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Latest Social-Media, Search-Engine Tips for FAs

This article was featured on Financial Advisor IQ on June 3, 2015. You can read the full article

Online presence is a must for financial advisors who want to extend their outreach and build their brands. Fortunately, three popular platforms — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — don’t have to take too much time or outside help, writes RIABiz. In addition, with our increased reliance on Google searches, FAs also stand to benefit from promoting their Internet sites or company pages through search engine optimization, according to Reuters.

Prior to any online activity, FAs need to check with compliance about any rules pertaining to social media and websites, says RIABiz guest columnist Seth Worby, an SEO strategist and Web marketer.

Advice practices can set up a company page on Facebook, which can help advisors reach younger investors. Worby recommends posting a mixture of professional and personal updates (kids’ pictures are just fine, he writes) on the Facebook page. But the focus should be on engaging the readership and making visitors return. Posts that trigger comments, opinion polls or giveaways can have this effect. Keeping a calendar for Facebook activity tasks and making a point of responding to user activity on the page will help advisors stay ahead of the game.

With only about 10% of Americans actually using the service, Twitter’s reach isn’t as substantial as that of Facebook. But 89% know about it, according to Edison Research data cited by RIABiz. FAs should take advantage of this 140-character platform to stay abreast of industry news and trends, retweeting posts relevant to their own readership. This can establish and maintain connections and help build brands. When sending out new tweets, the right “hashtags” — those bits of text that start with the # sign — can help tweets reach a wider audience. And, as with Facebook, it’s important to personalize a Twitter page, RIABiz points out.

LinkedIn may be the best social-media platform for financial professionals, says Worby. According to RIABiz, 67% of LinkedIn’s 200 million users have investment portfolios. In addition to displaying detailed information about the practice, including certifications and affiliations, FAs can use LinkedIn groups to connect with like-minded businesses and organizations as well as potential clients. Paying for a LinkedIn subscription lets you filter searches, view people who have visited the page and contact anyone on the platform.

The FA’s own company website is a great promotional tool itself — if prospective clients can find it, that is. When looking for a financial advisor, one out of five investors would rely on Internet searches excluding social-media platforms and advisor-rating sites, according to a Fidelity Investments study cited by Reuters. But search engine optimization, to seek that holy grail of a high Google ranking, can cost $5,000 to $10,000 annually when done by an outside consultant, according to Reuters.

It may be worthwhile for some firms, however. According to one advisor who spoke with Reuters, the SEO strategy combined with a strong social-media presence brought in about half of his business. For advisors not ready to take the plunge, however, effective baby steps include registering the business with the top listing services such as Google My Business, Bing Places and Yahoo Local, and business-listing sites Yelp and Foursquare.

Search engines like a lot of text, so having a well-written home page and distinct sections describing services can help on the SEO front. Images meanwhile can make sites memorable, says Reuters. And it’s good practice to link to other websites (and have other sites linked to yours) to establish credibility and satisfy search-engine criteria, according to the same source.

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