Twitter may not have figured everything out yet, but this morning they reported a better than expected sales number and an increase in the all-important monthly users. Who knows what this means for the long term, but in honor of Twitter’s big morning, I wanted to share why the service is so important to me.
News. First and foremost, Twitter is my go-to source for news. I have a pretty good BS meter and have learned not to believe everything I read, so I am typically able to stay up to date and ahead of most news outlets without falling victim to fake news thanks to my Twitter feed. My wife knows she can ask me about a current event and there’s a good chance I’ll know something about it. I rarely watch the news on TV anymore–it’s filled with negativity, crime and things I’d rather not know about. On Twitter, I can scan the headlines and skip those stories that don’t have a positive impact on my life. Don’t get me wrong, my Twitter feed is filled with the same negativity reported on the local news, but I’m not forced to explore the stories unless I want to.
The only problem with relying on Twitter for my newsfeed is I end up spending too much time scanning my feed–this is something I’m working on with the goal of becoming less connected without sacrificing staying on top of what’s going on.
FinTwit. I’m not sure if “FinTwit” is a real word or not, but it is definitely a real thing. There is a whole subculture of financial professionals on Twitter that is second-to-none; I’m talking about everyone from successful money managers like Cliff Asness to thought leaders in financial planning like Downtown Josh Brown to solo advisors like myself engaging with each other to discuss how to improve the investment world and better serve our clients. You’d think these individuals would view each other as competition, but it’s the opposite. Information flows freely–whitepapers are published, blog posts are shared, conversations are held in bursts of 140 characters and new ideas are shared. It really is amazing to see the amount of information shared on Twitter for FREE. The education I have received over the last couple of years via Twitter would require a student loan if it came from a university.
I’ve tweeted this before, but I would easily pay a monthly subscription to maintain my access to FinTwit. I’m actually participating in an experiment of sorts and am paying to follow an All-Access account of a friend I already follow on his personal account. While I’m probably wasting $10 a month with this subscription, I look at it as supporting someone who has been instrumental in my development as a financial advisor and starting my firm; I also get a chance to interact in a greater capacity than I do via his personal account. I have no idea how the pay-for-content business model is working, but I do know the FinTwit community has been invaluable to me…so much that I’m willing to spend money on it.
Networking. As I mentioned above, FinTwit has become an incredible community. In addition to the knowledge I have gained through Twitter, I have been able to network with some of the brightest individuals in finance. Without Twitter, I would have never met most of these individuals, let along develop friendships with them. As a solo advisor, I lack the ability to walk next door and talk with someone, but thanks to Twitter, I have FinTwit. The FinTwit community is very generous with their time and support, and it has become my sounding board, a place to go to get questions answered, and somewhere I can talk shop with like-minded people.
Not only has Twitter allowed me to network within the FinTwit community, it has also allowed me to meet a number of my heroes in finance. I won’t name drop, but without Twitter, I would have never had the chance to talk with some of the people I have the greatest respect for and look up to. It would have been like having the chance to meet Michael Jordan when I was growing up because of exchanging some short messages…truly amazing experiences.
I’m careful to avoid engaging only with those who share similar views as me; the beauty of Twitter is I am also exposed to people with opposing views and ways of doing things. Interacting with individuals who may challenge me is valuable because it either (a) reaffirms my views as I argue my case, or (b) opens my eyes and allows me to grow as an advisor/person. It’s a win-win.
Thanks to Twitter, I know when I roll up to a conference solo I’ll now know a handful of people attending. It sucks to go to a conference not knowing anyone, and thankfully those days are behind me. Now, I’m not only excited to go to conferences to learn, but also to catch up in person with the people I’ve been connecting with throughout the year on Twitter.
As I wrap up my lovefest with FinTwit and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, allow me to give you one final example of how awesome Twitter, specifically FinTwit is. I was working on a separate blog post last night and ran into a severe case of writer’s block. Frustrated, I took to Twitter to see what other writers do when they just can’t seem to get the right words on the page. Within a matter of minutes, I had a bunch of responses to help me beat my mental block. Some of the responses came from friends, some came from heroes, and some came from people I had never engaged with before. The responses continued throughout the night, and I now have a war chest of ways to beat writer’s block when it occurs. Again, FinTwit has become an amazing community and one of the main reasons I can’t live without Twitter.
You’ll notice finding clients is not one of the reasons I find Twitter so important. For me, Twitter is all about learning, engaging, being challenged and networking. I don’t have any expectations of ever getting a client because of Twitter; there are other social media platforms I consider for client and prospect engagement.
Twitter gets a bad rap because of the ugliness that shows up in people’s feeds, and there are definitely areas of weakness the company needs to improve on. Unfortunately, no matter what they do they cannot keep crappy people from hiding behind their keyboards and smartphones from spewing hate or being crude. As users, we have the ability to control who we follow, who we engage with, and while we cannot control every re-tweet or shared article, we can control our response to the tweets and people who anger/bother/disappoint us. In the end, you have the opportunity to turn Twitter into a useful source of information and interaction with people across the world. This opportunity can be life-changing–it has been for me and my career.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimer page.