Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Research Shows Significant Increases in Financial Professionals' Use of Social Media

Even though many financial intermediaries are still "lurking in the shadows" and trying to understand the value of social media, most are participating regularly, according to American Century Investments' second annual Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study.

Half of the financial services professionals (including financial planners, brokers and registered investment advisors) participating in the study indicated they have moderate or extensive experience with social media. Most (86%) have a business or personal profile/account and roughly 43% regularly participate regularly in at least one medium. Nearly 10% characterized themselves as "social media addicts."

The research examined attitudes toward and usage of social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and MySpace. Again this year, Facebook had the highest percentage of respondents with accounts at 71% (vs. 55% in 2010) and LinkedIn retained the second place spot with 55%, versus 45% in 2010.

General Findings-Social Media Business Users

Of the financial professionals who use social media for business purposes, more than half (55%) do so at least several times a week; almost one quarter (24%) use it daily.

Similar to 2010, top business uses continue to include monitoring industry and market news, researching people such as prospects, contacts and current clients, and reading expert commentary and insights.

In terms of planned business uses for social media, many combined mentions in the 2011 study were significantly higher than last year: maintaining a professional blog increased to 18% from 8%; using social media for customer feedback jumped to 21% from 12% and sharing best practices went to 18% from 12%.

Concerns about Using Social Media

Regulatory or compliance issues continued to lead concerns for using social media, but dropped this year to only 38% from 47% last year. However, the percentage of financial professionals concerned about a potential privacy breach increased to 26% from 21%. Also, respondents reporting that their single biggest concern dealt with technology or security issues rose from 2% to 6%.

Additionally, more than half (53%) of study participants indicted that their firm has a social media policy or guidelines.

Attitudes and Overall Value-Trending Upward

Roughly 45% of respondents were generally positive when asked about the overall value of social media as a potential tool to grow their business. Fewer than one-fifth expressed a negative opinion; the rest were either neutral, mixed or didn't use it and had no opinion.

Although few study participants ranked social media as having "high business value," those who ranked it highly increased this year over last: 13% in 2011 versus 8% in 2010.

Also trending higher were the number of financial professionals who feel that social media is an "emerging trend with significant future potential," coming in at 56% this year, versus 44% last year.

More information on social media and CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com.

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