That social media stuff won’t work for me

By Amy McIlwain

Financial Social Media Marketing


I’ve always loved watching infomercials. You know, the really cheesy ones for cleaning products and kitchen appliances where they put them through different tests to show their effectiveness. I’m the person that sits there and calls out every bogus aspect about the comparisons:
  • “They wiped way faster with the competitor's one!”
  • “Who needs a vacuum that can suck up a pile of nuts and bolts on my kitchen floor?”
  • “I’m supposed to lug out that entire steam cleaning system every time I spill a drop of grape jelly on the tile?”
I watch every one of those commercials with one thought in mind: “This doesn’t actually work.”

When I’m at an event and speaking with advisors, almost all our conversations start the same way. “Oh, you’re with the social media company? That stuff won’t work for me.”

They approach our booth with the same attitude that I have when watching those infomercials, wanting to poke holes in the veil that is social media marketing. Lucky for me, I have the opportunity to hear their questions, and I’ve found that some of the most common concerns stem from some of the most basic misconceptions about social media.

Here are the ones we hear most often:

“That Facebook stuff is just for the kids.”

Sure, and five years ago, so was texting. Fifteen years ago, so was email. And if they aren’t on Facebook, they are on LinkedIn or Twitter. According to AARP, 85 percent of the population ages 50+ uses one or more social networks. Another study found that over fi­ve million high-net-worth investors are actively using social media to help them with their financial decisions. Also, think of all your clients who will soon be passing their money off to their kids. In the minds of that generation, if you aren't on social media, it means you have something to hide. A study this year by BRANDfog found that that 82 percent of people trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team uses social media. Your potential clients are on social media, and they are expecting and hoping you will be there, too!

“OK, so they are on social media, but only to stalk their grandkids or talk to their friends, not to find a financial advisor.”

Did you miss the section above about the high-net-worth investors and people searching for you on social media? If that’s not enough, think of it this way: People turn on their TVs to see the Packers clobber the Bears or to find out who shot J.R., not to learn about the new Budweiser bottle or the latest BMW model. But the marketing value is there all the same. It’s the basis behind almost every marketing campaign.

Newspapers aren't purchased for the updated restaurant specials and radios aren’t blasted through speakers for the public service announcements; these mediums are chosen because they have a high concentration of an engaged target market. Guess what your social networks are? Just that. Social media gives you easy, direct access to thousands in your target market, without costing you a penny!

“Sure, that's all great, but it doesn't change the fact that I can’t touch the stuff because of compliance rules.”

This is the scariest, touchiest and most misguided argument of all. I like the quote "We fear what we do not understand” and how it relates to compliance concerns with social media. Advisors and their compliance officers don’t always completely understand how social media works, so it’s easy to resolve to steer clear entirely. Through the hundreds of agents, advisors and compliance departments we've worked with, we’ve seen how shedding light on how to find proper (and compliant) use of social media can make the idea seem a lot less dark and scary. The same is occurring with FINRA and the SEC, as they continue to provide more targeted guidelines, freeing the hands of advisors. You’d be surprised at all you can do.

So after having spent years as a naysayer of all infomercial products, I feel I owe every one of those hosts an apology. I’m sure many of my arguments were probably based on my own preconceived notions and common misconceptions. Sure, having a questioning attitude is always a good approach (and it has probably saved me a ton of money during those late night bouts of insomnia), but I’ve learned it’s important to ask questions with an open mind, because you never know what you might discover.

I now use my Magic Bullet every morning, have a closet full of awesome Space Saving vacuum collapsed bags, and wear my Snuggie all winter in the office. And all because I stopped saying, "This won’t work for me” and started learning about how it could. Think social media won’t work for you? Post a comment below with your objections and/or questions.