Last week a number of large financial service firms, along with Hearsay Social, LinkedIn and Twitter, shared insights around online marketing at the SIFMA social media seminar in San Francisco. Though a number of themes emerged from the conference, a major one was that social media could be an instrument for advisors to create their own identities in an increasingly cluttered and commoditized world.

Here are eight themes touched upon by panelists:

Avoid Becoming A Commodity
“The confluence of technological developments, such as roboadvice and regulatory changes from Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule are transforming the wealth management industry. Human advisors face unprecedented commoditization pressure. Only those advisors who can both one, utilize technology to free their time to focus on the 'human' aspects of financial advice, and two, engage on all the social, mobile, and digital channels preferred by their clients will survive and thrive in this new age,” said Clara Shih, CEO and founder of Hearsay Social.

John G. Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management—U.S., added, “Technology is both the disruption driving commoditization of advice and a value add for advisors. Advisors have to run ahead of the commoditization.”

Educate Leaders And Create Ambassadors
Sunayna Tuteja, director of social media and online communities at TD Ameritrade, Inc., has a proactive approach to social media that is content rich. She said, “Get the content out to the right audience at the right time, using the right medium.”

TD Ameritrade is experimenting with Periscope. “The capability was shovel ready. We deployed our key market strategist,” said Tuteja. Using a large Twitter audience, the strategy was to get organic engagement.  “It was delightful to see the engagement.  People don’t want the sanitized version,” she added.

There is a social media response team at TD Ameritrade to hear what is being said. “We empower them to be the voice of TD Ameritrade,” said Tuteja.  “Social is the new 800 number.” 

One thing they are working to do is arm ambassadors within the organization with the content to share. If the associates share the content, she said, “Now it is a person.”

She advised finding the real thought leaders that can take content that might not be fun and sexy, but they can make it more engaging. She encourages those associates at TD Ameritrade to tell the story in their own voice.

She noted that even Tim Hockey, president at TD Ameritrade, likes taking selfies with other people. She then explained those are actually “Bunchies,” which are selfies with a bunch of people.