The Corner Office Advisor Is Live And Well Online

This morning on Twitter was just like every other weekday morning—lots of tweets offering links to valuable fresh content. At 8 a.m.CDT it was obvious that Russ Thornton, a former Merrill Lynch financial consultant and now fee-only financial advisor, had produced something my tribe of financial advisors had seen, liked and were now recommending in the form of retweets to their followers.

Russ often writes his own posts but this morning he created a post “What Should Investors Do Now?” and wrote a single paragraph introducing a video from Dimensional Fund Advisors. Little more than one hour later, that was the post being passed around the Twitter community of advisors.

And, that was a big win for Dimensional.

The 14th largest fund group in assets under management, Dimensional markets at a much lower volume than most large fund complexes. But this isn’t about marketing via television or billboards or email. This is a case study of content marketing using a delivery medium that consistently proves its viral quality.

Russ watched the 20-minute video on DFA’s site, noticed that it was approved for client use and chose to download it so he could upload it to, a video sharing site, to offer it from his blog. Even though the video has a date of first use of March 13, it was posted last night and may have benefited from some outbound marketing support from Dimensional. But a message from the company itself will not attract the same attention as an endorsement (a tweet, in this case) from Russ.

Do you believe in the influence of the corner office producer? Here’s how it translates on the Web. First, Russ (the founder of the Financial Advisor Forum social network, by the way) had to be impressed by the video. Once he was, he added the DFA content to his Web site and then promoted the new blog post by sending an @RussThornton tweet that reached his 1,754 followers. Among his followers was @TheMoneyGeek who re-tweeted Russ’ tweet to his 870 followers and @ChadCastle sent it to his 70 followers. We’re writing about it here and who knows who else will be referred to it before the end of the day.

Asset management companies continue to obsess about how to drive advisors to their Websites. That’s your prerogative but please find some time to focus on the standalone quality of the content your site houses.

Is your content something that an advisor—whether he encountered it on your site or elsewhere—would like so much that he’d link it to his personal brand? (If it’s in video form, that’s to your advantage as survey after survey demonstrates the relative popularity of video online.)

Is your content sufficiently portable? And, what monitoring do you have in place to know who’s using your content where? On your site you may not accommodate commenting but other sites will—shouldn’t you be on top of what those comments are?

Content sharing is going to happen and, as we’ve seen today, that can be a good thing. But you’re also going to want to develop a means to alert your content users to updates.

Across the industry, mutual fund companies and ETF providers are seeking ways to engage and better serve advisors during this time of tumult. Independent advisors especially are showing a true appetite for money managers’ messages. Thoughtfully crafted and delivered content may have more value, more power than you'd think.