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Introduction to Social Media: The Basics

Skott McKinney, Director of Marketing & Creative Services

Social media is a term used to refer to the online communities (also known as social networks) of people who connect and communicate via specialized websites, and these websites have both similar and unique features. There are hundreds of different social media sites available to users, including those with broad appeal (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and those that are designed for a specific group of indi­viduals (e.g. Chegg Study for college/ university students seeking homework help, and Slack for work professionals to communicate with colleagues and connections from across the globe).

For financial advisors, online social networking represents a powerful addition to traditional networking activities, such as meeting friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and business associates at social and community events.

Why is Social Networking so Popular?

Social networking is no longer just popular, it is an integral part of our lives. It enables us to communicate with one another, regardless of location, sharing ideas and opinions, making new connections, or engaging with personal or professional content. Social media platforms allow users to do everything from viewing restaurant recommendations to checking in on loved ones and former colleagues.

Where Social Media Adds Value

Social media is incredibly flexible and enables users to accomplish a wide range of tasks, such as:

  • Promote your skills and your business, demon­strating your expertise to your peers, customers, and potential employers (in accordance with firm compliance guidelines).
  • Reconnect and stay in touch with people that might otherwise drop out of your life due to various reasons such as a lack of time, changes in residence, etc.
  • Express your personal views and values by sharing content related to your favorite people, places, things, and ideas with others close to you.
  • Get useful feedback from people with similar attitudes about potential vacation destinations, restaurant recommendations, and any type of major purchase such as a car or appliance.
  • Enable organizations (whether businesses, non-profits, civic/school/religious groups or social clubs) to foster dialogue and schedule gatherings among members and/or employees.
  • Disseminate discussion materials for classes and encourage participants to exchange ideas via forums and chat features.
  • Reach out to people with similar values to rally support for fundraising and to raise awareness of charitable causes.
  • Highlight news and ideas that could have a positive impact on government policies; whether at the town, state, or national level.
  • Create and distribute content for artistic, personal, or professional purposes such as videos, blog articles, imagery, music, and artwork.

How Social Media is Used


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Main Types of Social Networks

There are three types of social networks: profes­sional, open, and personal.

Personal and professional networks usually operate by mutual consent of the participants; access is by invitation only, with users free to accept or reject someone as part of their network. Open networks, as the name implies, do not require approval to join and are open to everyone.

Professional Networks = LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is primarily intended to help business people contact other business people about jobs and industry trends, serving much the same func­tion as online versions of industry associations and trade groups. However, the network is also used to communi­cate with clients, identify new prospects, and share relevant video, imagery, and written content with respect to various industries.

Open Networks = Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube

Open networks offer users the ability to communicate between any group of participants as well as share relevant content. Twitter, for instance, enables users to share (aka “tweet”) their thoughts, content, opinions, or reactions, as well as engage in conversations with others within a 280-character limit. Instagram allows users to share photos and video content with captions, and comment on other users’ content. Snapchat lets users send video or photo content to other users. Snapchat content, however, will delete after a certain period of time, which can be set by each individual user.

Personal Networks = Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat 

Primarily intended for socializing with friends and acquaintances, personal networks also have business applications, such as the promotion of products and services to potential buyers. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, while personal in nature, all offer businesses the ability to have distinct “pages” on the platforms. Within these pages are native advertising opportunities, designed to reach a company’s target audience.

Asset Marketing Systems offers a number of tools to get you going with your social marketing plan. Click here to download our how-to guides to posting ads to Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you’re a financial advisor, call us today to learn how Asset Marketing Systems can help you.