel strategies for sophisticated and contextual targeting.  “If you build your social advertising on rich and accurate behavioral data stemming from website, email, apps etc. and if you closely interlink it with your other channels, you open the door to the Cockaigne of social advertising with endless opportunities, from reactivation campaigns by serving ads to inactive or bouncing email contacts, to automating social retargeting and retention campaigns based on previous actions of your target audience. And bear in mind, the better integrated with your other marketing resources, the more relevant and tailored your social advertising will be and the less users will feel commercialized,” she wrote.

She also believes mobile will be integral this year. With a worldwide mobile penetration of 93 percent, major social networks are constantly improving their mobile presence. 2015 will inevitably see optimized web and social media sites becoming the norm and geo-targeted, contextualized real-time content an indispensable component in every digital marketing strategy.

Other trends Woerner sees:

Agile marketing. Oreo, king of real-time marketing, since its Super Bowl 2013 Dunk in the Dark tweet, has recently been dethroned by KitKat with its brilliant #Bendgate tweet. Agile marketing is not only about going viral, it’s about relevant content at just the right time and spot-on reactions to external influences with real-time marketing happening on much smaller dimensions. 2015 will encourage the monitoring of trends on a large, general and a small, audience-targeted scale, every minute of every day.

Anonymity. Though progress in terms of big data, wearable tech, and the Internet of Things pushes the boundaries of people’s perception of privacy, recent developments highlight the demand for anonymity, with platforms such as Whisper, Ello and Facebook’s independent Rooms erupting the landscape. If and how brands can tap into this trend remains to be seen, since users are not likely and, indeed, opposed to, interacting with brands in this space.

Private messaging. Private messaging has been around for a while, but brands are overdue to fully seize its potential for customer interaction. The beauty of messaging apps lies in the rich diversity of content formats.  Media companies, for instance, are starting to use the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp for live media coverage. A great example from the B2C sphere is Durex’s activity on WeChat, allowing users to ask intimate questions about an otherwise taboo topic in China. Private messaging is key in most people’s lives and, in 2015, more brands will shift their focus to this channel, making it part of their social media marketing, starting with sharing icons and slowly moving to sophisticated campaigning.

*Advisors – please ensure your use of Social Media is compliant with your firms’ policies.

For more information on Summit Brokerage Services, visit www.joinsummit.com or contact us at (800) 354-5528.

Summit Brokerage Services is a member of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.

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