It’s likely that a person with your sales experience has figured out face-to-face networking events, but when it comes to digital networking, you may feel a bit lost. Communicating in the digital space is essential to 21st century networking and key to expanding your financial practice. You know your competitors are on Twitter and you can’t shake the notion that you should be too.
Twitter is a great way to share real-time updates on what’s going on in the insurance and financial industry, demonstrate your expertise, make new connections, and increase your prospects. Not to mention, Twitter is great for staying informed by follow financial news and event information from insurance carriers and institutions alike.
Even though Twitter is a powerful marketing tool, it can be quite confusing. Once you learn the basic commands, you will be able to hit the ground running. Let’s start by comparing Twitter to something with which you are already familiar – a real-time networking event. The difference of Twitter is that everyone in the room can hear what you are saying and join in the conversation. Here are the basic commands you need to know to thrive on Twitter:
Your Twitter handle begins with the “@” symbol and it is your name on Twitter. For instance, Highland Capital Brokerage’s Twitter handle is @HCBrokerage. Handles are limited to 15 characters, so choose wisely.
Posts on Twitter are called “tweets.” To compose a tweet click on the feather quill and paper symbol that looks like this: and type your message in the new window that opens. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so be succinct and try to include a link for the reader to learn more.
Generally, 2-5 tweets a day is considered good and over 20 is too much. Find what works best for you and your audience. Also, the most successful tweets typically include a link to more information.
A Twitter handle is key to searching and finding new contacts. In the Twitter search box, type the “@” symbol plus handle to find the desired profile. You can also just start typing the profile name or topic you would like to find. When you find a Twitter profile you would like to follow, select their profile and click the follow button.
Conversing with Hashtags
I’m sure you’ve wondered about the “#”symbol as it has grown in popularity in recent years. It’s on your favorite T.V. channel, it’s discussed on the radio, and your friends and children are using it in conversations. You can’t get away from it! Simply put, hashtags define searchable topics on Twitter.
When someone writes a post on the topic of life insurance and includes a “#Insurance” in the tweet, the hashtag increases the searchability of the tweet by including it with others containing the same tag. It also allows people outside your immediate followers to see and interact with the topic you mentioned. Take a look at the tweet below as an example:
“New! Opportunity to increase your compensation on American Equity business now through July 30th! #Annuity #Insurance http://ow.ly/xZeTz”
Retweeting and Starring
Sometimes you can’t say it better than another person. If you see a tweet that you like by someone else and want to share it, simply click on the circular arrow button that says retweet in each post.
You can also tackle it the old school way by copying the message, then adding “RT:” before you paste. Items you retweet will post to your Twitter page.
If you like a tweet that someone else shared, but retweeting is not the right fit, favorite it by selecting the star button. That user will receive a notification that you read and liked their tweet.
Since Twitter is like talking with a large group where everyone can hear and participate, you may be wondering how to address someone specific. To say something to one person in the group, simply mention their handle in your tweet. For example:
@HCBrokerage I’m looking forward to attending the HighCap Financial Sales Forum this September.
Everyone who is following you and @HCBrokerage will see the message and @HCBrokerage will get a notification of your mention. You can also use the reply function to refer multiple people.
In either case, the reply turns the handle into a clickable link that is then shared with your followers. This is a great way engage and start conversations on Twitter. For example:
If you’ve made it this far, you are hopefully feeling more at ease about Twitter and thus, have the confidence to take advantage of a few advanced tips that will propel you forward.
Minding your Manners
Don’t sacrifice punctuation when tweeting. Yes, you only have 140 characters and each punctuation mark counts. Just like the popular saying, you will have to “make it work.”
You shouldn’t expect someone you follow to follow you back. However, it is generally considered courteous to follow back.
When someone mentions you in a reply, consider replying back or marking their tweet as a favorite. Why? This gesture shows you’re listening and that you want to engage with them. They also did you a favor by sharing your handle with their followers, express your gratitude.
“Please” and “Thank You” go a long way when asking your followers to retweet your message or thanking someone for mentioning you.
Connecting Twitter to LinkedIn
If you’re active on LinkedIn, adding your Twitter profile is essential to building followers on Twitter and expanding your network. To add your Twitter profile to LinkedIn, login to your LinkedIn account and select “privacy & settings” under your username in the upper right corner. Under profile, select manage your Twitter settings, and then add your Twitter account. A separate window will open that will ask you to add your Twitter username and password for authorization. Once authorized, check the box next to “display your Twitter account on your LinkedIn profile” and save. For more detailed instructions, click here.
Did you know that Twitter might replace instant messaging? If you don’t instant message, this still may prove helpful. You can directly message a person by tweeting a “D” in from of their handle and only they will only see it. For example:
D SarahGHenry Can you bring my business review notebook down to the conference room?
Keep in mind, you can’t send instant messages to people who aren’t following you and it may not work on some Twitter apps for mobile devices.
If you’ve found this piece helpful, reply to me on Twitter @SarahGHenry.