How to master social media

Leslie Marshall, Head of Experiential Marketing at Morningstar, shares social media tips for advisers.
By Morningstar |  20-12-18 | 

Excerpts from Leslie Marshall’s speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference held in Mumbai on October 23-24, 2018.

Currently, around 19% of the population in India is using social media. Though low, it is growing at a healthy pace. The usage will go up due to the higher penetration of mobile phones. Around 63% of the Indian population is using a mobile phone. In fact, social media usage grew by 31% in India during January 2017 – January 2018 vis-à-vis 13% globally. According to Statista, social media will have over 370 million users in India by 2022.

Thus, social media presents a good opportunity for advisers to increase their visibility and reach. Let us look at which platforms are most popular. Facebook and YouTube are the most popular followed by Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. WhatsApp is also growing. Let's look at some statistics.

Putnam Advisor Study done in 2013 found that only 49% advisers found social media useful and had actual real results from using social media to gain clients. The latest study done in 2017 shows that 86% advisers who responded said they had acquired clients from social media. The study also found that advisers with $100 million or more in assets under management have acquired clients through social media. And 88% of advisers who took this survey said social media has actually changed relationships with clients. How has it done that?

Through social media it's easier and efficient to share information with clients during all times.

Through social media, you will be more attuned to the major events in your client’s lives - promotion, marriage and having children. Your clients are saying all these things on social media. So it’s much easier to find out what's happening with them and engage with them in those moments. Decision making is faster and easier, and we have a better personal relationship.

I have put together some social media goals for you.


Social media is one of the best ways to collate all information by choosing different accounts, different companies, media outlets and your network. You can follow people on social media whom you wish to learn from. Information is delivered to you on your smartphone. You can monitor topics that are important to you and your business.


I recommend LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for building relationships since these are people-based platforms. Networking at conferences using the hashtag enables you to find new people to connect with. You can also keep those connections afterwards by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Then on Facebook. You can add clients on Facebook if you are close enough with them and you’ll have a window into their day-to-day lives and maybe where you can help them out.

Creating Personal Brand 

Regarding personal brand, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. For this strategy, I recommend LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for building personal brand. For instance, you can share your thought leadership by writing long form posts on LinkedIn. You can share news commentary or blog content on Twitter. You could also create a YouTube channel, which is actually the second world's largest search engine. People are using it extensively for gathering information on topics like investing. If you are thinking of starting a You Tube channel, then I recommend shooting short videos on your iPhone first and then invest in other video filming techniques.


Then there’s Instagram. It is mostly used for sharing interesting photos. You have to think differently about using Instagram and sharing the more personal aspect of your work and your life. It is a great platform to tap into millennials. 70% of millennials are using Instagram.


It's the world largest professional network. It has 50 million users in India, second to United States in terms of usage.

Go Slow

LinkedIn is not about hitting up other people for business. A great way to grow your network is to help your network. What can you do to help people that you are connected with and how can you grow your referral network? Who can help you? When you are going through a business challenge who can help you in your network? Who could they introduce you to to help you grow your business. It also allows you to follow updates from your network including job changes and promotions which creates opportunities where you can consult with your clients on new investing opportunities that could help them with their goals.


People that you are connected with are always updating it for you. So, it's a great way to keep connections with colleagues and clients. To begin with, you need to have a great photo. It need not be a professionally done photo. But it should be clear. You should look pleasant or positive. Ask a good friend to take a photo with your mobile phone. Also, have a header photo. People forget that it is actually unused real estate and a great way to share more interesting aspect of you and your business.

About You

The most important thing you can do with your LinkedIn profile is explain what are your differentiators? What makes you get up every day, to do what you do to help your clients. Think about that when you are talking about yourself in your profile. Your summary should be a reflection of professional plus personal statement. I pull that term from one of my friends and colleagues in the industry David Fisher who does a lot of great work around social selling. He has written some books on the process of social selling. In your summary you could share things about where to find you when you are not at the office. What's most rewarding about the work that you do with clients, what's your why, and then what matters to you about helping clients?

There are also opportunities throughout your profile, especially the first two sections where you can add video and article links. This is another way to express more about you and your business. The experience section is like a resume and honors and volunteer interest in causes. If you are volunteering for certain causes and maybe referral is also interested in that cause, it gives you a place to start for initial conversation.

Let us look at a few profiles of advisers on LinkedIn. This is Cathy Curtis, a financial adviser in San Francisco. Her specialty is reaching financially independent women. That’s her client niche. She has defined her client needs on her profile. She's has got a great photo of her headshot and an interesting photo of San Francisco where she's based. And in her summary statement she says I became a financial adviser because I was passionate about personal finance and investing. And in the multimedia section she promotes her book and her availability as a speaker.

The next adviser is Vivek Rege whom I met at FPA event in Chicago. He also has a strong headshot and nice header photo. He has a mission-oriented summary around helping clients build sustainable wealth over time. He features words and media experience in his profile and he highlights his industry credentials.

Sharing Content

You can share content from the LinkedIn homepage. If you are sharing something, add a little bit about why that’s interesting or relevant to your network. You can share photos, videos and write an article sharing your expertise on a topic.

At the bottom of a post, there is some free data about your post. You'll see how many people liked, commented and the total views. When you click on the views, a page pops up that shows the different types of people, viewing it, their titles and where do they live. And that could be useful to you and your business if you are looking to reach c-suite folks or people in the technology industry. If that's your client base and those are the people that are looking at your post, you'll know that you are reaching the right audience. If you are not reaching those folks, you can rethink about who you are connected with and how can you grow your network. You can think about how you are posting and what types of content you are posting.

Some advisers say that they have a challenge in terms of curating content. If you are doing webinar or event for clients, you can reuse that content in smaller chunks. If you are writing a blog take a quote from your blog, post it on LinkedIn with that blog link. If you have got an all along webinar, break that up into little video chunks or audio chunks and you've got lots of nice content that you could share over the course of a few weeks.

Social media can be time consuming. So you have to focus your efforts and prioritize. At Morningstar, we spend a lot of time sharing our thought leadership and content on Twitter and LinkedIn. We are present on Facebook. We have a YouTube channel and we also have an Instagram account. Currently, we are exploring Snapchat.

Think about your goal, your target audience and the time that you have. If you are only going to tweet once a month, don’t start a Twitter account.

Hashtags #

Hashtags are used ubiquitously across social media platforms. Earlier, it used to just a Twitter thing. But they have become so popular that LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook also allow you to use hashtags. Hashtag is a great way to draw people into a conversation say #sustainableinvesting. We used #MICIN to create a community around the people that are coming to Morningstar Investment Conference. They are trackable you can use a tool like Union Metrics that is a paid tool. That will actually tell you how many people are using a popular hashtag, if you want to go that far in terms of understanding hashtag usage.

Hashtags do bring in more of views, but you need to use a relevant hashtag. So, you really want to think about the words for your post and if it's useful for you to engage with the people that might see it. If you are using lots of random hashtags for no reason, you are going to get views that don’t matter to you.

Summing Up

To wrap up, social media goals are really about your goals, your focused effort and using data to help you reach your goals. Align your social media strategy with your business. If time is an issue pick one channel and make it your best effort. Avoid giving investment advice. Be transparent. Use data to evaluate what's working and what's not. If you are not getting engagement and views and interest on your posts, change the type of content that you are posting, and you'll get better results.

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