We have been running our social media survey for five years now to gauge how financial advice firms use social media platforms in their businesses. The presence of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become so ubiquitous in our everyday lives that their use from a business perspective has become inevitable.
And our survey supports this; in 2014, 58% of financial advice firms surveyed were utilising social media in their business. In 2018, this is now 70% of firms. Of course, the use of social media in advice firms will reach saturation point as not every firm will use it, but the trend is clear: firms are increasingly embracing social media.
The reasons that firms are doing this are varied, but 57% of respondents to our survey this year said that it was to be seen to be keeping up with modern communications systems, which was just ahead of attracting new clients (55%). Perhaps surprisingly, only 40% of respondents noted search engine optimisation (SEO) as a factor in their decision to utilise social media. Owning your firm’s brand on social media can be advantageous, since social media profiles often tend to emerge on page one of search engines owing to their global prominence. This also prevents others from setting up profiles in the name of your business.
One area in which advice firms have sharpened up their social practice over the past five years has been in the area of providing formal written policies for their staff in regard to social media. In 2014, only 25% of respondents were providing such documents, with a further 52% unsure of whether such documentation was in place and 23% definitively knowing that they did not.
By the time of this year’s survey, 25% had become 58% and it’s clear that firms are now taking their social media responsibilities seriously and understanding the damage that unchecked social media use in the name of the firm can realise. And from 52% being unsure of the existence of a social media policy in their firm in 2014, only 11% were unsure this year, highlighting that financial advice staff are increasingly aware of their responsibilities. There was a slight rise (23% to 30%) in respondents saying that no such policy exists, but this could support the view that staff are increasingly aware of such documentation, moving from the ‘don’t know’ to one of the more certain categories.
Finally, why are firms not using social media? The most popular answer is that respondents don’t believe that it’s relevant to their business with 45% of respondents citing this. This is down since 2014 though, when 77% of respondents chose this. Other reasons cited were lack of time/resources at 33%, lack of knowledge/understanding at 13% and fear about how it could negatively affect the business at 9%.
It is clear that social media use is on the rise, with 70% of firms actively engaged in the practice. LinkedIn (used by 57% of respondents), Twitter (40%) and Facebook (37%) are the most popular platforms, with marginal gains of 1% for other platforms such as Instagram since 2014. It is hard to imagine that the use of social media will drop any time soon amongst financial advice businesses, with adoption and usage clearly on an upward trajectory.