Registered Rep.: In the summer of 2011, World Equity Group adopted Arkovi social media software and began allowing its reps to use social media interactively. Why?
Steve Crothers: Some of our advisors were already using social media, and others were demanding it. But before we started using Arkovi, we had to manage social media use manually. I walked through compliance one day and I realized that they were spending a lot of time, just with very few reps at that point in time; they were spending a lot of time just manually logging in and checking these guys' messages that they were putting out. Since then, the volume of social usage has been picking up.
RR: How are your reps using social media?
SC: The way a lot of our reps are using social media is to tie together all of the different marketing methods that they're using. For example, one of our reps uses social media to urge followers to tune in to his TV appearances or to post articles that quote him. The more touches you can have with a client, whether it's growing your business or keeping some business, as long as we're on the straight and narrow with the FINRA guidelines, I think they should definitely do that. It's an efficient and free way for them to advertise and stay top of mind in a prospect's or current client's mind, in a personal branding way.
RR: How many of your 185 reps are actively using social media now?
SC: So far, just a handful of FAs are actively using it, but all of our top producers are on Facebook and Twitter. They're top producers because they've always been more marketing-savvy, however they chose to market themselves, so they always explore the new avenues of marketing.
RR: Has your firm's adoption of social media helped with recruiting?
SC: I don't think social media has been the one reason anyone has come or stayed. But it shows a rep, whether it's a rep who's with us or a rep who's looking at us, that we're flexible in trying to meet their needs. We're not running and sticking our heads in the sand because we're scared of something like this. It's such a hot topic that you're kind of a dinosaur if you don't adopt these rules, and you're not doing your reps any favors by not adopting these rules.