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The number of advisors accessing social media via smartphones and mobile devices jumped significantly over the past year, and more and more advisors are accepting social media as a viable way to boost their business, according to American Century Investments’ third annual Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study.
Although the majority of financial advisors still access social media through laptop and desktop computers, the online study of 300 financial professionals found that roughly 35% of those polled indicated they used smartphones to access social media for business and personal use, versus 27% in last year’s study. Also, 22% used mobile devices such as iPads and other tablets, compared with only 11% last year.
The study also found that six out of 10 advisors are using social media for business at least several times a week, with 27% accessing these sites on a daily basis. Facebook continued to hold the top position with 73% of advisors having profiles versus 55% in 2010, but LinkedIn and Twitter jumped to 62% and 27% participation, respectively, vs. 45% and 16% respectively in 2010, the study found.
Almost nine out of 10 financial professionals have a business or personal social profile or account. “Reading expert commentary and insights” continued to be the leading planned use of social media this year, seeing a significant jump to 22% from 13% last year, the study notes. “Sharing news and content relevant to my clients” was the second-most popular planned use, followed by “researching people, for example, prospects, contacts and current clients.”
There was also a significant jump in advisors maintaining a professional blog—17% in 2012 vs. 9% in 2010.
“A blog is a great way for advisors to get their message out while revealing something about their personality, which helps in prospecting and building relationships,” said Jennifer Sussman, director of diigital engagement for American Century Investments. “It takes commitment to continue sharing insights, but when advisors do it well and optimize for search engines, they're able to draw traffic from a much broader audience than one-on-one conversations can reach. Plus, the lengthier format and auto-archiving capabilities make it easier to meet compliance requirements within our regulated industry.”
As in previous years, the study notes that advisors' single biggest apprehension about using social media for business purposes remained regulatory or compliance issues. "Interestingly, however, that has varied—but is trending down overall —over the past couple of years: 42% listed it as their 'single biggest concern' in 2012, vs. 38% in 2011 and 47% in 2010," the study notes.
Nearly tied for second were worries about a potential privacy breach at 19%, and concerns about company or home office restrictions on use at 18%, the study says.
However, 60% of study participants reported that their firm has a formal social media policy in place, up from 53% one year ago.
This year’s poll found 57% of respondents saying social media is an “emerging trend with significant future potential” for businesses like theirs, up significantly from 44% in 2010. “We saw that 21% of advisors believe social media is already producing tangible results for their business, which is a significant jump from just 14% two years ago,” Sussman said. “Also, 14% felt using social media had ‘high overall value,’” which was again a significant increase from only 8% two years ago.