A NEW survey has found a sharp increase in the proportion of US financial professionals who are using social media for business purposes, with news monitoring and sharing ranking as the most popular activity.
The findings of the American Century Investments’ 2011 Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study are significant for corporate investor relations departments because they show that financial advisors are receptive to receiving real-time news and information via social media.
The study, which was conducted via an online survey at the end of last year, found that 86% of the respondents have a business or personal social media profile, up 13 percentage points from 73% in Q1 2010.
Monitoring news top activity
Fully 77% of of the 303 respondents said that in the future they planned to use social media for business purposes mostly to monitor and share news and commentary rather than as a promotional tool for their own businesses.
Among the 57% of advisors who are currently using social media for business purposes, monitoring industry or market news is the most common activity. Third most popular is reading expert commentary, while fourth is sharing news with clients. Using social media to research clients and prospects is the second most popular use.
Even among the respondents who say they use social media for personal reasons, sharing news, monitoring topics of interest and posting commentary were the 3 most common activities.
Part of the survey asked financial planners, brokers and RIAs about their interest in receiving information from investment management firms like American Century. The findings, which can be applied just as readily to corporate IR departments, include:
- 57% indicate that firms are “smart to explore social media” (up 16 percentage points).
- 31 % believe social media is a “wise use of time and resources” (up 10 percentage points).
- 24% say “leading asset management firms are using social media to their advantage” (up 13 percentage points).
Asked what kinds of information they would like to receive from asset managers via social media, several types of information were mentioned, including:
- Updates, alerts or real-time information was of interest to over one-fifth of the participants.
- Information about trends, insights, expert commentary and news, current events or articles.
Facebook and LinkedIn tops, YouTube and Twitter growing
More than half (51%) of the participants, who had an average of 14 years in the business and an average age of 44, described their social media use as “moderate” or “extensive.” About 59% have accessed social media sites on a smartphone.
Meanwhile, 70% of the financial advisors use Facebook, followed by LinkedIn (55%), YouTube (23%), Photo Sharing sites (20%), Twitter (19%) and blogs (12%), while RSS and Podcasts were each used by 8% of respondents.
Interestingly, 17% of respondents said they use Facebook for both personal and business purposes, while 48% used LinkedIn for business purposes.
Concern over compliance drops
Respondents’ views about the value of social media for growing their own businesses is mixed. Few ranked the overall value of social media to their business growth as high, but the numbers are trending upward, the study finds.
Importantly, the percentage of financial professionals who said regulatory or compliance concerns were a barrier to their social media use dropped to 38% from 47% in the prior survey. In a new question, 53% said their firms have a social media policy or guidelines.
The findings in this survey are significant and suggest that IR departments that are not yet using social media need to start doing so or risk being left behind.
The complete 26-page survey report is embedded below: