Taking A Different Approach to Social Media: How Financial Services Firms Can Build Their Brand

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Despite the development of digital platforms that offer compliance protection, there still seems to be hesitation and skepticism among financial advisors when it comes to social media. According to an SEI quick poll surveying 185 financial advisors, nearly 56% said they were only ‘tiptoeing’ into having more of a business presence on social media platforms, despite the business building opportunities—nearly one in five respondents claimed to have secured a new client as a result of their participation. So what’s holding financial advisors back? When respondents were asked what their biggest challenge was with engaging in social media, 37% said coming up with frequent and relevant content to put out through social media platforms.

Developing a social media strategy can certainly be challenging, not least of all because it requires frequent attention and fresh content. While thought leadership content is one approach that many firms have taken, others are thinking outside the industry box. One example of this is Balentine, an Atlanta-based wealth management firm, whose unique approach to social media was recently highlighted in an article from The Wall Street Journal. The firm’s Facebook wall “is crowded with news and insights from staffers, including messages from industry conferences, summer-reading recommendations and descriptions of kids’ baseball games…it looks like the Facebook page of an outgoing and intelligent person.” Balentine’s communications chief, Joe Stallings, explains the reasoning behind this strategy, “People don’t go to Facebook to look up mutual-fund performance…we use it to let people know that we’re people with families who like to share things.” Their presence on Facebook and Twitter has allowed the firm to differentiate itself in a relatable and intelligent way.

Financial marketers take note: social media content does not have to be financially focused! It is most effective when it puts a human face on the firm’s brand by providing target audiences with an engaging experience.  Financial advisors should view social media campaigns as an extension of their firm’s personality and brand, and the content shared in these forums should reflect that. Stallings says of social media brand building, “Branding is about the immediate associations people make with a company …people say its refreshing we’re not talking about investments and products and services…” As long as the content being produced reinforces the firm’s overall brand strategy, than thinking differently about the kind of content shared can make all the difference for financial services firms looking to engage target audiences in social media in a proactive and engaging way.

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