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Financial services professionals often shy away from social media, fearing the time commitment and compliance risks. The upside, however, is too great to ignore, social media experts in the industry say.

“Take Facebook alone: Nearly 80% of Americans spend time on it each day*,” says Jon Pauley, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at Ameriprise Financial. “Social media is a powerful place to connect with customers and prospects.”


While larger financial firms have created systems that make social media marketing easier for their advisors, ease of use doesn’t automatically translate into success. Pauley recommends these five best practices for advisors:


Get help with compliance.

Work with software that mitigates your compliance risk by screening both inbound and outbound content for keywords and phrases to avoid. At Ameriprise Financial, for example, its GoSocial platform completely automates this process — and allows advisors to post real-time custom content as well as schedule preapproved content in advance.


Be dynamic and be yourself.

Social media is about authenticity, so by all means, be yourself. Even when you’re posting preapproved content, take the time to add a personal note when possible. This will distinguish you from your colleagues and give clients and prospects every reason to embrace the authenticity of your social media profile and content. "We see personalized content routinely improve our advisors’ social media content performance,” Jon Pauley says. “We have one advisor who uses his social media feed to regularly celebrate his road-racing activity, which gets huge engagement. His clients love it."


Listen and engage.

Identify opportunities by watching what clients and prospects post online. Spot a life event in the news feed of a prospect you’re cultivating? Go ahead and gently reach out. A change in relationship status, the birth of a child, a job change or move: All of these are great signals for expanding opportunities. Sending a congratulatory note or a link to a relevant article can be a good approach.


Leverage your staff.

Stay active! Use your staff members by granting them “on behalf of” access so you don’t have to manage all of your social media postings. But remember to monitor and reply to comments on your posts yourself. This helps reinforce your authentic voice on social media.


Connect your social network and in real life (IRL) network.

One way to do this is to prospect by searching related connections on LinkedIn®. See a prospect with a promising job title? Ask an existing client or contact for a real-life introduction to this prospect and you’re on your way.

"My biggest piece of advice is: Keep it simple and start with just one social media channel,” Pauley says. “This will allow you to focus and gain confidence. If you can avoid overcommitting, you’re more than halfway to successful social media marketing."

*PEW Research Center, survey conducted March 7-April 4, 2016.

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