Six in 10 financial services companies now have programs in place to assist their financial advisors and representatives with social media, according to “Supporting Social Media,” new research from LIMRA.

Efforts to support advisors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, LIMRA said, with companies offering examples, guidelines, content and training.

“This study reveals the extent to which companies are helping their advisors and representatives capitalize on their social media presence and engage in best practices,” said the report’s author Norah Denley, senior research analyst, distribution and technology research, LIMRA.

While most financial services firms have been using social media for some time, LIMRA said three factors are critical to social media success: executive buy-in, internal training and awareness.

“Executives need to support the financial and staffing resources needed to be effective,” Denley said. “Compliance and sales teams should be users of social media in addition to knowing how it works. Finally, home office staff must be made aware of their company’s social media programs to better understand their potential.”

In addition to lack of knowledge, the most common impediments are a shortage of content and slow review processes of the content, the study found, as the content must pass through many hands, meaning the process is resource intensive and the content, less timely, Denley explained. “Unfortunately, that’s the current reality of communicating via a lightning-fast medium in a highly-regulated industry.”

Financial services companies however also are getting a clearer understanding of what the optimal results can be. “Companies and financial professionals successful with social media know it is not a magic bullet,” Denley said.  “They realize it’s a powerful tool to establish and nurture relationships, part of their broader marketing efforts, and that over time it can help contribute to success.”

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