In this week's MailBag, we look at a question about how to get started using Twitter (and other social media) as a busy financial planner. What are the tools for efficiency, and what are the tips and tricks to get started easily?
Comment/Question: I'm trying to enter the Twittersphere, and post on Twitter at least once or twice per day during the week. I have been looking at what you, THE KING, are doing. Either you have no life what-so-ever other than social media (which I'm sure is not the case) or you have a formula for how you tweet all day long, every day. How are you coming up with so many posts where there is a steady stream all day? Do you spend an hour putting them all together each day and then auto-posting? I don't want to post as often as you by any means, but I'd like to hear about any efficiencies you have built into your day.
Well, I'll confess that I'm known to be a bit of a workaholic, but that's not how I keep up my social media activity. Instead, it's a combination of a little technology leverage from some good software applications, and just creating an environment for myself that makes it easy to stay connected to and active on social media.
In the hopes that it's helpful, then, here are a few of my "tips and tricks" as an active social media participant:
- Get some good Twitter software apps. It's a lot easier to keep up with Twitter when you have good tools that help you easily scan to see what's going on in your timeline and if there's anything you want to share, not to mention seeing who's been replying to or mentioning you. I’m a fan of the web version of TweetDeck on the desktop (create an account and log in and then it's easy to get the same tools and interface from any computer!); Hootsuite is a fine option as well, and is especially well suited for monitoring and posting on multiple platforms at once (e.g., Twitter, and LinkedIn, and a Facebook business page, etc.). I'll confess that to just scan my Twitter stream for what people are sharing, I prefer TweetDeck, although I keep HootSuite open in a browser tab as well for the times I occasionally want to cross-post to multiple platforms.
- Use your mobile device. Twitter isn't just for desktops; if you've got a tablet or smartphone, you can always take a peek at the latest on your Twitter timeline or your lists when you've got a few minutes of downtime. A lot of stuff I retweet is done in the 2-3 minutes I’m standing in a line somewhere – I just pull out my tablet and peek at whether there’s anything interesting to share. If you’re following people you find interesting, it’s usually pretty easy to find some things to share! For Twitter apps, I highly recommend Plume if you're on an Android device. If you’re an Apple/iPad/iPhone user, I hear the official Twitter app works well, and you can also get the app version of HootSuite.
- Sort your content. As you follow more and more people you find interesting over time, you'll quickly realize that the volume is overwhelming. On the one hand, don't stress about the volume - you're never intended to read "everything" in your timeline. Twitter is more like stepping in to eavesdrop on a party conversation, share a few comments if you wish, just repeat what you heard if you're so inclined (which is ok on Twitter - if people didn't want it repeated, they wouldn't say it in public!); it's acknowledged that you may be coming in part way through the conversation, and that you may leave before it's over. That being said, you can manage the volume using Twitter lists, which I highly recommend, and the platforms noted earlier will let you set up a separate column for each list so you can track them separately for easier reading/scanning. You can see a list of the Lists I use on my Twitter page here (in fact, you can select one of them and follow them yourself if you find it helpful!), and there are lots of primers out there about how to set up lists (such as this one). In point of fact, over the past few months I have been trying to reduce how many people I follow directly, and instead shift them to Lists so that I can track the activity better (no offense to anyone I recently unfollowed; I'm still reading you, just in a different column!).
- Share what you’re reading. If you see an article you like as you're reading your favorite blogs/websites/online magazines/emailed article links, go ahead and tweet it out while you’re there. If you’ve got convenient Twitter software already, it only takes seconds to cut and paste the link and Tweet it out. If you're using Google's Chrome browser software, there are a number of Twitter extensions to make this even easier (for what I use, see below).
- Check out a Twitter scheduling app. Hootsuite has an option built in (as does TweetDeck), but my scheduler of choice is Buffer. I’ve got Buffer set up to send out four tweets interspersed through the day, and I queue up almost everything I read into Buffer. Thus, if I scan through a dozen articles on a slow Sunday, I populate them into Buffer (which is easy with the Buffer interface, and even easier if you use the Buffer extension for Chrome; Buffer has extensions for many other browsers as well!). With the articles queued up in Buffer, that means Buffer will tweet out four of my queued tweets per day through the coming days, which means I’m all set through Wednesday. If I read more, I queue up more. If it’s something particularly timely, I might just share it immediately. Ultimately I did this just to smooth out my tweets a bit; before Buffer, I had a tendency to send out a huge slew of articles when I was doing a lot of reading, and then sharing nothing for the next few days because I was too reading to read those days.
- Retweet often. If you see stuff you like that you think is relevant to your audience, retweet it! You found it, you share it, that’s still valuable for your audience, especially if you’re trying to focus on sharing what you think would be useful for your audience! In other words, don’t put too much burden on yourself to read/write to find interesting things for your Twitter timeline; yes, some of it should be yours, but a lot of it can be from others too! This fits well with the earlier points as well – use software that makes it easy for you to quickly scan the Twitter feed of people you follow when you have a quick few minutes, so that it’s easy for you to find some things to retweet to share with your audience.
I hope that helps a little as some starting food for thought? For some further starting tips on Twitter - including how to get started if you don't even want to post/tweet/share anything yet - you can see one of my prior articles here. And of course, be certain that you're doing this in a compliant manner, consistent with your firm's social media policy!
Good luck to you, and I hope to see you on Twitter!
For some additional tips, you might also check out this video interview I did with Investment News at the Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference: