Social media is evolving, and advisors may not be keeping up.

For most of the past 13 years, the ongoing recommendation for financial advisors from consultants and technology specialists was to get on social media, participate and use it to promote themselves, their services and their practices, and today, despite many changes, the message is much the same.

“If you zoom out and look at the macro picture on wealth management in general, when you think about the massive generational transfer of wealth about to happen, $84 trillion will change hands from baby boomers to the next generation,” said Doug Wilber, CEO of Denim Social. “That’s a seismic shift of who are the dominant investors and where they are going to be found.”

Denim Social is a platform that concentrates solely on the financial services industry, offering a suite of marketing and compliance tools and capabilities to ease firms’ use of social networks.

According to Wilber, almost half of the investors today say that social media has some impact on who they will hire as a financial professional. Advisors who do not have a presence on social media and who are failing to cultivate digital relationships with clients and prospects risk being left behind.

So Wilber’s chief message is for advisors to get to social media in some way.

But Where?
The method of engagement is more important than the particular social networks advisors choose to use, said WIlber.

“At the end of the day it’s more about the way you use social media than the channel,” he said. “Social media isn’t just a place to distribute content; it’s a place to build relationships. It exists first as a place for people to engage with each other, and engaging with people in a personalized manner is far more important than the network you’re using. That means thinking more deeply about the content you’re creating to engage with your audience.”

Too many entities use social media merely as a way to broadcast themselves and their content to the world, said Wilber, which has led to cluttered time lines and news feeds and increasing competition for eyeballs and clicks.

“Broadcasting content is only half of the story,” he said. “It’s insufficient to just be a publisher on social media. There are plenty of those already. You have to be someone who is engaging.”

Optimal Content
There is one type of content that tends to drive more engagement with financial clients and prospects than any other, said Wilber: “Edutainment,” or the combination of entertainment and education.

Advisors should draw on their knowledge and experience to educate social media users on financial topics, said Wilber, and harness their personalities to make their educational pieces as entertaining as possible. Ideally, content should represent the individual advisor’s authentic self, not a brand image.

“It’s all about owning your narrative and thinking about how you can differentiate yourself as an advisor,” said Wilber. “With the right tools, you can create a feedback loop in which you look at what content you are creating and what content is driving the most engagement, and decide what kind of content you should be leaning in on—but it’s still incomplete if you’re not following up the content with relationship-building efforts.”

Good content, then, will be informative but fun, he said. Posts should be part of a larger story that defines or describes the person behind them.

Advisors may want to do away with the Twitter threads, LinkedIn screeds and Facebook rants as their primary content: Video is driving the most engagement with social media users right now, said Wilber, not written or audio content. Similarly, the active social media audience has started to gravitate toward platforms that better promote video content and offer more tools for creators than the larger legacy social networks.

“We’re seeing a ton of engagement with short-form video,” he said. “In part it’s because short-form videos are not really about creating a thought-leadership piece or pushing a relevant article to someone. It’s about the host of the video displaying their authentic self, and that’s what really drives people, not the information itself.”

A Word On Social Networks
Though it’s most important for advisors to get on social media and start engaging, there are some networks that may be more suited for financial content than others. As social media has matured, each space has developed its own purpose and audience.

For example, LinkedIn, which is used in various ways by financial advisors and the greater financial services industry, is mostly used as a job search and job-changing site, not as a place for consumers to interact with businesses. Similarly, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary are primarily places where family and friends engage with one another.

“A robust social presence means keeping a profile on all of these channels where your customers are spending time,” said Wilber. “It also means refining those profiles—headshot, bio, pinned content—and then it becomes more about consistency. Are you posting consistently? Are you coming back and interacting consistently?”