Ignoring social media doesn't cut it anymore for financial advisors. A large percentage are using digital tools as a regular element in their marketing. Many are moving beyond the familiar, old-guard sites—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter—and taking alternative approaches to find clients locally and around the world.
Here are seven creative ways that financial advisors are showcasing their expertise online, and winning business as a result.
1. Interviewing With the Pros
Jason Hull, a registered investment adviser in Fort Worth, Texas, provides a little something extra: video interviews with financial gurus.
"I'm spotlighting people who have experience that I think is important for my readers," said Hull, an hourly fee-only adviser who has discussed annuities versus bonds with Wade Pfau, a professor of retirement income at The American College, and financial planning targeted to women with Wendy Boglioli, an Olympic gold medalist who is now an insurance expert.
Since starting his firm nine months ago, Hull has posted nine interviews, which he conducts via Google Hangouts and posts to YouTube and his website. His Web traffic has risen about 20 percent.
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2. Soldiering a Brand
After serving a tour of duty in Iraq in the National Guard and starting a financial advisory firm in Carbondale, Ill., Jeff Rose created a personal finance brand inspired by his military background. The money management tips on his blog, YouTube videos and e-newsletter preach discipline—"How to Apply the Crossfit Principles to Accomplishing Your Goals"—and his book, "Solider of Finance," is due out in September.
Rose, who manages more than $30 million for his clients, said attracting 150,000 to 200,000 visitors to his website each month has helped pull in about $5 million to $6 million in assets over the past few years. The target range of investable assets is about $100,000.
3. Piloting WebTV
With a client base made up mostly of retirees working on income plans, Steve Casto, a registered investment adviser in Omaha, Neb., wasn't getting much traction with Facebook and Twitter. So in December, he began cutting three- to five-minute videos in his office about timely topics (how derivatives could cause the next market downturn, for example) and started posting them on his website.
"I did radio for a long time, and everyone kept saying that voice is good, but picture is better," said Casto, who manages $40 million to $60 million in assets for clients whose target range of investable assets is $750,000. Current clients tend to share his video links, he said, adding that three new customers have referred to them.
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4. Blogging About Taxes and Turtles
The nesting habits of loggerhead turtles may not have a lot to do with investing, but Kathryn Schwartz, founder of Pawleys Investment Advisors, has found a way to connect the two to make her blog posts rank higher on Google searches.
Schwartz, who moved to coastal South Carolina from San Francisco four years ago, intertwines investor information, such as state tax codes and tax-free municipal bond inventory, with themes that visitors and locals are likely to search for on the web.
Pawleys manages just under $15 million in assets for clients, with a target range of investable assets of $400,000 to $500,000.
Traffic to Schwartz's blog has more than quadrupled in the past three months.
5. Marrying Old and New Media
Stan Molotsky, founder and president of SHM Financial in Voorhees, N.J., is hesitant about social media. "I'm being pushed into it kicking and screaming," he said. But he's found an effective method of getting in front of prospective clients who live around the firm's offices: radio and blogging.
Molotsky, whose firm manages $40 million to $50 million under its fee-based direct money management side, hosts a weekly hour-long radio show covering topics ranging from personal exit strategies to the interest rate environment, and writes commentary on timely issues for a local blog.
While most new clients come to him on referral, the radio and blogging contribute a small percentage of new business each year and help reinforce his brand, Molotsky said.
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6. Pinning Hopes to Pinterest
Nine months ago, Mindy Crary changed the name of her personal Pinterest page to mirror her company's—Creative Money—and started pinning her financial planning blog posts alongside her collection of animal, fashion and "visually awesome" photos.
Crary, a money coach in Seattle charging $200 an hour to help guide people out of debt or to save for retirement (among other things), has landed three clients from the site. They are all self-employed women, "people who felt a kinship with me apart from finance," said Crary, who sees about 100 clients a year.
7. Dishing Out Know-How
Time spent replying to potential investors' questions on NerdWallet's Ask an Advisor isn't wasted for Lyman Howard, founder and partner of Point Bonita Wealth Advisors in San Francisco.
While the new platform aims to connect certified advisers with people who need them, Howard uses it as a motivation to sit down and write on a subject within his area of expertise. Though the post is directed to Ask an Advisor, he can also push it to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Since February, 400 to 500 people have visited Howard's profile on Ask an Advisor. Point Bonita has just over $3 million under management and serves clients with investable assets of $500,000 to $2 million.
_ By Maggie Overfelt, Special to CNBC.com