Do Successful Financial Advisors Actually NEED Social Media?

Provocative title for a blog posted on a social platform, but a question that needs to be answered by every successful FA before investing any real time on social.

Note: this will be less prescriptive and more discovery based than many blog posts of mine.

Should a successful #financialadvisor be on #SocialMedia vs. Do they ‘Need’ Social Media?

Like many things, the answer to this question depends on one or more of the following:

  1. If you are listening to social media ‘experts’ (who get paid for getting you to use social media) their answer will be a resounding and enthusiastic yes.
  2. If you are listening to many older advisors that hate social media their answer will be an emphatic no.
  3. If you are growing your practice and are early in your career the answer will likely be a strong maybe.
  4. If you have a thriving and mature FA practice and are getting lots of #referrals the answer will likely be a probably no.

The vast majority of people promoting social media use for FA’s are also addicts of the service they promote. 

If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard this before: social media and smartphones are absolutely a dopamine driven and designed addiction.  They are supposed to make you want to use them more and more to be ‘connected’...for whatever that is worth.

As Cal Newport, author of the book “Deep Work” explains, just because something has some good features doesn’t make it a good thing for everyone (my paraphrase…buy the book).

There are many ‘good’ things associated with social media that when measured apart from the overall experience can be described as beneficial…however, overall the effect on most people and FA’s particularly, is negative.

The path forward, to decide whether or not social media is good for you, is to answer the following questions:

1. Are your clients using it? 

  • If you are a successful FA you should have a mature client base (full or close to it) and you should be getting referrals consistently (if not, let’s talk).  Social media, when a financial advisor doesn’t need to use it to find more clients to survive, should be evaluated (always!) as to whether or not it will bring you into a deeper relationship with your current clients.  If your best clients and referral sources hate social media…you don’t need social media.
  • On the other hand, if you are still needing to grow your business to survive…social media may be a really good way to rapidly grow your network and meet new prospects.  Let’s be real, massively high percentages of young professionals are on it all the time…for good or bad.

2. What social platform are your prospects on and what platform do they actively use?

  • I get asked by clients and other folks frequently some version of the following: “How should I post to ‘x’ platform to get my target market of ‘y’ to respond?”  My answer is always the following:  Are they on that platform and actively using it?
  • If you know your target/ideal client profile (and you better) the next step is to do some research to find where on social (if) they are actually active.  One of the best ways to find if ideal clients are on a social platform is to search the groups feature of that platform.  You may not be able to join the groups, but you can tell by the number of groups and the number of members if that is a good possibility.
  • Don’t just look for specific profession based groups (dentists for example) as you might not be able to be a member of those groups even though it is valuable to see how many and what type they are.  Instead, also look at common activities of your ideal clients.  For example, I am actively looking for FA’s that love fly fishing and live near great fly fishing destinations.  Many of them are members of groups that I can join as well around a passion (addiction?!?) that we both share.

3. Will you be using social media with a strategic plan and under a strict time and calendar limit?

  • If you aren’t using social media with limits and specific focus you are just using it for entertainment and will be the product.  The degradation to your ability to use your prefrontal cortex (decision making) will have a cumulatively negative impact on your personal happiness and your ability to grow your business as a direct result of your basically choosing to ‘go back in the Matrix’ like Cypher.
  • If you do decide that social is essential, then you need to organize, plan and measure everything you do associated with it…just like with an investment portfolio…

Here is the straight truth for those of you that are making over 400k per year:  you don’t ‘need’ social media.  You may like it (be addicted to it) and you may be told that you need it, but you don’t.

If you have 50 clients you can get all your business effortlessly from referrals from those same clients and from how you engage with your community.  Don’t buy into the ‘hermit mindset’ that all the marketing tech people and social media pundits are selling you that everyone is online and only buying online.  That is not wholly true.  Some are, but many of them aren’t your ideal clients because they are distracted addicts.  

Remember, I am talking about 'needing' to use social media. If you want to use it and will be able to do so without being another social media all means go for it.

Get back to being human, find ways to meet people in the ‘real world’ and spend most of your time serving and enjoying your current clients.  No matter what the ‘experts’ say, referrals are always the best way for a successful financial advisor to grow their business.

No realistic sales/growth strategy is a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and while I would argue strongly and with mathematics that referrals are just as fast to results as any traditional or marketing tech form of sales...they take time, consistent effort, measurement and reflection and learning.

I get what it's like to be a #businessowner and a #financialadvisor at the same time. The process can be incredibly lucrative, and often quite overwhelming. You don’t have to make great money and be miserable inside. The first step is to imagine something different and then find a path to that vision that you believe will work.

Related: What Do I Do When I Get ‘Bad’ Referrals From Great Clients?