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Advisers March to the Social Media Beat

kasina's What Advisers Do Online 2010 report shows that advisers continue to increase their use of social networks. Social media, with its inherent networking capabilities and access to rich media, has opened new avenues for advisers to connect with peers and clients.

In fact, use of social media has proliferated in all user populations, and advisers are no different. More than three-fourths of all advisers use social media. Overall use of social media rose from 72.3% in 2009 to 77.5% in 2010.

Advisers at independent broker/dealers and independent RIAs are the most prolific users of social media, in excess of 85% in each channel. Advisers at insurance firms and regional broker/dealers are not far behind with more than 75% in each channel.

More than 22% of advisers use social media at least daily.

Firms that are still on the fence about social media need to begin piloting efforts to understand and evaluate opportunities now. Advisers clearly are using social networks to expand their contacts and media to learn and share content. Additionally, the lines between business use and personal use online is starting to blur. Advisers connect, plan events and share information with friends, neighbors, business colleagues, peers, and-increasingly-strangers online.

So, the opportunity for firms to connect with advisers on social media sites is growing. Firms need to:

* Evaluate key sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for opportunities to participate in social media.

* Monitor what is being said about the firms themselves online, so that they can react appropriately and manage these perceptions.

* Create steering committees composed of company stakeholders from sales, marketing, public relations, compliance, legal and IT.

* Develop social media policies for their employees to provide guidance for participation in social media.

* Experiment with different sites and analyze results to determine next steps.

More advisers use YouTube, the video-sharing site, than other social sites. Adviser use of YouTube grew from 48.2% in 2009 to 56.1% in 2010, and 49.1% of advisers can access YouTube from work.

YouTube is the perfect medium for asset managers to develop a branded channel in which to distribute video content cost-effectively, including commentary by portfolio managers, economists and research analysts. Some firms post advertisements they are running on television. Others include educational videos on investment topics and current events. Posting videos on YouTube offers great opportunities to boost the firm's brand and broaden reach of advisers and investors.

Adviser use of LinkedIn, the professional networking site, grew from 47.8% in 2009 to 55.1% in 2010 and 53.9% can access LinkedIn from work. Forty-seven percent of advisers belong to at least one LinkedIn group.

LinkedIn is an excellent site to extend professional relationships with advisers using:

* Pages for firms

* Profiles for wholesalers

* Groups for discussion

* Polls to gather information.

Facebook and Twitter enjoy comparatively less use by advisers than LinkedIn and YouTube. Forty-nine percent of advisers use Facebook in 2010, compared to 42% in 2009. Only 40% of advisers are able to access Facebook from work, fewer than YouTube and LinkedIn.

Adviser use of Twitter is low compared to other social media. Use grew from 13.3% in 2009 to 14.2% in 2010, even though 49.1% of advisers say they can access Twitter from work. Only 5.4% of advisers say they follow industry experts on Twitter.

Adviser use of social media use has increased since 2009. About half of all advisers can access social media sites from work. Asset managers need to participate in social communities to understand the interests and concerns of advisers and to connect with them where they are. Advisers who share or comment on asset manager content help build credibility and extend the reach even further to their networks. Leading firms are developing a presence on social networks to monitor and participate in what is being said about them. While social media is still nascent in the B2B realm, firms have an opportunity to evaluate opportunities by listening to what is being said about them, developing guidelines for participation, and learning about their customers.