10 Takeaways After Tracking Advisors’ Tweets For 2 Years

The moving truck came a few weeks ago and took the AdvisorTweets database, files, analytics and Twitter account over to its new home at Smarsh, the email archiving and compliance solutions company. We’ll all just have to wait and see how Smarsh takes the site ("what are advisors thinking?”) to the next level it deserves.

Sigh.

As I said when I announced its sale, I really love AdvisorTweets—although for me it was a crazy, no-revenue model, distraction/indulgence that I obsessed about for two years. And, I’m proud of who I “engaged with” as @AdvisorTweets, which as of July 21 was the #7th most followed personal finance Twitter account, according to Sulia.com.

Hard to believe that AdvisorTweets would have ranked higher than Mint.com's Twitter account, right? The Sulia people said that's because the rankings were based both on activity and personal finance-specific (as opposed to consumer) Twitter lists. As of today, AdvisorTweets had been added to 178 Twitter lists.

I mention its ranking (which has unfortunately slipped during the ownership transition but can no doubt rebound with renewed activity) as proof that practice does produce results. That was important for me to demonstrate, what with all the social media talking up that goes on at Rock The Boat Marketing.

Most Important: Advisors Are Knowable

Advisors are knowable, thanks to their participation in social media and specifically Twitter.

Since I started my first marketing communications job at Kemper Funds in the mid-1990s, I have marveled at the lengths that marketing colleagues would go to in order to understand financial advisors. Traveling with wholesalers (Cracker Barrel, anyone?), networking at financial advisor events, fielding surveys, hosting focus groups—no stone was unturned to create an artificial setting for the purpose of extrapolating what a handful of advisors would tell us. That was as good as it got back in the day.

That’s what I wrote on September 16, 2009, when I launched AdvisorTweets with little more than an expectation that it could be helpful for my clients, you, me and anyone (including advisors' clients and prospects, too) seeking to better understand advisors in real-time.

In fact, it has been a bit of a lab/listening and learning post. My sincere thanks to the advisors who let me showcase their tweets and learn from them in the kind of ambient way that online social is so good for.

I intend to continue to rely on AdvisorTweets and its awesome search capability. (There is no other search engine that searches just financial advisor tweets.) For now, though, let me open my scrapbook and share a few random insights gained from listening in on tweeting advisors morning, noon and night for two years.

1. Not So Much With The Clicking

Advisors don’t like online slide shows. At least not when they’re in the information-foraging mode. No, no, pretty much No. I could offer a few tweets as examples here but there's no need to get ugly.

If you have valuable content, provide it in an accessible, usable format and stand back. Otherwise, you're just testing the patience of busy people with other places (sites) to go to.

2. They Will Talk Back

Social media is empowering and tweeting advisors are quintessentially empowered media consumers—they consume media, often while concurrently having their say on Twitter.

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3. They're Marketers Too, Remember

Advisors can be pretty funny. It pains me to say this, but they are at their most sarcastic when they’re commenting on marketing, often your marketing.

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4. Hey, Save Something For Them To Work With

The price of something and how to squeeze value out of it is a common theme among advisors. They're quite aware of the value of the dollar.

5. Self-selection?

Most advisors tweet to raise their profile (and it largely works). So naturally they’re conscious of their profile…and many of them know what you’re thinking. As happens, they’re thinking the same thing.

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6. Treat ’Em Like The (Tech) VIPs They Are

Some advisors (and these include some of my favorites) just can’t get enough of new Websites, technology and beta invites. I mentioned this in my 2010 year-end post for MFWire but for maximum impact, you might want to launch something with a digital velvet rope.

And, whatever you do, make sure you let Atlanta RIA Russ Thornton know about it. I referred to @RussThornton as today's version of the corner office advisor in an April 2009 Rock The Boat Marketing blog post. If he likes what you’re up to, he’ll make sure his significant advisor following hears about it.

For fun, I’ve listed below some of the new sites and apps that Russ has tweeted beta invitations to in the last seven months alone. We all do digital marketing as our livelihood, right? Russ doesn’t, he’s a financial advisor. Um, how many of these do you know?

Advisors can get behind something, they can get excited. My question for you: What could you build or offer that will capture Russ (and other tech enthusiast) advisors' attentions?

7. All Social All The Time

Nobody’s more active in the community in real life than financial advisors. The blurring lines between business and private relationships in online communities? They're used to it.

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8.  Pithy Pays

Advisors like stories—how many times have we marketers heard that? Some of the advisors’ tweets provide a glimpse of how the stories are used. And guess what? Months later, I find myself recalling advisors' turns of 140-word phrases.

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9. Feed The Beast Already

Advisors expect and use RSS functionality. I know this from the back-end of AdvisorTweets, where it’s obvious that the content they share is content discovered by their RSS readers. If your site still doesn’t offer RSS feeds, don't be surprised if advisors start to call you on it, too.

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10. There May Be No End To What They'll Slice And Dice

They do love their data.

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With the AdvisorTweets site, blog and Twitter account now in Smarsh's capable hands, I will be focusing exclusively on this site, my Twitter account and whatever I figure out to do on Google+. If you've been following @RockTheBoatMKTG on Twitter and found yourself underwhelmed by the account's output, my apologies—that's about to change.