social media and financial servicesAlmost any thought leader will tell you that social media and financial services should go hand in hand. But still, many in the financial industry just aren’t convinced.

I recently asked Bill Winterberg a series of questions about social media that I know are on the minds of many a financial professional.

Bill Winterberg, CFP®, is the founder and CEO of FPPad, a technology and business consulting firm to financial services organizations. If you haven’t seen Bill’s work before, trust me. He knows his stuff.

Why does social media matter?

Social media matters because more consumers are using social media to find answers to their questions and learn new things. It has never been easier to find information relevant to one’s interests and collaborate with like-minded individuals throughout the world, and social media makes all of this possible.

There are literally hundreds of social networks out there. Which ones do you recommend RIAs use?

I recommend RIAs use social networks that are accessible, meaning anyone can discover content without needing to jump through hoops to find information or manage an account login. Anyone can search for hashtags and keywords on Twitter, and anyone can search for videos on YouTube. Those are the two sites I think advisors should start using first.

Many brands have a presence on four or five different social networks. Does the same standard apply to financial planners?

No, financial planners don’t need to establish a presence on multiple social networks. I think financial planners can select one or two social networks and focus their energy on getting the most out of the ones they choose. No matter how many social networks are used, financial planners should make it ridiculously simple for their audience to find the planner’s social profiles and facilitate interaction and engagement.

How much time should an RIA devote to social networking?

RIAs should expect to invest a good portion of time up front setting up social profiles and getting familiar with the nuances of each social network. Once that is complete, I feel RIAs can be very successful on social networking in about 15 minutes a day.

How can RIAs determine the ROI of social media?

First, identify the investment being made in social media activity. I use a program called RescueTime to monitor how much time I spend on social media websites. Then capture information on the return side of the equation. Ask every prospective client how they heard about the RIA, and measure how many people engage with the RIA on social media websites. Use the data to identify the social networks with the most engagement per unit of time, and continue developing ways to facilitate discussions on those specific networks.

How long does it take to truly see a ROI?

ROI is significantly dependent on the quality of content being distributed. Some RIAs have excellent written content or even popular videos, so they’ll see positive ROI faster than other firms. But if several months pass with little measurable ROI, I think RIAs should reevaluate their social strategy and increase the quality of their content.

What is one question that you wish I had asked you, but didn’t?

You didn’t ask about the compliance side of managing social media. I feel that compliance should never be a barrier to using social media. Quite the contrary, all of the issues with compliance and social media can be addressed using innovative products and solutions on the market today, all for a reasonable cost. Instead of using compliance as a scapegoat against using social media, I think advisers can identify proactive ways they can meet their compliance obligations while developing a community on a variety of social networks.

Hey readers! Do you have a question that you wish I had asked Bill?  Send it along!