In the same way that early adopters of the Internet defined the rules and functionality, early adopters of social media have also blazed the trail. In a recent survey by the Oechsli Institute, only 8 percent of advisors met all of the criteria to be considered an “early adopter.”

But as many advisors try to navigate the maze that is social media, these early adopters can provide a model for the industry to follow. How, for example, did they acquire new business using social media—perhaps the most pressing question on advisors’ minds when it comes to social media? A closer look at the characteristics of early adopters will provide some clues.

1.    Use Social Media Daily

It’s not all social networks and not all day usage. Advisors who are early adopters are generally spending 15 to 20 minutes a day on LinkedIn. Nearly all early adopters use LinkedIn, followed by Facebook, and then Twitter. They have developed a routine, or checklist, when logging-in. This is the time that they check on their current connections, add new connections, etc.

2.    Gather Information on Clients

The information on social networks is a goldmine for early adopters. They use LinkedIn and other social networks to profile clients. Some early adopters are personally connecting with clients on Facebook, but only those with whom they already have a personal relationship. 

They also peruse their clients’ LinkedIn connections to uncover people they would benefit from meeting. This helps them “source” names to add to their offline personal introduction list.

3.    Research Prospects

Prior to meetings, early adopters gather as much personal information as possible about their prospects, using LinkedIn and Google. This provides them with a better understanding of the person, so they can make a good first impression.

4.    Uncover Business Opportunities

Early adopters use a number of tactics to uncover business opportunities, such as connecting with alumni, friends, family, former colleagues, members of organizations to which they belong, affluent clients, referral alliance partners, and centers of influence. They run advanced searches on LinkedIn to monitor turnover as they search for professionals in transition. Early adopters also follow local companies and join targeted groups in which their prospects are actively involved.

5.    Get Introduced Offline

Early adopters understand the top marketing activity with today’s affluent investor is the personal introduction.

The secret is in using LinkedIn as an online tool to get an offline personal introduction. In order to do this effectively, you must have the right sales skills and know how to properly nurture your first-degree connections.

6.    Acquire New Business

The social media reality of today is that early adopters have been able to acquire new business within their compliance guidelines. Whether it’s through a personal introduction to a prospect or connection through another professional, they get results. When opportunities are uncovered, they always take them offline. This begins the process of developing a personal relationship, which is what leads to new business. 

We’ve been consulting with a number of firms and helping them create pilot programs for LinkedIn. Our message to advisors is simple: Get involved while adhering to your firm’s compliance guidelines. LinkedIn is currently the social media vehicle of choice with our early adopters, so get familiar with it and create a strategy for using it.

Is social media the end-all-be-all to your marketing? No, it’s just one of many tools. But it’s a tool that’s growing rapidly and becoming more and more powerful every day.