Twitter may lack the cachet of LinkedIn among financial advisors, but it can help to strengthen client relationships while building brand awareness.

Twitter lends itself to listening, says Russ Vance, digital director for Toronto-based Wickware Communications ( “It can give you a real feel for what people are talking about in your sphere of interest. You can also gain access to helpful content you might not find elsewhere, that can be turned into newsletters and other client communications.”

Vance suggests you use “hashtags” (# symbol, used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet) to search trending topics and contribute relevant ideas.

Michael Kay (, president of Financial Focus, a financial planning firm in Livingstone, NJ, has been using Twitter for 18 months. He says it broadens his exposure to prospective clients.

“It helps to round out your community and make it accessible in another way. You want to get your message out in as many venues as possible.”

Here are some Dos for prospective Twitter users. (Don’ts will follow tomorrow):

> Do customize your Twitter pages
“To build brand awareness, position yourself as an authority,” says Kay, who writes regular columns for Psychology Today and Forbes. “I use a photo and branding that positions me as a speaker and author.”

Adds Vance: “Start with a professionally designed background image that portrays the values of your personal brand and image. Pick something other than the standard Twitter background and do not repeat your logo 100 times.”

> Do Tweet when you have something to say
“Do it as often as you feel you have something relevant to Tweet about,” Vance says. “There’s no minimum or maximum frequency. Relevant content is key.”

> Do use Twitter to provide a reading service
“Talk about what’s relevant to your community,” says Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications Inc. in Leawood, KS. Swift often Tweets about things she reads, adding a value-added comment.

> Do suggest Tweetups on Twitter
“Tweetups,” (events at which people who Twitter come together to meet in person), can be effective networking tools.

“I’m using a hashtag to arrange a meeting with people at an upcoming conference,” Swift says. “Tweetups are a great way to organize people on the fly and they help you to establish high-level connections.”

> Do use Twitter to interact with other Twitter users.
“Don’t wait for people to follow you,” Vance says. “Be responsive when people retweet or respond to your Tweets. It helps to build rapport and credibility.”

> Do have fun with it
Twitter is a powerful tool that can add real value to existing relationships, Vance says.

“If one of your clients is on Twitter,” he says, “follow them and find out what interests them personally or professionally. It might be related to [your services].”

Active Twitter use is still fairly rare among financial advisors, Vance adds, but it’s slowly growing.

“Many advisors don’t Tweet because of concerns about compliance issues. If you decide to get into it, talk to your compliance department and learn about its policy concerning what, and what not, to Tweet.”

This is the first of two articles about Twitter. Next: The downside of Twitter