Advisors and their firms might develop better social media strategies if they considered these five thought-provoking considerations from experts at the LIMRA and LOMA conference held recently in Boston.

1. Location-Based Check Ins
Several speakers promoted the benefit of using Foursquare, which allows individuals to "check-in" with each other based on their location from their mobile devices through GPS functionality. For example, a person could check in at a baseball game to see if he or she had other friends there. In many cases, people win "badges" for checking in and can be awarded the "mayor" title, with some establishments providing giveaways.

Another cool Foursquare feature is it allows the user to see "places" nearby one's geographic location. As you click on an establishment, "tips" can be read from others.

Think this is a fad? Wonder if it is just for young adults drinking at bars? Think again. More than 10 million people worldwide are using Foursquare, with over 3 million check-ins per day.

Theresa Kaskey, director of brand management and interactive marketing at John Hancock Financial Network, and two fellow panelists from New York Life and State Farm, say their companies are looking into location-based social media.

2. Social Media's Viral Effect
Drayton Martin, senior vice president, and John Wolfarth, executive vice president and director of digital operations at Mullen, a marketing agency, spoke about how social media is changing how firms talk with customers. Wolfarth encouraged the audience to engage in a relevant way. "Social media is the new word of mouth," he maintains.

The Mullen execs shared how social media provides added exposure when done well. The example they gave was the Darth Vader commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. Volkswagen purposely "seeded" the commercial before the game. In other words, they posted it on the Internet before it ran on television, and they saw 25 million pre and 45 million post impressions online. Those tremendous results came from a lot of brand evangelists spreading the word.

Martin cautioned the attendees, saying, "Stop thinking like a marketer." In this era, it is no longer 'This is our message, accept it.' She added, "Give something rather than just take. Gain affection."

Three companies noted for being successful with their social media approaches were E*Trade Financial, Home Depot and American Express. E*Trade promotes educational information, Home Depot offers do-it-yourself videos, American Express has a small business open forum. Providing free help to Web site visitors helps those firms convert some of them to paying clients.

3. Linking In
Jennifer Grazel, head of category development for financial services at LinkedIn, said businesses can no longer buy attention; they have to earn it.