Advice practices have a social media presence, but referrals remain a challenge for many

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Most advice practices who participated in the survey are on Facebook (78%) and LinkedIn (75%).

The majority of advisers who attended BT’s recent social media webinars have a presence on social media, however only around a third are converting their social media activities to referrals.

Nearly 400 people attended BT’s three-part social media webinar series, during which BT conducted a survey on advisers’ social media usage, gaining valuable insights into advisers’ activities on, and perception of, social media.

“Financial services customers have increasingly switched to digital during the COVID-19 pandemic, with most now preferring online access,” [1] said Christopher Mather, Head of Platforms Distribution, BT. “Customers are also conducting more research into financial products online. It’s fair to say that they may also be reviewing financial advisers’ LinkedIn profiles, before engaging their services.

“Our social media webinar series was well-received because many advisers acknowledge that social media has a legitimate place in their marketing strategy, and they may be looking for guidance on best practice. We’re pleased we could offer them access to relevant tools and expertise.

“The webinar series is a great example of how BT supports advisers with their education needs, and in their endeavours to grow their business and offer quality advice to more Australians.

“We aim to be advisers’ platform partner of choice and help advice practices thrive,” Mr Mather said.

More details on BT’s social media survey findings are below.

1. Social media is an important source of referrals for some advisers

Around a third of advisers who participated in the survey (37%) have obtained up to five referrals from social media within the past 12 months, while half had not gained any referrals via social media (51%).

Related to this, when asked what their top objective is for using social media as part of their marketing activities, only 14% of advisers surveyed say it’s to build referral partnerships. By far, increasing brand awareness and sharing information with clients are advisers’ leading objectives for using social media (40% and 39% respectively).

Mr Mather said: “These results suggest that advisers may be trying to get the balance right between engagement and sales activities on social media. And, as with any digital media usage, there tends to be a cohort who are early adopters and, in this case, may be using social media to obtain referrals more proactively. Meanwhile, others are still making their way up on the learning curve.

“Generally we are hearing from an increasing number of advisers that establishing referral relationships is an area that they are looking to improve on, as part of their growth plans.”

2. Facebook and LinkedIn are advisers’ preferred social networks, while Twitter lags

Facebook and LinkedIn are equally popular with advice businesses who participated in the survey, with the vast majority of advice practices saying they have a presence on both (78% for Facebook, 75% for LinkedIn).

YouTube and Instagram are the next most frequently used social networks, followed by Twitter, where only 6% of advice businesses surveyed have a presence.

On an individual level, LinkedIn is the most popular network for advisers who participated in the survey (69%, followed by 60% for Facebook).

3. Room for improvement with updating information on LinkedIn

One in two advisers who participated in the survey (53%) have updated their LinkedIn profile within the last six months. However, a third could not recall the last time they updated their LinkedIn profiles (33%). While the majority of advice businesses surveyed are on LinkedIn, only 41% are actively posting on their company page; 31% of company pages are inactive.

“Over 10 million Australians are on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking platform,” Mr Mather said. “It’s surprising that advisers aren’t more active on LinkedIn; they may be missing opportunities to expand their client base and referral networks.”

4. Social media spend is low, but on par with small to medium businesses

The majority of advisers who participated in the survey (88%) say their businesses spend less than 10% of their marketing budget on social media.

However, this may be reflective of the fact that advisers perceive the most effective social media promotion is generated by their own employees (61%). Only 11% find that advertising through paid posts is effective.

According to Telstra’s Yellow Report on social media, one in four small to medium businesses (25%) do not allocate any marketing budget to social media costs. For businesses that do, the average allocated is 12% of the total marketing budget.[2]

Mr Mather concluded: “Like other businesses, advice practices are continuously learning how to best use their time in the fast-paced and crowded social media environment, so they can channel their activities to effectively grow their business. While many advisers are digitally savvy, they acknowledge that social media marketing is different to traditional marketing methods, and it’s great to see so many tune into BT’s webinars to improve their knowledge in this area.”

Register here to access the webinar recordings.

Key statistics from BT’s survey of social media webinar participants, conducted in March-April 2022:

  • Most advice practices who participated in the survey are on Facebook (78%) and LinkedIn (75%).
  • 37% of advisers surveyed have obtained referrals via social media in the past 12 months; 51% have not.
  • Most advice practices spend less than 10% of their marketing budget on social media (88%).
  • Advisers perceive the most effective social media activity is their own employees’ posts (61%); only 11% find that advertising through paid posts is effective.

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[1] For recent research into consumer preferences, see for example KPMG’s study: https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/media/pressreleases/2020/07/four-fifths-consumers-prefer-digital-financial-services-covid-19-study-8-july-2020.html
[2] https://www.yellow.com.au/social-media-report/

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