Some 43% of financial advice professionals attribute a measurable return to time invested in business-related social media use, according to a new report from American Century Investments. The report matches other recent research suggesting social media has only increased in importance for producing advisers as a means of communicating with current and potential clients.
Research Now, a global online research panel provider, collected the underlying data from hundreds of practicing financial advisers and broker/dealer professionals, via an online survey fielded in March 2015. The results show LinkedIn has helped 74% of financial professionals “in developing expertise or building their business.”
While adoption of premium/paid social media by advisers has been slow, professionals reportedly see LinkedIn Groups as the most important free social media offering, whether as a way to connect with peers, advisory colleagues or other service providers.
As in other fields slower to pick up social media as a way of doing business, financial advisers consistently cite “professionalism” as a paramount virtue when communicating with clients and prospects via a social media network. Pretty much all advisers (95%) surveyed said they “have at least some experience” using social media for business purposes. This includes the over 60% reporting moderate to extensive experience.
NEXT: What good does social media do, exactly?
One question in the survey asked advisers directly how “being connected for business purposes” on social media impacts their relationships with colleagues and clients. A majority of advisers (52%) suggested they would in fact be more likely to work with a social media contact, while 45% suggested being connected with someone on social media would have no effect. Just 2% indicated being acquainted with someone on social media makes them a less suitable business partner or client.
The actual business uses for social media seem to vary pretty widely from firm to firm, but patterns do emerge. Reading expert commentary and keeping tabs on trendsetters was cited as a top use of social media by 28% this year, up significantly from earlier editions of the study. Also prevalent were sharing news content with colleagues and clients, cited by 17%, and researching potential clients or colleagues, cited by 16%.
Other common uses included brand promotion, posting market or current event commentary, competitive intelligence and gathering customer feedback, among others.
When it comes to why advisers follow particular asset managers or other colleagues on social media, it is most often to “get content I can’t find anywhere else,” cited by 54% of advisers this year. Thirty-seven percent say they maintain social media contact with colleagues because they are “engaging and personable,” while 33% use social media to maintain easy access to industry peers.
The full research report from American Century Investments is available here.