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In the financial industry, larger companies typically develop marketing plans mid-year, seeking budget approval during the summer for the following year. Whether you work with a formal or informal process, you may still want to consider these key elements:

1. Goals – Financial advisor David Edwards underscores the importance of having a marketing plan and specific goals; without it, your social media efforts are dead. If you're a small firm, determine what you're striving to accomplish and then the efforts needed to get you there. Edwards set a goal of doubling assets every two years. Advisors might consider other goals such as:

■ New accounts or assets over a specific time period or from a specific campaign

■ Increases in engagement – Are more people viewing your content or sharing it with their peers? How does that compare to last year or last month?

■ A growth in your online community

2. Budget – While social media can cost less than other forms of marketing and outreach, it may still require a budget. If you're just getting started, take the test-and-learn approach. Test with a small amount, even as little as a few hundred dollars a month or just your time. Schwab's Tiles points out that many firms even reduce budgets for marketing and put more toward digital content. Today, most agree that the key is having good content. Small firms should realize their best content might come from their most passionate people, and such content may cost almost nothing if done properly.

3. Reporting – If you report on marketing activities, don't forget social media. Consider including metrics and even comments from the social world in reports on a monthly or even daily basis. It's smart to provide executives with a summary of how social media supported an initiative or met a business objective in a simple but compelling PowerPoint presentation. At Citi, metrics “used to be fans and followers,” says Eliason. Today, firms are monitoring metrics such as the following, which could be assembled either internally or by an outside agency:

Site visits and new customers – Whether you're focused on content or a campaign, you can track their metrics through Google Analytics (

Engagement – Through the number of views, comments, and shares of your content

Share of voice[1] – Are you driving the conversation? How much of the conversation in the social media world are you driving compared to competitors? Tools like SalesForce (; formerly Radian6) and Sprinklr ( are used by Citi to understand. But share of voice, a common measure with traditional offline marketing, is changing, as Putnam underscores.

Indeed, many firms have shifted how they measure their success as technology and social media has evolved. “It used to be, whether you were a phone or computer company, how many ads were you running at Lotus Software or Microsoft,” says McKenna, who formerly worked at an ad agency. “You'd say to the client: your share of voice is 11 percent and your top three competitors outspent you. Now, you need to up your spending.” Today, the focus has shifted away from share of voice as firms run fewer product-centric ads and instead concentrate more on creating compelling content that educates and informs (a strategy I've long embraced because it's more authentic and effective and less costly).

Let's take a closer look at Putnam and how its outreach and marketing has shifted with the boom in social media usage.

  • [1] Peter Meinertzhagen, “How to Calculate Share of Voice for Organic Search,” The YouMoz Blog, November 29, 2013, voice-for-organic-search.
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