Today I’ve gone ahead with my plan to list AdvisorTweets.com for sale on Flippa.com. Here’s the link: https://flippa.com/145875-financial-niche-site-with-break-out-potential-pr3-extra-domains

Flippa is the world’s largest marketplace for Websites and I think it’s the right place to cast the broadest net. It is one big tent, however, so if you check it out, please don’t be put off by the lower-quality sites that dominate the listings.

Thanks to some feedback I was given last week, the site will be offered as a private sale—meaning that bidders and bids will not be disclosed. There will be no sequential bidding such as you see on the public sale auctions, and no one but the buyer and seller will know what the site sold for.

In a private sale, bidders are asked to simply submit their best offer. The seller has 72 hours to react. Acceptance of an offer ends the sale. Alternatively, in the absence of an accepted offer, the sale ends when the sale time expires, which will be one week from today.

For more information, please see Flippa’s explanation of the difference between a public auction and a private sale. In essence, I’m using the Flippa infrastructure to surface interest and process bids in lieu of having to develop my own ad hoc process.

And, although some of it is repetitive from last week’s post, what follows is the listing in its entirety:

Financial Niche Site With Break-out Potential, PR3, Extra Domains

This site’s modest traffic and lack of revenue belie its current authority (including #1 position in Google for “social media regulation” and #7 ranked personal finance Twitter account) and the value and potential of the site to serve as a social media magnet for financial advisors and those interested in what financial advisors are thinking, in real-time.

Background

Included among the millions of Twitter accounts are accounts that belong to U.S.-based financial advisors (i.e., SEC and FINRA-regulated registered investment advisers, financial planners and registered representatives) using Twitter to share perspectives on the economy, investing and personal finance. The availability of Twitter and other social media self-publishing tools came along just at the right time for financial advisors eager to build their personal brands and share what they know in the wake of the market and economic collapse of 2008-2009.

Advisors use Twitter to call attention to what they’re thinking and saying on their blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, etc. AdvisorTweets heightens the visibility of advisors using social media. The site offers:

  • Curation—We follow only U.S.-based financial advisors using Twitter for a business purpose. This provides a useful content stream and provides a level of assurance to potential sponsors or advertisers. Each advisor included in the database has his or her own profile page.
  • Aggregation—The AdvisorTweets stream includes tweets from advisors with a range of experience and specialization, representing a variety of firms. The aggregation yields the trending topics and tags that provide a (navigable) snapshot of what’s being discussed and by whom. Listings of the advisors by state enable another way of filtering the tweets.
  • A searchable archive with more than one year’s worth of advisor-only tweets.

AdvisorTweets provides a window into the pace of social media adoption for the thousands of others in the investment business that remain on the sidelines, pending their firms’ development of social media strategies, policies and procedures and enabling technologies. The site is visited by domains representing Wall Street and Main Street money management firms, media seeking to source advisors and other financial services providers.

For more about why the site was created, see this blog post.

Growth potential

The site launched in September 2009 following about 70 advisors and today follows 565 mostly independent advisors. Financial firms’ adoption of social media has been on lockdown, pending regulatory guidance and firms’ establishment of policies and procedures. This is changing. Guidance is in place and firms are moving forward, as suggested by these datapoints:

  • Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the country’s largest wirehouse firm, becomes the first major wealth management firm to announce that its 17,800 broker force will be given access to Twitter and LinkedIn (May 25, 2011). See the AdvisorTweets blog post.
  • The CEO of Raymond James, one of the country’s largest broker-dealer, confirms that its 5,300 financial advisors will be “actively participating” on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites (May 2, 2011). See the AdvisorTweets blog post.
  • Charles Schwab survey reports that advisors consider social media the new frontier (August 2010). See the AdvisorTweets blog post.

Unique value

Advisors with Twitter accounts recognize that their inclusion on AdvisorTweets.com contributes to overall awareness of their online presence, particularly on the state listing pages (which have been under-leveraged). In addition, many are interested in what other advisors have to say but don’t want to explicitly include other advisors among the Twitter accounts they follow. Those who pick and choose advisors from this aggregation to build their own Twitter list still value the AdvisorTweets archive.

The vast majority of investment firms and advisors today do not have Twitter accounts. Many will never have Twitter accounts—even once their Compliance officers approve the activity, some are not interested in initiating their own activity. They are interested, however, in what other advisors are saying. For these “shadow” advisors, AdvisorTweets is an increasingly useful reference site.

There are some sites published by the media and vendors that describe advisors’ social media activities, but no site puts the advisors and what they’re saying front and center.

AdvisorTweets enjoys the support of the financial advisor ecosystem. See the AdvisorTweets Twitter account followers, names of Twitter lists the account is added to and read the comments to the blog posts. My hope is that this sale will identify a buyer that will enhance what’s delivered to the advisors and early users of the site.

Other recognition/acknowledgement includes:

  • @AdvisorTweets’ appearance on more than 150 Twitter lists–most of which are personal finance-related– ranks it as Sulia’s #7 most followed personal finance Twitter account
  • In January 2011, AdvisorTweets is cited in an SEC sweep letter in which the SEC is seeking documentation that identifies adviser’s involvement with or usage of

“social media web sites, including, without limitation: Facebook; b. Twitter, including, without limitation, AdvisorTweets.com; c.LinkedIn; d. LinkedFa e.YouTube f. Flickr g. MySpace h. Digg i. Reddit; RSS and j. Blogs and micro-blogs.” See the AdvisorTweets blog post.

Why am I selling?

It may seem counterintuitive that I am selling the site just as I believe it’s on the brink of break-out growth. But I started the site as a proof of concept. My business is not Web site development and I don’t sell any services to financial advisors. Growth of the AdvisorTweets database will drive added traffic to the site, raise visibility and interaction, I can say with certainty and confidence. But for me it will represent a distraction from Rock The Boat Marketing, my digital marketing strategy consulting business. A buyer should be able to leverage the potential that I have been building toward.

Who might this appeal to?

I can think of four potential buyer types:

  • A media company that seeks to support an online community where advisors are front and center. A publisher might combine AdvisorTweets as a subdomain or subdirectory to its own site as a means of offering a social media awareness opportunity to advertisers.
  • A business or organization that seeks to tap into the industry’s high interest in social media by aligning itself with a social ecosystem that includes not just financial advisors but also financial services service providers.
  • An individual brokerage or planning firm seeking to use the AdvisorTweets domain and publishing platform to promote its own advisors’ tweets.
  • An Internet-focused business seeking to earn off the site with the addition of sponsorships or text and display ads.

How much work is it?

In order to continue to grow, this site will require attention and marketing. Day-to-day publishing to the site is automated, via the Twitter API. Changes to the database are made at the convenience of the site manager. They are straightforward and follow a process that can be explained. Blog posts have been published at least once a week and can significantly drive traffic—more posts would drive more traffic. If the buyer doesn’t have writing resources available, I’m sure that a calendar of freelance and guest posts could be developed. The Twitter account will need to be used. I have limited the tweeting to weekdays and work-hours only, more tweeting could conceivably drive higher awareness.

Site assets

The site’s assets include:

  • A publishing platform and account management admin capability built in PHP with some javascript.
  • All files including html code and source code, a search capability, a searchable archive of more than a year’s worth of tweets and an admin capability for managing followers and report-running. The site is being sold as is.
  • The WordPress blog and all files
  • Three domain names—AdvisorTweets.com and AdviserTweets.com and CFPTweets.com (CFP = certified financial planner). The latter domains today redirect to AdvisorTweets.com.

Social media presence

Twitter account—1,905 followers follow @AdvisorTweets as of June 13

3 public Twitter lists:

  • U.S. advisors—the first 500 followed–unfortunately, Twitter caps lists at 500 so post-500 advisors added to AdvisorTweets can be followed only on AdvisorTweets.com.
  • Investment advisors—RIAs
  • Financial planners—CFPs

Private lists tracking advisors from various firms will enable additional filtering.

• Google Page Rank (PR3)

• Facebook page (lightly used)

Revenue details

No attempt has been made to monetize the site. Here are some possibilities:

  • Selling sponsorships
  • The site’s use of widgets accommodates the introduction of advertising zones for targeting AdSense and banner ads. The state listings, too, might also be targeted.
  • Email newsletter advertising
  • Adding AdSense to the WordPress blog

Traffic details

Traffic is reported in two separate Google Analytics reports—one for the aggregation site and one for the WordPress blog. While the blog receives more visits (attributable to the fact that I tweet about the blog posts), the site has almost twice the page views. This is a site that visitors return to.

The traffic is 100% free and a result of a mix of:

  • Direct (representing the growing awareness of “AdvisorTweets”)
  • Campaigns (representing my use of Twitter to drive traffic to the blog posts)
  • Search
    • 3,820 pages are indexed by Google
    • 19 organic keywords (Semrush.com) drive traffic to the site including the #1 position for social media regulation (see the extended due diligence data for this listing)
    • Referring sites (68 domains link to the site)

As can be seen in the verified Google Analytics documents, traffic in the first 5.5 months of 2011 is a significant improvement over the last six months of 2010. Visits to the site and blog combined are up 164%, views are up 161% and unique visitors are up 164%. My approach to the site hasn’t varied in the last six months. I attribute this growth to heightened interest, which will only build.

But while the general direction is positive and encouraging, the overall level of traffic is modest. Traffic is muted for these reasons:

  • Relative low awareness, attributable to at least 1)It’s been widely assumed that regulations prohibit financial advisor participation 2)There has been no marketing of the site.
  • Social media domains have been blocked by investment-related firms prior to their adoption of enabling policies and procedures. This is changing.
  • My focus has been on a business-to-business use of the site. A new buyer might broaden its value to and use by consumers.

Because my goal was raising social media-using advisor visibility and not monetization, I made no express effort to drive traffic. In fact, I made two deliberate decisions that had the counter effect:

  • Each advisor followed by the AdvisorTweets account (whose tweets were added to the aggregation that appears on AdvisorTweets.com) was also added to a public Twitter list. This enabled people to follow the list without needing to rely exclusively on the site.
  • The AdvisorTweets Twitter account has been used to share content, especially related to financial advisors and social media and to support advisors new to Twitter. Its tweeting of AdvisorTweets.com content has been light, limited to a few times a week at most.

When an offer is accepted

Upon acceptance of the offer, my attorney will send the successful bidder a bill of sale to sign and return within 24 hours. The attorney will then follow up with a request for payment to be deposited in the law firm’s trust account. Payment will need to be made within 48 hours. The property transfer will begin immediately after funds are verified.

Thank you for your interest.

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