Wells Fargo Advisors will allow 1,000 of its advisors to use social media by the end of 2015 and 5,000 by the end of 2016, the St. Louis-based brokerage said. Two years ago, the firm launched a pilot program that allowed 100 advisors to use Twitter for the first time.
Under the new program, Wells Fargo will enroll about 120 to 150 advisors a month from across the firm’s banking, brokerage and independent broker/dealer channels. Each division’s leadership selects the advisors from a pool who have expressed interest in participating, said Jeff Leonard, senior vice president of marketing for Wells Fargo.
To get more of their advisors on social media, the firm needed to improve coordination between compliance, marketing and technology, Leonard said. The firm has about 2,000 employees involved in the program who meet on a weekly basis to discuss the implementation, a significant investment compared to the resources needed for the 100-advisor pilot program.
“That sort of scale is easy to manage, but when you start getting into serious scale—15,000 advisors, this is a pretty big organization—then all of a sudden you have a much bigger effort to take on and you have to make sure you’re tracking all of this,” said Bruce Milne, executive vice president of Socialware, which partners with Wells Fargo to provide social media compliance software.
Through Socialware, advisors post pre-approved content from Wells Fargo’s library, as well as independently crafted posts that are then approved on the backend before they are routed to LinkedIn or Twitter.
To qualify, advisors must have a completed LinkedIn profile and a clean compliance record. Once approved, advisors undergo a training program consisting of a series of 15-minute web-based sessions. They also have to complete and pass a quiz following each session.
During the pilot program, the firm found that there was an uptick in the number of new households and net new money brought in by those advisors on social media. About 70 percent of the advisors in the pilot program posted pre-approved content, compared to 30 percent who crafted their own messages. The firm creates about 50 new articles a week that advisors can use either with pre-programmed posts and links or personal introduction messages that then go through compliance.
Tim Adams, branch manager of the Princeton Group in the Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, has increased his LinkedIn followers to over 2,000 since starting in the pilot program. He devotes about 10 minutes a day to social media.
While most advisors in the pilot program preferred LinkedIn, about 20 to 30 percent adopted Twitter. The data showed advisors were generally posting about twice a week to at least one social media platform.
Advisors just joining the firm, however, won’t be allowed to use social media right away.
“We’re trying to manage this across an entire body of advisors and we have to have some method of letting people in, otherwise we’ll lose our ability to support everybody,” Leonard said.