Want proof that advisers need to be engaged in social media? In a recent report the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission clarified that its Regulation FD rules permit companies to use social media outlets to make significant corporate announcements, provided that those sites are generally accessible to the public and that investors have been notified about which social channels a firm intends to use.

The move will have the greatest impact on advisers who track individual equities, says Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor, a Dallas-based consultancy. By establishing sites like Facebook and Twitter as a legitimate outlet for corporate communications, the guidance pushes advisers to cast a wider net as they gather information to inform investing recommendations.

"In my opinion, all roads are leading to greater transparency, so financial advisers who utilize individual equity strategies are going to definitely want to keep up with Twitter accounts from publicly traded companies," she says.

Duane Thompson, senior policy analyst at the adviser consultancy fi360, suggests that the impact for most advisers will be limited. One reason is the decline in active management. "Passive investing is steadily gaining market share. Indexers don't give a hoot about CEO tweets," he says. "I don't think you're going to see advisers rush to sign up for a bunch of CEO Facebook pages."

The ruling will probably apply to a limited number of sites with wide adoption. As part of its ruling, the SEC suggested companies consider whether the social site in question could reasonably be considered an outlet to convey the information to the general public, rather than a select group.

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