Affirmed: Social Media Now Part Of Advisors', Professional Investors' Workdays

I actually remember where I was when the results of the first American Century survey of financial professionals’ use of social media were released four years ago.

I’d been following financial advisors on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their blogs as just another one of my unstructured online diversions. I didn't know where it was going. To me the publication of the survey was a profound development: By going so far as to commission a study, an asset manager was acknowledging social media as a relevant activity for advisors.

In that 2010 survey, only 26% of respondents ranked social media as having value to their business. Nearly one-fourth said they didn’t want to receive information via social media. Of those who used social media for business purposes, almost one-fifth (19%) did so daily, but 49% said they used social media less than once per week.

Fast forward four years, and an Ignites reporter and I were chuckling yesterday as we were reviewing American Century’s fourth annual survey results.

Uh, what’s the news in the latest findings?

In the years between American Century’s first and fourth survey—to the probable relief of both financial advisors and asset managers—things have stabilized sufficiently that there is no obvious, dramatic news. Nine out of 10 advisors now have a social media account and the evidence is mounting that they find value in social activities. Twitter usage has climbed since the last survey. Oh and Instagram makes its first appearance in the results.

This year’s study documents what has been a gradual embrace and now reliance on the content that can be found on social networks.

Reliance? That’s how I interpret the increase in advisors using social media more than once a week—61% report using social media at least once a week, 39% several times a week and 10% multiple times a day (a datapoint that’s down from 16% in 2012). 

This suggests that there is consistent value in the content that’s being exchanged. Mining social networks for content worth reading and worth sharing has become part of many advisors’ workday routines. It’s a win-win-win, for the advisors, for the content creator (including participating asset managers who recognize the opportunity) and for the networks themselves.

A Direct Channel To Professional Investors

News last week produced another concrete example of why it’s good to share via Twitter, specifically. Bloomberg announced that it would incorporate a curated list of Twitter accounts into its data service. 

From the press release: “Bloomberg Professional service subscribers can now monitor and analyze real-time Twitter updates issued by corporations, executives, government officials, economists, commentators, media outlets and other voices that can influence the financial markets. By incorporating live Twitter feeds directly into its financial information platform, Bloomberg integrates social media content with users’ existing investment workflow so market participants avoid the disruption caused by monitoring separate systems for different types of market-moving information.

Bloomberg isn’t releasing the list of people and companies that they make available on the terminals, but some subscribers have uploaded some names. When I didn’t see any investment managers on the lists of names being published, I emailed Bloomberg and attached the @RockTheBoatMKTG Twitter list of Investment managers to see if they would comment about whether any investment managers were on the list of "voices that can influence the financial markets." 

After a little email back and forth, here was the response:  “Yes, Bloomberg follows select companies, including investment managers.” 

For those of you with Twitter accounts, this integration represents a new channel. How else would your communications regularly stream to Bloomberg terminals? Never before have you had such access to professional investors. 

(Do you have a work buddy with access to a Bloomberg terminal? You might want to confirm your firm’s inclusion. Subscribers can go to {TWTR<GO>} and select option 8 "People" to query people whose tweets can be followed or searched.) 

Again, back to the official statement: “Bloomberg classifies tweets by company, asset class, person and topic, making it easy for institutional investors, traders, corporate executives and government agencies to track updates related to a specific industry or market, their portfolio holdings or an online personality. 

This Is What's New

Taken together, the 2013 American Century research and the Bloomberg integration are proof that Twitter content (and content shared on other networks in the case of advisors) has become a part of systematic information-gathering. This is what’s being affirmed in 2013.

Decision-makers that you and your firm care about are showing that they're serious about what can be learned via social media. If you’ve approached your social posts in a half-hearted way (come on, we can do better than tweeting the availability of updated fund profiles) and/or posted on an occasional schedule, or if you have yet to “join the conversation,” it's time for you to get serious, too.

Minutes after I published this post Tuesday morning, I came across (via Twitter, naturally) two related posts that I recommend to you: