I remember the first days of Twitter. In fact, I recall speaking about Twitter at an ASPPA 401(k) Summit in 2006. People laughed and said there was no way any sensible person would ever tweet.
As of July 2012, the social network has passed the half a billion mark of created profiles — 517 million worldwide (141.8 million registered in the United States). This means Twitter is the second-largest social networking site after Facebook; many savvy people are, in fact, tweeting.
How does Twitter differ from the other social sites? I think one of the best definitions I’ve heard, paraphrased with my own addition, is as follows: Facebook is for people you knew, LinkedIn is for people you know, and Twitter is for people that you want to know. Obviously the circles of these relationships intersect; each social site has some capacity to serve every purpose.
There’s still a perception among some that Twitter is for sharing pizza preferences and posting minute-by-minute updates on inconsequential subjects. While that does still happen, business takes place, ideas are shared, articles are re-tweeted, and political uprisings occur, also. (Pope Francis has a Twitter account @Pontifex. The Dalai Lama, President Obama, and the Israeli and Palestinian armies can all be found and followed on Twitter, too.)
Getting started is simple. Simply set up an account and begin following people. Doing this ensures your Twitter feed will display all of their tweets. Start by adding your friends and colleagues, reporters, industry leaders, government agencies, political candidates, and brands to your follow list. Fast Company recently recommended some folks to follow as well.
Review key influencers in the retirement plan arena and take note of whom they follow. Tools such as Manage Flitter will help you search for detailed lists of tweeters in specific categories. Twitter also offers specialty lists including music, sports, entertainment, funny, fashion and many more. (On the left hand side of your home page, click on “Who To Follow” then browse the various offerings and select individuals that make the most sense for you. You’ll also receive suggestions based on your current list.)
The Principal offers great resources to help you jump into the Twitterverse. They have graciously agreed to share these with the NAPA Net community.
• Build Your Brand with Social Media is a simplified overview of how to get started. I really like this recommendation: “Research and listen. Use social media to prepare for prospect and client meetings. Search LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages to learn about common interests or opportunities before the meeting. Notice what social media platforms your clients and prospects are using and make sure you have a presence there. “
• Getting Started with Twitter takes a step-by-step approach beginning with how to set up your profile, rules of Twitter etiquette, and suggested tweets. (“Some people dream about retirement, others prepare for it. Which one will you be?”)
Here are a few of my own Twitter hints:
• Steer clear of jumping in and chatting right away. Observe the feed first; there’s a lot to learn by watching what others are doing.
• Remember the 92% rule. Social media is 92% giving and 8% getting. Start with sharing links to articles that you enjoy and retweeting posts from your list.
• Start with one or two tweets per week and then move on from there. Don’t start with a flurry and then stop; that doesn’t create a positive brand impression.
• Search for terms using a hashtag (#) such as #401k, #sequestration, #401ksummit or #business. A hashtag creates a searchable term and focuses your view on one particular subject. (Sadly, you can also search for hashtags associated with horrific happenings in the news. I learned about a shooting spree in Oregon this past December through Twitter.)
• Remember that your profile is considered static and may require compliance approval. Your tweets can be archived via an online system such as Smarsh, Erado, Social Ware, or Arkovi. (Here is an article on compliance requirements.)
Finally, if I can answer any questions, direct message (DM) me on Twitter @MissFitts or to firstname.lastname@example.org.