If you have been reading my blog lately, you’ve inevitably noticed a reference to the “Early Adopters” and “Casual Users” of social media.  For this entry, I’ll clarify these classifications.  

We recently conducted an online survey of 649 financial advisors and held multiple focus groups.  Our objective in conducting this study was to get a better understanding of the financial advisors who are Early Adopters of social media.  We ended up with a small cadre of advisors who gain real business benefit from social media – 8% to be exact.  When it comes to social media, the Early Adopters are the trendsetters who are diving headfirst into this new technology.

The data we uncovered allowed us to define Early Adopters by six criteria. Advisors had to meet all of the following criteria to be considered an Early Adopter.

1.     Use some form of social media daily.

2.     Gather information on clients through social media.

3.     Research prospects through social media.

4.     Have uncovered new business opportunities using social media.

5.     Have been introduced or referred to a prospect through social media.

6.     Have acquired new business as a result of social media.

We wanted to be highly selective in segmenting Early Adopters to make certain we were profiling the social media users that others should imitate. We ended up with exactly what we hoped to gather - an elite group of social media users that have figured out how to use these tools to deepen client and COI relationships, find new clients, and gain more mass exposure. The business benefit Early Adopters derive from social media far exceeds that of Casual Users.

Social media today is much like the Internet was 15 years ago. The Early Adopters of the Internet helped define both the rules and proper usage. They also led the field in being able to use the Internet as a tool for growing their business. Early Adopters of social media are blazing a similar path.

So there you have it.  Be on the lookout for ways advisors can model these trendsetters in future blogs.

If you would like a copy of the study can you download it here: https://www.oechsli.com/socialmediastudy

If you would like to view a short video on the findings, click here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYos7zdMi_Y&feature=plcp)

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   www.Oechsil.com