Social media case study: the value of Twitter for one advisor

Twitter, by far, is my favorite social networking site, so I’m really glad to see advisors embracing it.

Twitter is an easy and efficient way to get information (about the Iowa Hawkeyes, for example), have conversations (with peers, colleagues and experts) and be entertained (reading @sochiproblems was so funny). I rarely have time to watch the news, pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio, but I always have my iPhone – and Twitter feed – with me.

Advisors are starting to see the benefits of Twitter as well. And not only as a source of information, but as a tool that can help build brand awareness and generate new business. To understand the value advisors are realizing on Twitter, I sat down with advisor Brent Williams to ask him about his use of Twitter.

Why Twitter?

Williams was inspired to use social media after attending a conference and reading, Social Boom, in the fall of 2010. He realized the opportunity early and joined LinkedIn, then plunged into the Twittershpere.

“Twitter is a relationship platform. And what is our business about? Relationships,” Williams said.“That is why I believe advisors should be on Twitter. And not a company doing the posts for you. You need to put the time and effort in when connecting with people.”

Williams uses Twitter to connect with people, create relationships and establish himself as a financial services expert. He, like many advisors, knows there’s business to be had if it’s used correctly. In fact, according to Investment News, nearly 28%[i] of advisors are using Twitter to attract new clients.

Identify your target audience and deliver relevant content – regularly

Like most advisors having success on social media, Williams identified his target audience and social media goals before he jumped on. He knew he wanted to target Des Moines-area business owners by sharing content that’s relevant to them.

“I try and find information that I like to read … that I get value from. Information that’s worth sharing,” he said. “If it helps me on a personal or business level, I share it. I believe that is what my clients want from me.”

His Twitter posts include information about saving for retirement, insurance, economic trends, general financial planning, inspiring quotes and even personal tidbits.

Be active and engage in conversations

Williams takes it one step further than most advisors I see on Twitter – he monitors the conversations of those he follows and joins their conversations if he believes he can add value.

He does that by looking for conversations where he can pose a business-related question or offer his expert opinion. If he can’t do that, he looks for an opportunity to bring others (those he follows) into the conversation. By doing so, Williams is making the most of his time at the largest “cocktail party” in the world by:

  1. Introducing himself to lots of new people;
  2. Introducing friends and colleagues to those he knows and positioning them as the expert; and
  3. Offering helpful advice or questions to keep conversations going and position himself as a helpful and  knowledgeable resource.

Thinking about joining Twitter?

Twitter certainly offers a lot of upside – both personally and professionally – but it’s not for everyone. As with any social network, consider your goals, time commitment and opportunity before joining. Williams offers these tips as well:

  • Be consistent and get involved
  • Devote some time to your social media initiatives – Williams blocks off a few hours every Monday to manage his social accounts and periodically monitors them through the week
  • Share great experiences (i.e. restaurants, events, etc.), which might generate common interests
  • Be cognizant of what you share – don’t share anything you don’t want to be associated with

So what about you? How and why are you using Twitter? Are you using it personally, professionally or both? Do you have any success stories or tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter.

[1] Investment News, Aug. 2013, Advisors and social media



For more information, check me out on Twitter, where I regularly share social media tips, advice, trends and more, including how to build your business with social. Follow me at @jonferchen.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company, member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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