MailBag: How To Get Started On Twitter As A Busy Financial Planner

Posted by Michael Kitces on Thursday, March 28th, 11:03 am, 2013 in MailBag

Many readers of this blog contact me directly with questions and comments. While often the responses are very specific to a particular circumstance, occasionally the subject matter is general enough that it might be of interest to others as well. Accordingly, I will occasionally post a new "MailBag" article, presenting the question or comment (on a strictly anonymous basis!) and my response, in the hopes that the discussion may be useful food for thought.

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?

Twitter LogoComment/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:

  • Derek Lawson


    Great article! I really enjoy the extensions available for social media on Google Chrome as they allow me to quickly share content. I’ve never used Buffer, I will have to check that out but I have started using Hootsuite and enjoy it.

    Thanks for the tip regarding setting up lists (as well as adding me to one of your lists)!


  • Brian Frederick

    I remember parts of this from our discussion before your speech in February at @fpaofphoenix. Thanks for putting your thoughts down where I can come back and reference them!

  • Maria Marsala

    Enjoyed reading your tips. I’m going to make sure that I’m doing them all :)

    Instead of Buffer, I’ve been testing Gremln. I really like that I can post once and have it sent to Twitter, FB and LinkedIn. I have Buffer on my list to check out next. They seem to do similar things to Gremln. What other types of programs have you tested?

    Like you, I post tweets as I see the opportunity. I also try to comment on the article/etc. before posting. This lets others, who read comments, to possibly connect with me on another level.

    Tweets I like I put in an email and once a week I send it to my assistant. She schedules them for me on Gremlin. This lets me spend some time on Twitter each day connecting with my followers, retweeting their posts, etc.

    I’m also testing a system that has told me what time my Twitter followers “appear to be online”. I say appear to be because it’s base on when Tweets are sent and some of us use scheduling systems. :) We’re sending my Tweets out at the times their system has told me to send them, and my followers and RTs have grown substantially in the past month, it seems, partially do to this change.

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  • Anna Sergunina

    Michael: I do all my tweets from the computer, thru hootesuite. But would like to use my iphone more for tweeting on the go:) I track clicks of my urls that I tweet/re-tweet thru google url shortner. I am trying to figure out how to use iphone and still be able to shorten urls on the mobile device? It seems a bit cumbersome. I have hootsuite app on my phone. Any suggestions?

  • Michael Kitces

    I haven’t looked at Gremln, but it sounds identical to Buffer, which also allows posts to be queued up simultaneously for Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn. That’s not unique to Gremln. The reason I like Buffer is the add-on integration in Chrome, so I can queue articles into Buffer directly from the page, without ever logging into Buffer directly.

    I have to admit, I haven’t been that excited about the services that try to ‘time’ my tweets. I’m just not convinced they have enough data unless you’re a brand with 100,000k+ of followers. That aside, I find most of them are remarkably generic with their conclusions – I don’t need software to tell me that my followers are less likely to retweet me between the hours of 9pm and 7am. :) But if you find something that actually conveys useful information that produces a material change in results, I’d be curious to hear!
    – Michael

  • Maria Marsala

    Well, as I mentioned, I seem to be getting more RT and favorites to my posts since we’ve been sending them at certain times on the weekends and certain times on the weekdays.

    I’m actually posting more tweets earlier in the day (7-8am on one day)because of what the initial stats showed.

    We are using And as I said, if any system is using “time a post is sent out by a particular person, then the only way the stats would be right more often is if their system can detect scheduled posts.

    However, a system that is automated is better than me trying to figure it all out :) So I’ll bow to them for now and see what the results are.

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