In our digital world, it’s becoming increasingly important for financial advisors to leverage social media to inform and educate clients. Social media provides an avenue for advisors to differentiate themselves from the competition and build thought leadership.

In a recent study, “nearly 40% of respondents use information from social media when making investment decisions,” stated Jim Delaney of Marketwired. Here are some ways that advisors can leverage social media to be more successful.

1. Build relationships

Using social media to interact with clients is becoming a differentiator for advisors today. Social media provides an opportunity to build relationships with clients by responding to their questions, providing advice and many other ways. According to Alex Pigliucci, a global managing director at Accenture, “investors are demanding online resources to help them better understand investment strategy and advice” so it is increasingly important to be available on social media.

2. Show expertise and thought leadership

Social media is a great avenue for advisors to showcase their intellectual capital, expertise and thought leadership to their clients and prospects. It’s not a place to sell products or services; instead, it is a way to “humanize” your brand and reach out to people to promote it. By sharing quality content, social media is a great way to share your expertise with your followers and have the chance for it to spread by word of mouth and social sharing.

3. Provide advice and quality content

The key to social media is to share content and status updates that are engaging and informative. As a financial advisor, you want to provide financial advice and tips to help people with their financial planning. People are likely to become a fan of your page if they receive valuable industry information and helpful content. And when they become a fan, they are likely to share your content with their friends—increasing your brand awareness and establishing you as a thought leader in the industry.

4. Be active in groups and communities

LinkedIn is a great opportunity for advisors to join relevant groups and communities and engage in conversations. Many people go online looking for help with their financial planning and ask questions in the discussion boards. By crafting a well thought out, professional reply, advisors can increase their awareness and show their expertise to help gain new clients.

Twitter specifically offers “tweet chats” where people can engage in conversation by using the same hashtag. It is a great way to talk about specific products and engage with people personally by answering their questions.

5. Post pictures and videos for engagement

People are visual beings. It has been proven over and over that posting compelling pictures and videos increases engagement and sharing with your posts. This is especially helpful on Facebook and LinkedIn where pictures are prominent in the newsfeed of your followers. For example, you can post a short video of you giving a piece of financial advice every week.

6. Be professional

It’s easy to steer away from being professional on social networks like Facebook and Twitter that are more informal and laid back. But be careful not to hurt your professional reputation with social media. Don’t talk too much about yourself, your family, your individual preferences or your personal life on your professional business page. This is likely to turn away the people that are interested in your products or services. Instead, show your personality through your writing and save your personal life for your private social network accounts.

7. Encourage conversation

The best way to engage your followers is to encourage conversation. After all, it is a “social” network. The best way to do this is by asking questions, using a fill-in-the-blank status update or having a specific call to action. And if people have a question in return, be sure to respond to them in a timely manner. If they don’t think you are listening, then they are less likely to engage and might even stop following you.

Here’s a great example from Jeff Rose, CFP and financial advisor for Good Financial Cents. You can see how his question sparked a conversation with some of his followers and he responded within 24 hours.

jeff-rose-financial-advisors-on-social-media

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If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, don’t be overwhelmed by all of the social networks out there. We recommend starting with building an all-star LinkedIn profile and once you have mastered it, expanding to Twitter, Facebook and Google+. With quality, engaging content and a little patience, you’ll begin to realize the benefits of social media can have for your business.