Participating in social media allows investment dealers and their advisors to accumulate currency, assets and goodwill in the “influence economy,” according to Jay Palter, principal with Edmonto-based Palter Social Media Strategies.

“Opportunities come to us when we are building equity in the influence economy,” said Palter in Toronto at the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) Social Media Conference on Thursday.

In the influence economy, currency consists of the “likes,” “retweets” and sharing functions of various social media platforms.

“Every time we stop and click a “like” button or share on a social network,” said Palter, “we are paying attention to that person, we are literally paying them with our attention.”

While social media users spend and earn currency through the use of Twitter or LinkedIn, they can also accumulate assets.

For Palter, networks and content are the assets of the influence economy. Good quality content that is published on a company site or an individual advisor’s website, he said, generates online visitors, or traffic, meaning more attention for the advisor and his or her firm.

“When you’re producing content and sharing information in the world, you’re planting an asset that’s going to increase in value,” he said. “It’s not just an article that’s going to go out in a newsletter by email.”

Networks — the other asset in the influence economy — are proving to be a little troublesome as questions begin to emerge over ownership.

Says Palter: “It’s a legitimate question that people are going to start talking about more seriously.” For example, if an advisor opens a LinkedIn account after he or she joins a firm and proceeds to build up a network over the next 10 years, who owns that network? The advisor? The company?

The end goal in trying to build equity in the influence economy, according to Palter, should be to build up social capital or, in other words, goodwill.

“Once we have social capital there’s all kinds of ways we can use it,” said Palter.

For example, social capital can be used to attract leads that have learned about an advisor through an article the advisor wrote or shared.