A few rules of thumb for financial advisers on social media: get personal, like mentioning your daughter's big soccer win, include pictures in your content whenever possible and don't bother posting on Mondays.
This is what experts at the social media monitoring firms, including Actiance, Hearsay Social and Socialware, said is the best strategy for advisers to make use of social media sites.
These companies analyze and archive the postings of tens of thousands of the nation's financial advisers. And for wealth management firms both big and small, they give advice on the types of posts that get the most retweets, likes, comments and shares.
"A mix of content is really important," said Sarah Carter, general manager for the social business of Actiance, a firm that monitors the social media posts of advisers at companies like Raymond James Financial Inc and Macquarie Wealth Management, and non-social media communications of advisers at Wells Fargo & Co.. "We've found that 30 percent personal, 30 percent business and a mix of news and current information is about right."
Here's an overview of the trends these companies are seeing.
Don't be afraid to get personal in your posts, said Socialware, whose clients include Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. The company has found that lifestyle content gets significantly more engagement than posts focused solely on financial issues.
When your posts have a personal feel, prospective clients will feel like they know you and will be more likely to give you their business, several content monitoring companies have found. That said, do not bombard them with comments about your personal life.
"You wouldn't walk up to someone at a cocktail party and start talking about yourself," said Amy Millard, vice president of marketing for Hearsay, whose wealth management clients include Northwestern Mutual and Zielger. "When you go on social media the rules of conversation still apply."
Talk about the topics of the day, but avoid politics and religion, she said. And bring up fun facts that you've heard friends talking about.
Kim Gaxiola, a Morgan Hill, California-based adviser who Actiance said gets a lot of social media engagement, mixes in riddles with her posts.
Gaxiola, who has over 4,600 followers on Twitter and is founder of TechGirl Financial, said the weekly riddles haven't directly led to any clients, but they get a lot of comments and keep her in the forefront of her clients and prospects' minds.
Also include a picture in your posts whenever possible. Hearsay said pictures double or triple the amount of engagement a post gets.
MAYBE YOUR BOSS DOES KNOW BEST
Making things personal is tough for the advisers at the many wealth management firms that require advisers to choose from a library of company-authored posts instead of ad-libbing their own.
See if your company allows for some flexibility so that you can add a personal touch to these canned posts, said Hearsay's Millard.
Say your company library has a Tweet with advice on 401(k) rollovers. Use that as a base and add a sentence about your state's rules surrounding 401(k)s. This helps the audience "realize you're not some generic person sitting in corporate," Millard said.
And if your firm does not give you the ability to personalize company-authored posts, don't fret. These posts actually do quite well, Actiance has found, likely because they are written by professional marketers and often link to strong research.
TIME YOUR POSTS
One thing social media monitoring firms disagree on is the best times to post.
Actiance suggests advisers post when people are more likely to be on the sites, which is early in the morning and late afternoons on weekdays. The company also said Monday is the least popular weekday for social media, likely because people are often too busy playing catch-up from the weekend.
Hearsay had a different opinion, saying it is best to post outside of business hours so your comments stand out from the clutter.
Overall, there is no hard rule advisers can follow for the best time to post, said Blane Warrene, co-founder of Arkovi, which was recently acquired by RegEd.
"Ultimately they're going to find a rhythm that connects with their followers," Warrene said.
(Reporting By Jennifer Hoyt Cummings; Twitter @jenhoytcummings; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)