The positive and negative effects of social media can be debated all day long, but for advisors, the internet platforms that encourage connections through words, videos and photographs can serve a purpose.
In fact, Twitter has found a value unsuspected when it was created a decade ago. Twitter has become the home for consumer complaints about services that do not provide the value prescribed or products that do not function properly.
Complaining on Twitter has become the first step for consumer complaints, and can provide the same service for investors looking for better service and solutions.
Within the confines of their firm’s compliance guidelines, advisors are encouraged to use social media to promote their brand and communicate with investors. While Facebook and LinkedIn are considered the best places for posting articles on financial topics, and YouTube is where investors look most for videos on financial topics, Twitter is perhaps the easiest social media platform to conduct a conversation that will not be private.
And often that conversation starts with a complaint.
“Investors are accustomed to using social media as a communication vehicle, and Twitter has become a popular site to use for product and service complaints,’’ said Spectrem president George H. Walper Jr. “Dissatisfied investors with a social media mindset can certainly use Twitter to complain about products or services, and advisors need to prepare for such occurrences with a constant monitoring of Twitter, as well as other social media sites.”
But do investors actually think complaining on Twitter can accomplish something?
Actually, they do.
According to Spectrem’s wealth segmentation series study Using Social Media and Mobile Technology in Financial Decisions, the success rate for receiving some sort of satisfaction from a Twitter complaint is staggering.
Although only 11 percent of all UHNW investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million have Twitter accounts, that percentage has more than doubled since 2010 when only 5 percent of UHNW investors used Twitter.
Among Millennial and Gen X UHNW investors, 41 percent have Twitter accounts.
While only a small percentage of affluent investors have complained on Twitter about their financial service provider, their return on complaint has been overwhelming. Among UHNW investors, 7 percent have complained via Twitter to their financial service provider and 100 percent of those got responses.
Whether their complaint was addressed to their satisfaction is unknown, but a conversation took place.
The practice of complaining on Twitter is clearly a preferred tactic of younger investors. Forty percent of Millennial UHNW investors have complained to their advisor and received a response. Among Millionaires with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, only 3 percent have tweeted a complaint but that includes 22 percent of Millennials, and 8 percent of Gen X Millionaires.
Attending to social media may be difficult for advisory firms with small staffs, and social media posting may be intermittent for those firms. But because Twitter is the site that creates the most direct connections between investor and advisor, adding Twitter functions to the daily workload of a staffer would be advisable.
Firms with a communications staff dedicated to social media must be able to respond in a meaningful way to complaint Tweets. Having a person or people assigned to that function can allow the firm to distinguish meaningful complaints from those investors who might make complaining a habit.
Keep in mind that tweets sent directly to an advisor are seen by every person who follows that advisor on Twitter as well as by the followers of the person who tweeted. So not only do your followers know that one of your clients is unhappy, they also know how you respond to that complaint, and how quickly you do so.
Just as companies have discovered that social media is a way to promote their business, consumers have discovered that social media is way to get the attention of companies with whom they have a complaint. This is true for investors and their advisors as well.
Top Takeaways for Advisors
Advisors and financial providers with a Twitter account need to pay attention to it. Firms that do not have a Twitter account currently need to strongly consider adding it to their social media presence, and must consider a plan of action to address client complaints if and when they arrive via Twitter.
The quicker you are at addressing Twitter comments and complaints, the more attention your firm will receive from all of the investors that follow your Twitter account. When a problem is addressed swiftly, or a question answered in a timely fashion, other investors will note the pattern and research shows investors like quick responses from their advisor.
Twitter’s role as a complaint forum is not going away. In fact, many large corporations in America are inviting consumers to use Twitter for that purpose. Advisors can use this pattern to their advantage, making Twitter its social media contact center. By attracting attention to your Twitter account, you can use it to your advantage by advertising products and services while fielding comments and complaints.