This post has been written from my own personal Twitter experience and observations. It has been specifically written for financial services firms and professionals. However, most businesses would find it useful.
If you are new to Twitter you will benefit from reading - Twitter For Financial Services Professionals
Watch out as Twitter is maturing
When I first started using Twitter I was amazed how many tweets from so called 'professionals and experts' that amounted to gobbledygook. Every second tweet was a snippet of information, such as 'I'm sitting in the airport lounge' or 'I'm on the way out to dinner'. While this still goes on (and not such a bad thing - keep reading), it has mostly been replaced with useful information.
As a result of this maturity, the Twitter experience is now far superior to what is once was for all users. Great information is now shared and discussed at a rate that would have been unthinkable to a few years ago.
Twitter as a news source
Twitter is fast becoming the first place to go to for news. People use Twitter to keep up to date with news that headlines the world over to the news that is affecting their local business community. Twitter has taken over as the prime source of debate and discussion. You'll find that just about every journalist and news station has a Twitter account and encourages a following.
Business is now using Twitter as a preferred option to share news. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allow companies to tweet out their latest company data and Bloomberg quickly followed with Twitter feeds.
What does all this mean for you? If you have some news to talk about, people will expect you to tweet it. But it's not that simple as people also expect you to respond and businesses are struggling with this new expectation. Not so long ago you could publish a press release, answer a few questions from journalists and move on. Not anymore - You are now more accountable for your news.
Twitter crosses other social media platforms
Facebook is the dominant 'friends and family' social media platform and LinkedIn is the place for professionals to share and debate information. Rarely do LinkedIn and Facebook cross paths. However, Twitter doesn't have those boundaries. Information posted on LinkedIn and Facebook are often posted onto Twitter. People like the speed of Twitter to interact with family, friends, business and just about anything else.
What does this cross platform opportunity mean for you? For some businesses and professionals the biggest decision when venturing into social media is whether you use Facebook or LinkedIn. Much will depend upon the demographics of your clients and you may end up using both. However, Twitter is a 'no brainer' as it fits well with both platforms and it should be a part of your social media arsenal.
The biggest mistake made by businesses on Twitter
Businesses fall for the trap of posting something on Twitter and thinking 'job done'. I guess this is a throwback to the old marketing days of just getting your message out. All too often I see major corporations posting a single tweet about something new and then going into hiding.
Twitter is intended to be fast and interactive. Before sending information out you must consider the messages you want to relay. You need to know your target market and how you will you engage with them. Just sending out messages and ignoring your target market is a recipe for disappointment.
Twitter to engage real opportunities
Ultimately we all want to create more business opportunities and Twitter is now seen as a must have platform . However, Twitter is not without its challenges and most businesses (and professionals) struggle with the new concept of engaging opportunities with just 140 characters.
Companies tend to get a better response if a 'real person' can represent them. Makes sense when you think about it, as it's easier to have a conversation with a real person than with a company. Because of this we are seeing companies, both large and small having figureheads representing them.
The most obvious figureheads from the Australian financial world include Craig James from Comsec and Alan Kohler of the Business Spectator/ABC TV. Both interact well with their followers and happy to show some personality.
Many financial advisers and myself have a greater following on Twitter than national financial groups.
What it all demonstrates is the need to inject some personality into your tweets. The 'Know, like and trust' principal shines through on social media. This brings me back to the earlier point of sharing snippets of information about you. Allow people to get to know you that little bit more and the like and trust will follow. A good time to do this is Friday's and over the weekend.
The best opportunities for Twitter in your business
By now you should know where this is heading. The opportunity is to be engaged with your target market. Here are some tips:
- Start following people and businesses that meet your target market
- If your target market is 'mass market' for example, you may be a national business, focus on people who are influential in that market space
- Share tweets, better still when re-tweeting add a comment such as 'Must read for financial advisers'
- Respond to comments when you are mentioned
- Listen in - Follow keywords and if you can add value to a conversation, do so
- Send multiple tweets out with different and catchy lines, even for the same article that you could be promoting
- Make it easy for others to share your tweet - Give each tweet a cushion of at least 20 characters if you want them re-tweeted
- Get educated - Training early on along with some tools will get you off to a great start. On-going support will also be vital.
Don't overlook the opportunity to take engagement to another level. I have met with many Twitter followers physically face to face and of course using tools like Skype and Google Plus. Invite someone to have a chat so that you can share more about your business. They will become more engaged and ready to help you on Twitter.
Twitter is changing, growing and becoming more important in the daily lives of business and everyday people. There is an expectation of businesses and professionals being accessible on Twitter - but being on board is not good enough as you must also be effective. So stick at it, use it daily and focus upon engagement as opposed to flogging a product or a service.
For strategic support, training and know how - Contact Humble Financial Services