Social media can still be so powerful. Some in the industry have tapped into the ability to use tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others to get to know clients better, enhance both their business and personal brands, get more eyes on content and even bring in additional new business. Unfortunately, others have not succeeded and quickly came up to the assumption that “it’s a waste of time.”

With both audiences in mind, here are 11 mistakes to avoid when it comes to social media:

1. Not being authentic. There are many advisors in the industry that are pushing out content they did not create themselves. Some try to pawn “ghost-written” content off as their own, but the audience is not stupid. In an industry with “trust” at the heart of everything, sharing others’ content, like it is one’s own, is a fast way to lose an audience, which then might never return.

Content that does not line up well with the firm’s brand or even the advisor’s unique individual brand will most likely be rejected.

Matt Peterson, president of Make It A Great Day and AdvisorFlex websites, says to “avoid duplicate content.” He tells his clients that posting identical canned content that hundreds or thousands of advisors might be using can hurt search engine optimization (SEO.) If an advisor is relying on a content provider that serves this industry, Peterson advises to “twist it” and “make it your own.”

2. Being too salesy. The advisor that just posts advertisements all the time is missing the point of “social” networks. Imagine being at a social event and someone boasts about themselves nonstop. Does that person have people that want to talk with him or her at the end of the event?

Peterson would rather see a post of an advisor playing pickleball than someone bragging about their achievements. Most of the non-authentic content is way too promotional, he adds.

Consider putting the target market first. Encourage the audience to engage with content by asking questions, conducting polls and having live Q&A discussions, with compliance approval, of course.

3. Putting yourself at risk. There are bad apples are out there. Advisors need to be cautious to not share too much, or one might just be asking for an identity theft issue.

Crystal McKeon, chief compliance officer at TSA Wealth Management, had her identity stolen from social media over a decade ago. She advises people to avoid the “many innocent looking surveys on social media that answer anything from ‘Which Friends character you are?’ to ‘Who would be your celebrity best friend?’” She adds, “While many are harmless enough, they could also be designed to steal personal information that could be used to hack your account or access other personal information.” Ask yourself, is it worth the risk?

McKeon said, “While everyone wants to be celebrated on his or her birthday, maybe social media doesn’t need to know your exact age, so, at the very least, remove the year.”

Unfortunately, cybercrime is real and it is not going away.

4. Always being long winded. It is a trend we might not like, but it is true … We are too busy. Society as a whole seems to get busier every year. We do not have enough time in our days. If content online rambles on and on, viewers will abort videos, click off text and abandon anything that does not initially get to the point.

Online there is so much competition for the little time we have. There are over a billion websites. While four out of five of those sites might be inactive, there are still a ton of distractions, which that will only increase.

Jack Heintzelman, a financial planner at Boston Wealth Strategies, said, “You want short, digestible posts that someone can click and read through and find value in. You want the LinkedIn algorithm to work for you so you can have more impressions.”

Why else do advisors want to be concise with some communications? Americans check their phones almost 100 times day and they use them for over five hours a day. If people are mainly digesting content through the small screen of a phone, they are less likely to want tons of words.

5. Not considering online advertising. Advisors that want to grow, which is most of them, should not rule out advertising on social networks, but most are not doing it. Yes, it is not the way older advisors grew in the past, but in today’s day and age it can show great results. Yes, “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick,” but advisors can get help, if they do not have the time or motivation to figure it out on their own.

One point that advisors get is that in 2023, the stock market had the “magnificent seven” that dominated the S&P 500. One of those seven stocks was META, which gained 184%. That means Facebook boomed, because of it billions in U.S. dollar ad revenues. If Facebook advertising did not work, would it really be making that much money?

It is time for most advisors to learn a new trick.

6. Not measuring. The best part of online marketing is that there are many tools that can measure success. Many metrics are even free. Advisors should ask themselves, what analytics are being measured and how often?

For smaller advisors, they are going to have a trouble running branding campaigns versus big well-known brands. Instead of pure branding messages, their marketing efforts should have one goal: achieve direct results. For example, a call to action might be to receive a white paper, get a free consultation, attend a private event or other ideas like that where leads can become clear and success can be measured. Advisors all need a well-thought-out strategy. Then they need to know if it is delivering a positive return on investment.

Most likely, one size does not fit all. If pushing out the same content on all the social networks, know if those actions make sense. Likely something that performs well on LinkedIn might bomb on Instagram and vice versa. Ask tons of questions. For example, is the plan to target Gen Z on TikTok or baby boomers on Facebook? Do not guess at all these considerations. Know the strategy and measure it.

Test everything, from different YouTube thumbnails to trying keywords versus hashtags on Twitter. Know if there is a better day to post and better time within that day or night. Learn which social network is performing better and why? Is the traffic going to the website a mobile-dominant audience? What drives the most leads? Ask lots of questions and then measure.

Also, consider direct research of clients and prospects (if non-client info can be captured.) The more information that is gathered the more insightful decisions can be made to adapt to the ever-changing landscape online.

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