The Putnam Investments Survey of Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media found that among advisors using social media for business, 55% considered LinkedIn their primary social network.

The survey used detailed questions to determine which features and actions on LinkedIn could be attributed to gains in assets. It found that:

  • Advisors who use more features were likely to be using LinkedIn’s advanced feature set
  • Those who use 10 or more features, as well as LinkedIn’s advanced feature set, attribute markedly greater asset gains to social media activity

Which actions correlate to the greatest asset gains?

Writing recommendations. Although it is banned at nearly all firms, LinkedIn’s recommendation tool — “Jim, would you recommend Bob for (fill in the blank)?” —is used by 87% of advisors who use 10 or more LinkedIn features. This cohort reported the second-highest average gain in assets attributed to social media activity.

Posting network updates. Advisors who stay top of mind by regularly posting articles and other updates to their networks are seeing gains. Several firms have begun allowing their advisors to post approved content as network updates; the trend could continue if the ROI in the survey is corroborated by other data.

Sending InMail. The least-used feature by successful LinkedIn advisors, InMail is LinkedIn’s solution to cut through the clutter of traditional email marketing. Another feature that is not allowed by many firms, InMail could see an uptick in adoption as a key part of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator premium product offering.

Requesting recommendations. This feature, seemingly at odds with industry regulations and almost universally prohibited by firms, is used by 70% of LinkedIn expert advisors to great advantage. Those requesting recommendations from their network attribute the highest asset gains to social media activity.

Posting to groups/pages. Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn Groups are not dead. Groups are great for getting your ideas and opinions into your connections’ news feeds and email inboxes.LinkedIn-Feature-UseAs more firms put supervisory controls in place to limit risk, and as industry regulations are refined and clarified, company policies will likely evolve to accommodate the increasingly social nature of the business of financial advice. The pace may quicken as the industry sees greater ROI attributable to specific activities on social networks.

The 2014 Putnam Investments Survey of Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media was conducted in partnership with Brightwork Partners LLC among 729 advisors nationally who have been advising retail clients for at least two years. The online study was conducted in late July 2014.

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