Without connections, whether it’s personal or professional usage, social media sites are not of much value.  In our latest social media study we focused our attention on the number of connections advisor have amongst the Big Three; Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  The connection quantity gives us an understanding of usage and effort for each social network.

We segmented our respondents into Early Adopters and Casual Users.  Early Adopters are those advisors who have acquired new business using social media, use it daily, research clients and prospects, and integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy.  Casual Users – are just that.

The findings were quite interesting…

LinkedIn Connections
When it comes to LinkedIn connections, the gap between Early Adopters and Causal Users is tremendous.  47 percent of Early Adopters have 500 or more LinkedIn connections.  This is in dramatic contrast to the Causal Users where only 6 percent have as many connections.  This is particularly relevant since LinkedIn is the focal point of most business users of social media.

Twitter Followers
With 20 percent of Early Adopters having 250 or more followers, compared to 3 percent of the Casual Users, a natural progression has developed; Early Adopters are more frequent users of Twitter, which leads to more followers and connections. It is also likely that they follow more people on Twitter because they use it more, and some of those people, in turn, follow them back.

Facebook Friends
Although the Facebook gap between Early Adopters and Casual Users is not as pronounced as it is with LinkedIn and Twitter, it is still statistically significant. With Facebook being more of a personal social media site, it appears that Casual Users are not as involved at a personal level as the Early Adopters.  The connection gap is most likely narrowed with Facebook because it is primarily used to connect with friends and family and has been used longer by most Casual Users. 

So how many connections, followers and friends should you have?  Well, that depends.  Do you want to be an Early Adopter or Casual User?

 

Kevin Nichols is a thought-leader with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  Follow him on twitter @KevinANichols