Maria Merricks asks three of the industry's most prolific Tweeters why they use the social networking device.
Time and time again advisers are being told the importance of social media within a marketing strategy, yet there are still a large number finding the concept hard to grasp.
One tool that has commentators raving is Twitter and it is widely agreed more advisers need to embrace it.
Professional Adviser asked three of the most prominent Tweeters in the industry to share their strategies and success stories…
Martin Bamford, managing director, Informed Choice
I started using Twitter around three years ago and it became an integral part of my online networking just over a year ago.
It has been fascinating to see how quickly Twitter has evolved from new ‘fad’ to a mainstream way of communicating with friends, colleagues and prospective clients.
Twitter is important because it offers such instant feedback and a wide variety of people with whom I can interact. It is so valuable because it provides real life search results; I can post a question on Twitter about almost anything and get a range of informed feedback within minutes from people I know and can therefore trust.
This makes it so much more appealing than a search engine where the results are impersonal and require lots of additional research.
Another real benefit of Twitter is as a promotional tool. I use it to share links to my own blogs or articles, and also to link to articles where I have been quoted.
Twitter is responsible for around 5% of our total website traffic each month, making an important contribution to the overall success of our website. As a way to raise your profile and become known for your expertise, Twitter is invaluable.
Once people get to know who you are and what you do, they quickly start to refer you to others. This is either done directly or through the weekly phenomenon that is #followfriday, where Twitter users suggest other people to follow.
My tweets are a healthy mix of personal and business content, which is important to keep people interested in what they are reading and to help them understand your qualities as a real person.
There is an active and growing IFA community on Twitter already, which makes it a powerful tool for research and development. I would recommend not only becoming a member of Twitter but actively using it on a daily basis to get real value from the platform.
Alistair Cunningham, director, Wingate Financial Planning
Twitter is an excellent networking tool, and it is easy to forget how few people actually use it. Chiefly, I connect to those I share interests with.
This is, of course, financial planning but also includes photography and my other ‘geeky’ pleasures!
A much understated use of the tool is education, and I get a significant proportion of my news from Twitter. It is very easy to ‘tune in’ to topics I am interested in.
To this end, I find two tools invaluable - my6sense, which identifies Twitter and other news items I would be interested in (and allows me to Tweet results to my followers), and Tweetdeck, which makes it very easy to monitor a variety of Tweets from widely different people on a diverse range of topics.
I do not believe Twitter is a customer gathering tool, but it makes it easy to keep in contact with existing clients. 2011 will be Wingate Financial Planning’s ‘Year of Education’ and I can see Twitter complimenting this.
I enjoy a close online relationship with some great people: a CFP in Thailand, the ubiquitous Martin Bamford, the disrespectful but genuinely funny “IFABlogger” and professional paraplanner, Richard Allum.
My use of Twitter has been worthwhile in meeting these four, all of whom share my passion for financial planning, photography and gadgets.
I do not actively encourage clients to follow me on Twitter. My online personality is no different than my face-to-face identity, but online content is easy to misconstrue.
My Tweets range from the dry and technical, to the trivial and irreverent. When Tweeting I do a quick mental test; “What would my mother/wife/colleagues/clients think about this Tweet?”
If it is not acceptable to all audiences I avoid sending it. To this end I have a Wingate Financial Planning account, which will be promoted to clients.
Dennis Hall, managing director, Yellowtail Financial Planning
I am one of a small and growing group of financial planners who have been using Twitter for a couple of years.
Admittedly I have been finding my feet around Twitter for much of that time, and wondering how to benefit from it commercially rather than the simply being social on it.
At its most passive level I have used it to stay in touch with similarly minded people, and there has been an element of talent pooling. Other planners have different interests and skills to me, and they have used Twitter to point me (and other followers) to sources of helpful information they have found, or material they have published on their blogs and websites.
Over the last 12 months I have been an active Tweeter and blogger and I have done my share of disseminating information via Twitter. It has not all been financial services, or even all business; with a variety of different followers I can pick up on what concerns the rest of the population.
One of the biggest benefits I have found is the ease of talking to journalists, picking up on news and adding to the wider debate.
Twitter is often a speedier source of information than the traditional news channels. Watching stories evolve is exciting. I can see a benefit in being someone on Twitter who has something to say, rather than just telling the world that I am popping out for a coffee.
Banal chatter tends to put the detractors off, but Twitter has some really powerful tools they are in danger of missing. Twitter is a goldmine of useful data. If used alongside LinkedIn and Facebook it can assist you to connect with people who you may not know already, but who are hugely influential among people you want to do business with.
This feature of social media is massively underestimated and I intend to fully explore its capabilities throughout 2011.
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