LinkedIn. Facebook. Twitter. Though keeping up with the latest social media and social networking trends can feel like a never-ending game of catch up, financial advisors and other financial professionals who understand how their clients use these channels--and how they can be incorporated into a broader PR strategy--stand to be richly rewarded with new clients, specifically the tech-savvy Gen X/Gen Y consumer base.
According to a recent TD Ameritrade survey, 27% of Gen X-ers and 33% of Gen Y-ers go online for broad news about the economy and world markets. Comparatively speaking, just 21% of baby boomers act this way, as do a paltry 14% of people born before 1930. Simply put, advisors who fail to plug into the social network matrix are missing out on building a future client base.
With baby boom clients fast approaching retirement, the 105 million-member strong Gen X/Gen Y demographic is poised to emerge as an advisor's largest potential new business source. Yet many advisors aren't using a social media strategy to deliver their message to this group.
The difference between social networking and social media is an important distinction to understand. Distilled to its core, social networking is the act of engaging across various sites, utilizing a one-by-one interactive approach. Contrarily, social media is part of a broader PR strategy that uses the popularity of these sites to broadcast distinct messages, much like how PR professionals traditionally utilized print publications and TV shows to broadcast mass messages to clients.
But reaching an online audience is not without its challenges. Financial professionals across the board must walk a fine line between connecting with this core demographic and respecting the regulatory restrictions that are in place. A robust plan that identifies target audiences while respecting the limitations of regulations will ensure they are on the right path.
Ultimately, creating, adopting and utilizing a social media strategy is an exercise in brand building. The platforms that broadcast your message are in place, but advisors must have something to say that resonates with the online crowd. A cohesive strategy that encompasses thoughtful content generation and careful research, as well as respect for regulations, is a must.
Anybody can create a profile or send a tweet, but connecting with potential clients requires more than a few initial conversations and a one-way sales campaign. Too savvy to be seduced by a "set it and forget it" approach, the Gen X/Gen Y audience requires a-near constant online presence. To them, how frequently you tweet, blog, and update your Facebook page could signal how often you'll check in with them. Creating a profile but failing to doing anything with it can actually damage your brand.
To truly impress this coveted younger demographic, advisors must first seek them out. Keep up-to-date with the latest social networking sites and create new connections from existing contacts to expand your potential client base. A personal approach is paramount to securing new business and staying ahead of the competition.
Above all, disseminating messages that resonates with Gen X and Gen Y is paramount for social media strategies to achieve maximum effect. You can have thousands of Twitter followers, but if they're the wrong people, you're spinning your wheels. Successfully plugging into the right networks, and delivering timely messages can secure business for years to come.