Although Twitter has been around since 2006, many financial advisors still haven't completely gotten the hang of it. Despite their best intentions, they misuse it.
To make sure you're getting the most out of your social media efforts, avoid these common mistakes advisors make when using Twitter for business.
1. Not following new people. I need you to forget about getting as many followers as possible for a second. It's important to follow other Twitter users. Not following anyone shows that you don't really use the service or care to engage.
There are some celebrities who can get away with following zero people; but as a financial advisor who wants to be seen as relevant, knowledgeable and caring, you can't ignore this one. If the number of people you're following comes in at the single digit mark, go ahead and start here.
Start following people you know. Take a look at people who are already following you, and start following some of them back. Or, you can start following industry leaders, publications and authorities who are likely to have followers you would be interested in reaching out to.
Another great place to start is WeFollow.com. This is a popular Twitter directory where you can search for people through a range of categories from finance, hedge funds and business, to politics, tech and sports. As a bonus, you can also add yourself to the WeFollow.com directory.
2. Not tweeting. Actuallyuse your account. If your last tweet was from 6 months ago, then people will know you are not an active user, or that you don't care or know how to use the service.
Inactivity can make it difficult for you to keep your current followers as well. There are many services which help Twitter users trim down the number of people they follow. One of the factors these applications look for is frequency of use on Twitter. If your last tweet is from 90 days ago, don't be surprised when people start to unfollow you.
To keep yourself on track, pick a schedule. Whether it's once a day, a couple times a week or even 3 times a day, make sure it's something reasonable and manageable for you. You need to make time to engage with others.
3. Being overly self-promotional. I've heard this analogy made many times before and it never gets old -- and it applies to all social media as well as Twitter: Social media is like a cocktail party. You're not there to yell in everyone's ear about how great you are and how you're a right fit for them. You're there to build valuable relationships, one person at a time.
You're also there to be interesting. And how do you do that? By being interested in others, acknowledging them and sharing interesting things of your own. And yes, you can promote yourself, but make it appropriate for the situation.
Chris Brogan, the CEO of Human Business Works and Owner Magazine, has spoken about his ratio for sharing versus self-promotion on Twitter. For him, it is 12 to 1: "12 them, 1 me". You don't have to adhere to this ratio, but do remember to give more than you ask.
4. Not linking to anything. Have you read anything of interest in the last 24 hours? Share a link to it with a short description of what it is and why it matters. This helps keep your Twitter feed well-stocked with valuable information, and it helps build goodwill and credibility.
Make sure to share links to new posts you've made to your own website as well, without being overly self-promotional, of course.
5. Not branding your account. This one is short and simple. Your branding needs to be consistent. Make sure you brand your Twitter account. Fill out your bio, include a link to your website and have your page reflect your brand's color scheme and logo.
6. Writing tweets that are too long. Twitter is famous for its brevity. What you share cannot be any longer than 140 characters. If you want what you share to be retweeted by others, it is best practice to keep your tweets shorter than the 140 character limit.In fact, Twitter reports that the "ideal length" of a tweet is only 100 characters.
7. Tweeting too much and too often. People expect to see a variety of tweets when they use Twitter. One of the fastest ways to lose followers is to clutter up their feed with your incessant tweets. You're allowed to tweet often, but make sure you space them out evenly.
Other than replies, tweeting once every few minutes is overkill. Author and Twitter guru Guy Kawasaki has an interesting rule with his tweets: He repeats his tweets four times, eight hours apart. Of course, his situation is a bit different than most advisors, with 1.4 million followers all around the world. But even he paces himself.
Once you jump in with Twitter and start incorporating best practices, you'll start to find your own rhythm and what works best for you.
Robert Sofia is the founder of Platinum Advisor Strategies.