Practical analysis for investment professionals
27 March 2012

The Financial Adviser’s Guide to Twitter

Have you ever wondered why some tweets are valued more than others? (Think of the people you’ve followed, or “unfollowed,” in recent months and why.) Well, the wait is over. A new study, “Who Gives a Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value,” provides some answers.

Three researchers from Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Georgia Tech created a website that encouraged Twitter users to give feedback to accounts they followed in exchange for feedback from their own followers and other users. The result was 43,738 tweet ratings from 1,443 users.

What they learned was that the three most-liked categories were:

  • questions to followers;
  • information sharing; and
  • self-promotion (sharing links that you created).

On the flip side, the most disliked categories were:

  • presence maintenance (“hello twitter”);
  • conversations; and
  • “me now” (a person’s current status).

The team drilled a bit deeper and learned there were several reasons why some tweets were not valued. Among them: repeating old news and using too many # and @ signs.

“Ratings revealed that our users primarily valued Twitter as an information medium,” the authors wrote.

That makes a lot of sense. My colleague Stewart Mader, director of social and online tools at CFA Institute, is a proponent of Twitter for financial advisers. “It’s more real-time than LinkedIn, more professionally oriented than Facebook, and more public than both,” he said. “All good things for building awareness and reputation.”

He says to think of content sharing — for example tweeting an interesting article — as “a conversation starter, reputation builder, and awareness generator.” (To see how Mader uses his account, follow him at @slmader.)
With this in mind, here are some helpful pointers for successful tweeting courtesy of “Be Better at Twitter: The Definitive, Data-Driven Guide,” an article from the Atlantic based on the study mentioned above:

• Old news is no news: Twitter emphasizes real-time information, so information rapidly gets stale. Followers quickly get bored of even relatively fresh links seen multiple times.

• Contribute to the story: To keep people interested, add an opinion, a pertinent fact, or otherwise add to the conversation before hitting “send” on a retweet.

• Keep it short: Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, but followers still appreciate conciseness. Using as few characters as possible also leaves room for longer, more satisfying comments on retweets.

• Limit Twitter-specific syntax: Overuse of #hashtags, @mentions, and abbreviations makes tweets hard to read. But some syntax is helpful; if posing a question, adding a hashtag helps everyone follow along.

• Keep it to yourself: The clichéd “sandwich” tweets about pedestrian, personal details were largely disliked. Reviewers reserved a special hatred for Foursquare location check-ins.

• Provide context. Tweets that are too short leave readers unable to understand their meaning. Simply linking to a blog or photo, without giving readers a reason to click on it, was described as “lame.”

• Don’t whine: Negative sentiments and complaints were disliked.

• Be a tease: News or professional organizations that want readers to click on their links need to hook the reader, not give away all of the news in the tweet itself.

For more on how financial advisers are using social media to get an edge, read “Social Graces” from CFA Magazine. And to better understand some of the risks and challenges that social media pose for your wealthy clients and their families, I recommend the white paper “Family Security & Social Media: Protecting Your Family from Security Gaps in Social Media.”

You can also read the February issue of CFA Institute’s Private Wealth Management Newsletter, which focused on social media.

For resources and tips on social media, check out:

About the Author(s)
Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster was a content director on the professional learning team at CFA Institute and host of the Take 15 Podcast. She is the former managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Lauren spent nearly a decade on staff at the Financial Times as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau, followed by freelance writing for Barron’s and the FT. Lauren holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

5 thoughts on “The Financial Adviser’s Guide to Twitter”

  1. Great post Lauren! A follow-up post on how Social Media is impacting the Ethical norms defined by the CFA Institute would be great!! I know that there is a pre-defined format for declaring your candidature on LinkedIn, but what about Twitter and Facebook?

    A simple search on Twitter for “CFA” gave me 150+ profiles (post which I stopped counting :)). Are there any particular standards for Social Media that candidates need to be aware of?

  2. Wrote a blog post on some best practices for using social media (and Web) for information-gathering and investing. There’s an overwhelming amount of great info out there, a few tweaks to how you use tools can go a long way.

  3. Bruce says:

    I’m a Twitter newbie who has just been feeling his way along … so I found this article most worthwhile … now to ramp up my game … thanks
    – Thaiinvestment

  4. Brooks says:

    Thanks for this value able article. I have read all the things very carefully, its really a helpful and effective post. Self Managed Super Funds

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