Advisors Can Play Nice in the Social Media Sandbox

Social Media Sandbox

Advisors can play nice with compliance.

ActiveCanvas serves fee-based financial advisors so we’re always keeping up with Web trends that can help them be more effective reaching their audiences. We encourage almost all our clients to use Blogs, Facebook, and LinkedIn (sorry, Twitter) not just to demonstrate a willingness to have “conversations” with their customers and peers, but because it’s a must-have SEO strategy.

But playing in the social media sandbox for fee-based advisors can be tricky. Social media profiles are considered advertising, and advertising or any form of business-related communication has to first be approved by the mandatory compliance officer. Sort of takes the spontaneity out of being social, doesn’t it?

The dilemma hasn’t gone unnoticed though. According to advisor coach Matthew Halloran,  social networks are powerful tools to build and strengthen relationships, and once the relationship is created, you can take the business-related conversation away from the social network and into the approved and authorized channels.

In a recent article on what to do if your broker-dealer won’t allow social media, Matt, and his co-author suggest that not having to discuss business on Facebook can create a certain sense of freedom and be quite beneficial. It’s a good read if you’re an advisor staring at your FB and LI pages, not knowing what you can and can’t communicate to your fans and connections.

We understand the compliance rules and enjoy helping advisors, and anyone else for that matter, set up social media pages and compose Linked-In profiles.If you’d like to start a social media campaign, or just need to chat about whether SM is a worthy investment for your marketing strategy, let’s set up a time to chat about it. –Linda

A Bit about Blogging

There’s a lot to say about the value of blogging.


“Blogging Au Plein Air, after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot” by Mike Licht on Flickr

For starters, Google plays favorites with websites that update on a regular basis. Blogs network – they generate quality backlinks with colleagues who share a common interest and start conversations. Blogs are a powerful tool for building relationships with customers – in certain industries, maybe the most powerful! I could go on, but I promised “a bit” about blogging so intend to stick to my promise.

Top 3 Types of Bloggers

  1. The sincere blogger. He or she blogs at least twice a month, loves to write, is good at it, and considers the blog an important cog in the gears that keep the business thriving. He shares a lot about his business, a little about himself, and sees his blog as the linchpin of an overall marketing strategy, and not just an add-on.
  2. The cheater. The Cheater wants to blog at least twice a month, understands the value of blogging, but never got an A+ (or even a C) on creative writing assignments in the 9th grade, or ever for that matter. She buys greeting cards with sentiments so she doesn’t have to think up what to say in a letter. On her blog, she cheats by grabbing an article sent to her inbox by someone else, and basically “forwarding” the article with only a quick, one sentence endorsement. Not a bad method, and far better than no blog at all.
  3. The mystery writer. This type is clever. He’s way too busy, busy, busy, to do the research required for a well-written blog. So he found a ghost writer who can get into both his business and his head, and write from his heart. His blog fans don’t need to know they’re not his words, because in a sense they are. He’s figured out that paying $50 per post to a real writer while he earns the equivalent of $125 an hour working the money end of the business– well, do the math, then hire a ghost blogger.

If you want to learn more about setting up a blog or finding a ghost blogger, let us know. If you have ideas about blogging, tell us what you think in the Comments section.


Tone, vocabulary and style can make the difference between ease of use and user irritation

Language is our most powerful tool. We use it to filter and define our world. It empowers us to make connections, get involved, and to influence each other. It also gives us the power to mislead, antagonize and irritate each other.

Speak to the User

Site builders commonly spend huge chunks of time defining architecture, implementing whiz-bang back-ends, and designing the graphical user interface. Rarely do they think about a site’s language and how it effects a site’s functionality and appeal to users.

Language (often referred to as “content”) plays second fiddle to interface design and (oh groan) spectacular graphics. Language is often underestimated and sadly undervalued.

Well-written sites speak the language of the user. Tone, terms, and word choice need to be consistent. Just as the graphic designer puts a great deal of creativity and sensibility into page layout, font treatments, size, color, kerning and margins, so too should the Web writer manage the language of a site on a global level.

Beware Pitfalls

It takes a watchdog to maintain consistency in tone, terminology, and word choice. A site whose content is written by someone who understands and speaks the user’s language can suddenly sour if other writers write too many updates. One solution is a Language Czar. This is the person whose word is law. Everyone producing content for the site passes copy through the Czar’s editing process.

Language is a critical part of the site metaphor, the user interface, and the user experience. It includes vocabulary, word choice, punctuation, and synonyms.

A key element is guidance. Guidance text is a tricky thing. Too many “click here” statements can send a message to the user that he must be an idiot, or that your designer hasn’t a clue about designing and building. Conversely, a user who doesn’t get enough guidance on a page can become lost, or fail to achieve his goals. A consistent, intuitive navigation scheme is the solution.

Punctuation has its pitfalls. Do you use quotation marks or italics? When do you use the exclamation point? Your exclamation point might mean that you’re excited about what you’re just said. To the user it may make him feel like he’s just been yelled at. Capital letters make some users feel yelled at too.

Another key area is the terms used to describe the functionality of the site. In a shopping cart, what’s the difference between Order and Invoice? Find, Browse, and Search do not mean the same things. They each have distinct connotations for the user.

Category titles and headers should say what you mean. Leave the cute metaphors to the artsy types and their ego sites.

Language is extraordinarily flexible. With tone, vocabulary, and style you can make the difference between ease of use and user irritation. Language can make or break the user experience. Or it can be the great foundation of a user-friendly site.


  • Speak the user’s language
  • Assign a Language Czar
  • Guide users with link text
  • Avoid confusing metaphors