Why Google+ Might Work For Advisors And Asset Managers

Last week I took part in an Investment News Webinar panel discussion focusing on three of the top social networks for financial advisors (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, which I contributed to drawing on my AdvisorTweets.com perspective).

I didn’t say anything to anybody but as I was participating, I felt a twinge. Do you know the feeling when you’re getting together with old friends and you wonder whether maybe you should have asked a new friend along?

Google+ is the new friend and it offers some potential to financial advisors, too. I’ve been using it some as are the familiar names that I got to know from AdvisorTweets—some advisors and some vendors and suppliers in the broader advisor ecosystem. Brands continue to be blocked while Google figures out the use case. If there is a mutual fund or ETF company on Google+ experimenting, it’s an unauthorized use and if I knew of one I’d never say anything about it. But I don’t.

How Do You Not Get In The Way?

What you can do on your own on Google+ (which lifted its velvet rope and opened to all Tuesday) is start to get familiar with how it works. In fact, some asset manager marketers are doing just that.

The first time I wrote about Google+, I was drawn to the impromptu video Hangouts capability. In fact, enhancements and user adoption for Google Hangouts were the top item mentioned in Google’s post yesterday.

But here's the sophisticated graphic I use to explain why I think Google+ may have particular value for asset managers communicating with financial advisors. I think this is a fair representation of the social media game today—financial advisors are committing to learn about social media not because they want to hear more from product providers but because they’re interested in enhancing their communications with clients and prospects. Because financial advisors can be found increasingly on the social networks, mutual fund and ETF companies are in pursuit.

This is not to suggest that advisors don’t value what asset managers say. They do, of course. But it’s incumbent upon asset managers not to get in the way of the advisors’ true motivation.

Right Place, Right Time

That’s why sending email is more miss than hit. It's almost impossible to know the right time to send an advisor an email. Just about every other email he or she gets is going to be more important.

I’ve been worrying about this since last summer when Google introduced Priority Inbox. Thanks to Google’s interpretation of how advisors (the independents who use Gmail) react to your emails, your emails run the risk of being unseen and unopened in a collection of “not important” mail. See this explanation of how the importance ranking works.

And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for commercial email providers to follow Google’s lead.

But back to Google+. This new network's facilitation of organizing people by circles could be an enhancement to the way a social media-using advisor interacts with an asset manager brand today.

As much as I love Twitter, it’s a rushing stream and tweets have a very short life. Advisors need to make a point of adding asset manager accounts to lists they follow and even then check in frequently.

On Facebook, things are still quite awkward when the professional and personal butt into one another. Facebook effectiveness is all about getting into the newsfeed. But, seriously, content shared by your mutual fund and ETF accounts may seem out of place with other more mainstream and more intimate updates.

I can see a day when asset managers post their updates to Google+ and financial advisors collect those updates in a specially designated circle. When the advisor is ready to plug in, he’ll click on the circle and read what the asset managers he follows are saying. If desired, an account can be muted from the financial advisor’s stream and in the future Google expects to enable the muting of a full circle.

In short, I’m thinking about Google+ as a time management solution for advisors interested in your content. If they’re interested, they may have follow-up questions which you’d of course need to be able to respond to. What you're really hoping is that they'll +1 (share) your stuff with others in circles they've created who are appropriate to receive this content—financial advisors, for example. All of this assumes Compliance procedures are in place for both sides.

What are you thinking?