Homeowners’ disappointment in the declining value of their homes, their dreams deferred by their inability to move, their general sense of feeling poorer—of course, financial advisors are on the receiving end of the impact of the housing depression on their clients’ overall financial picture.
Tweets about national and local housing values, affordability, foreclosures and taxation are a constant on AdvisorTweets. I haven’t mentioned them before for fear of giving in to my own bias. My home has been on the market since January 2010, and my sister the Realtor says I’ve become “too sensitive” about it!
Yesterday’s announcement by the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index that home prices have sunk to 2002 levels gives a fresh news peg to this roundup of May tweets from advisors introducing their followers to housing-related content that goes beyond the standard media coverage. The advisors’ awareness of the content and their annotated sharing of it help differentiate their brands and what they’re focused on for their clients’ benefit.
The first tweet was written by Heidi N. Moore, correspondent for NPR’s Marketplace Radio, and re-tweeted by advisor @behaviorgap. It suggests the difficult discussions that must be taking place as advisors re-set their clients’ expectations of their homes as part of their investment portfolios.
The following tweets are from @researchpuzzler, @ChrisGrandecom, @BeckerAdvisory and @KirkKinder. As a reminder, if you’re looking for tweets on a specific housing-related topic, use the AdvisorTweets’ search engine.
When there’s a loss, it can be helpful to mourn with a community. Advisors took to Twitter to express their sorrow and condolences to CNBC and the Haines family. It’s clear from these representative tweets that Haines was a touchstone in a broad community for these mostly independent advisors to whom Haines was a work buddy. I’ll miss Haines, too.
It’s been an especially prolific week for the social media-using financial advisors whose tweets we follow on AdvisorTweets.com, as judged by the number of blog posts they’ve been promoting via their tweets. Using Twitter to create awareness of a blog or a Website and drive traffic to it is a legitimate tactic that many advisors are quite successful with.
The range of topics and approaches of the 15 blog posts being tweeted about below defy categorization so I’ll get out of the way while these tweets take an encore.
Shown are tweets from @COFeeOnlyCFP, @RickKahler, @Moneyover55, @SetuMazumdar, @ResearchPuzzler, @smjuetten, @ChuckRylant, @ThomasPMarshall, @NathanGehring, @JanetBarrCFS, @TheETFBully, @WallStSteward, @family_finances, @smartinvestorcc and @CaleInTheKeys.
We are slightly more than 24 hours away from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s first press conference–what Business Insider is calling the “super bowl of Fed events.” So, I thought we’d join in the grand tradition of anticipated super bowl coverage by news outlets large and small and provide the following representative round-up of recent financial advisor tweets about Bernanke, QE2 and the Fed.
Consensus? No, sir. It’s not possible to summarize a “financial advisor view.” But that’s the point—through their use of social media, financial advisors’ individual voices and shading on financial news is now directly accessible. Media publications will seek and report on a handful of advisors’ comments; social media gives each advisor a platform.
Check back on AdvisorTweets.com tomorrow afternoon. We don’t want to over-promise as only the most independent of advisors will be tweeting in real-time. But if the interest is anything like the interest in that other super bowl, the tweets could be both insightful and entertaining.
The very best financial advisors are story-tellers—and that includes not just words but pictures, too. Yet another reason to follow financial advisors on Twitter is their consistency in finding and sharing some excellent pictures (i.e., charts, graphs, visualizations, infographics, etc.).
This post celebrates the steady parade of visuals that are called out daily on AdvisorTweets.com and the advisors who find them. Below is a list of 11 on-topic graphic-based tweets shared in the last six months or so. Many more charts are tweeted about but because most of these are infographics, they have more of an evergreen character and are worth your looking at, even a half-year later. The final three haven’t shown up yet in the advisor stream but can we overlook that? There’s something about excellent graphics that you just can’t help but want to share.
Note that most images shown are just images (and in some cases, partial images)—click on them to go to the actual interactive files.
1. Asset returns since QE2 Hints: @researchpuzzler (one of our chart-happiest advisors) first introduced this Thomson Reuters masterpiece in November
2. New York Times’ interactive budget puzzle: If you’re so smart, you build the budget, introduced by @Diahannlassus
3. Low-tech but the advisors liked the message—NB Trades’ death of an investment account balance from opinions, introduced by @feeonlyplanner
4. What is a 401k plan? There’s just no easy way to capture this. It’s an elaborate, illustrated explanation from the fabulous @Mint graphics people, introduced by @rwohlner
5. How bad was the recession and how quickly is the economy recovering? This series of interactive graphs from the Minneapolis Fed was introduced by @_Money_Talk
6. The Center for Capital Markets’ Competitiveness awesome, interactive depiction of the 60 rules to be proposed and implemented as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, introduced by @curtisfinancial
7. Visualizing Economics’ graph of real versus nominal houses prices, introduced by @researchpuzzler
8. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Playing Chicken with the federal debt ceiling, introduced by @BizWeekGraphics whose own investment illustrations prolificness has drained the ink from his Sharpies. Separately, he’s waging a Twitter campaign to urge Sharpie to sponsor his work.
9. WhereDidMyTaxDollarsGo? is an interactive infographic produced as part of a competition that Google sponsored this year to demystify federal taxes and government spending.
10. The Financial Lifecycle: It appears that the idea for this graphic originated with Colorado-based People’s Financial Advisors/Cambridge Financial Advisors (@FinancialHelp4U) as shown in the source line. You can see a version of it here. But UK-based price comparison Website Confused.com is getting lots of Twitter attention for its slightly more graphic interpretation.
11. In my day, I’ve worked on lots of marketing communications aimed at helping advisors help their clients understand the importance of international market exposure. None of them came close to the impact achieved in this video of Hans Rosling.
“A tiny minority of retail investors have begun to look at silver, but it remains largely the preserve of the smart money, a very small amount of hard money advocates in the U.S. and of store of value buyers in Asia.” So read a ZeroHedge post this morning about silver’s all-time record quarterly close.
Interesting…readers of AdvisorTweets.com have been watching several advisors mention the strong performance of silver and its prospects for months. The following is a progression of silver-related tweets since mid-2010. They don’t constitute an investment recommendation. They’re observations and, in some cases, they present links to obscure sites that maybe only the “smart money” knows about.
Retail investors have lots of inputs–the broadcast, print and online media, financial bloggers, their own financial advisors and now, thanks to advisors’ presence on Twitter and other social sites, working investment professionals.
The following tweets are from @jonathanmazur (I just liked the setup this tweet provides) @ButterfldCapAdv @VinceEsposito now tweeting as @Vince3sposito @researchpuzzler @AtlanticCapMgmt @JayPeroni @HenryBecker @behaviorgap and @geckojb.
(A housekeeping note: In the last few blog posts, I’ve been using Storify to show tweets because the format enables you to interact with the content of the tweet. But most of these are just images of historical tweets found through the AdvisorTweets’ search engine, the actual tweet page is long gone from Twitter’s search.)
Theoretical arguments abound regarding financial advisors’ use of social media. Some mornings, though, when I check in on AdvisorTweets.com, I’m struck by the sheer effort being invested by advisors with Twitter accounts. As a client, I want to know that my financial advisor is focused and on top of what’s going on. At the minimum, that’s what advisors’ tweets accomplish. We can see the effort being made.
While the vast majority of tweets link to content that advisors have discovered and want to share, some tweets lead back to content written by advisors. The first day and a half of this week has produced a bounty of original blog posts by @dennistubbergen @behaviorgap @researchpuzzler @WadeSlome @ChuckRylant @smjuetten @nathangehring @oakparkplanner @RickKahler, the tweets to which are shown below. Oh and note that @RickKahler accompanies his post with a video and audio file.
Blogging isn’t easy, even professional bloggers struggle. With the exception of the @behaviorgap post on the New York Times’ Bucks site, the advisors’ posts will reach relatively small “audiences.” (However, the advisors’ use of Twitter to announce the posts will help leverage their effort by expanding their reach.) Not one of these posts will on its own win a client (the emerging acid test of whether social media works for advisors), but all give their readers added insight on how the advisor thinks and what the advisor values. They make for a more informed first encounter and can set expectations.
More to the point, they show the advisor willing to go more than halfway in revealing themselves to their readers. Contrast what you read on the advisors’ blogs with the standard issue advisor Website, which was effectively skewered earlier this month by the IheartWall Street blog post Advisor Websites: Aspirational White People, Ponies & Mountains.
The blog posts tweeted about this week, last week and next reflect meaningful additional effort and, I think, raise the bar for advisor/client communicating.
Best Short Film Or Animation With A Financial Advisor In A Starring, Supporting Role Or Otherwise Implied
Never let it be said that AdvisorTweets was above jumping on a trending topic: In anticipation of the 83rd annual Academy Awards this Sunday (#Oscars), we offer this retrospective of four of the “best” videos we’ve seen advisors tweet about in the last year. In every case, the discerning viewer will note the challenge implied for the financial advisor.
This is not to suggest that these videos all were made in the last year–one’s from 2003! Unlike most tweets and, sadly, most of the content the tweets link to, these new and old videos never grow old. Advisors continue to discover them and want to share. Tweets with links to these have made multiple appearances in the AdvisorTweets stream in the last year, and we will be tickled to see them in future tweets.
Who does the envelope go to? All are winners just to be nominated. In other words, we’re not judging. Please feel free to submit additional videos for the community’s consideration or other reactions below.
We begin our review with a video produced by and starring Ken Robinson, a CFP who to our knowledge is not on Twitter.
“It Won’t Go To Zero”
Global Century Investments Straight Talk About Today’s Markets (Saturday Night Live)
Straight Talk – Stock Market
A Day in the Life of A Financial Advisor (PG)
It stands to reason that financial advisors—forward-looking by nature—would have lots to say about the new year and what 2011 holds. What follows is our largest, most inclusive round-up yet, featuring 2011-focused market and financial planning tweets from advisors featured on AdvisorTweets.com.
Click on each image to go to the advisor-authored Web page mentioned in the tweets by @ChipWorkman, @rwohlner, @AAMLLC, @BobSDavis, @FinancialNSites, @OakParkPlanner, @BerkAdvisory, @DonMartinCFP, @JayPeroni, @JulieMCasserly and @RobertSchmansky.
By the time 2010 draws to a close, the U.S.-based financial advisors using Twitter for business—a total of 475 followed by AdvisorTweets.com—will have sent more than 55,000 tweets. We took another look at most of them to prepare this summary. While we’re swimming in data (and this graphic shows all the data underlying a tweet), our goal was to identify information worth sharing. Here goes.
Advisor adoption of Twitter
Since December 2009, we’ve added 175 advisors to the AdvisorTweets database. Yes, we thought that advisor adoption of Twitter would have taken off at a steeper pace. To be sure, wirehouses and broker-dealers invested some time this year talking about Twitter and social media (and see this article from Wednesday on Morgan Stanley Smith Barney advisors blogging). From our base in Chicago, the home of the Chicago Cubs, we’ll invoke a familiar saying: “Wait ’til next year.”
In the meantime, our understanding of market, investment and personal finance issues has been enriched by following the advisors who can tweet. And we continue to wonder about the competitive advantage they enjoy.
What advisors say on Twitter
All year, we’ve been pointing to examples of what can be learned by “listening” to advisors who exchange information out in the open on Twitter. A single 140-character tweet can have an impact, which Twitter anticipated with its Favorites functionality. We use the AdvisorTweets favorites to track our favorites, by the way, and you are welcome to check them out.
In monitoring the stream or the tag clouds, we sometimes see the appearance of memes—advisors’ tweets are clustering around a certain subject and we comment on them here on the AdvisorTweets blog or in a tweet.
The AdvisorTweets “community”
Activity data can help paint a picture of the entire AdvisorTweets community, as powered by the AdvisorTweets Twitter account. This “community” includes individuals around the country who are in the same general business of providing investment insights. It includes brainiac investment managers and tech-obsessed registered representatives. Individuals may not want to see this full stream in their HootSuite or TweetDeck Twitter app. AdvisorTweets.com aims to provide value by presenting what the group as a whole is up to.
Exactly what value does a full year of aggregated data provide? We offer it simply as a record of the level of advisor activity on Twitter in 2010, through December 15. In the four years since Twitter was launched, people have come to understand that tweeting activity and volume are not synonymous with popularity and quality. We’re not implying that by counting them here.
We should also say that AdvisorTweets is a construct we impose. Advisors on Twitter tend to be following a strategy, and the brand-building and content marketing strategies they’re pursuing in no way considers where they stand in these rankings.
Followers and following
Our #1 most-followed account belongs to @Dilligas66 or Randy Matthews, whose Twitter bio links to a Facebook page identifying Merrill Lynch Private Client as his employer. We don’t know Matthews and have reached out to him. Apparently, he’s relying on Twitterfeed to post to his account and engages in no in-channel commenting that we’ve seen.
We know more about others on the list starting with Chicago-based Sapaula. We’re in earshot of his radio appearances, for example, and hear his promotion of his Twitter account.
Top 5 Most Followed Advisor Twitter Accounts
Handmade tweets—those that aren’t automated and contain links to content that a Twitter user finds and presumably reads prior to tweeting—reflect the most effort on an advisor’s part. And, we’d guess that this strategy delivers the most value for an advisor’s following and for his ability to keep a pulse on what’s happening in real-time and to engage. Such engagement results in yet more tweets.
There’s nothing patently wrong with auto-tweeting for the advisor whose objective is to keep his name in front of his clients with updated information within a prescribed range of topics. It is a bona fide strategy and auto-tweeting requires less effort because the intent is not engagement.
Our list of top tweeters (the advisors who sent the most tweets in the year) includes a mix of auto-tweeters, those who are sending one tweet at a time and those who rely on a blend. These are our power accounts, averaging easily more than 100 tweets a week. Beyond this set, the tweeting drops off steeply—depending on the week, the #10 tweeter on our weekly list sends between 20 and 45 tweets.
Top 5 Advisor Tweet-ers
What’s in the tweets?
In at least one significant way, the AdvisorTweets ecosystem is different than what’s observed of Twitter users in general. As of September 2010, Twitter reported that 25% of tweets contain links. Closer to 80% of the advisors’ tweets are links to content. Indeed, while some interaction takes place regarding what’s said in the tweets sent without links, most of the advisor interaction we see relates to the content being linked to.
The analysis of what’s popular by virtue of its being shared is complicated—and we don’t pretend to offer a formula here. What gets shared multiple times is, we believe, a function of several variables including:
- The reach of the Twitter account that originates the tweet, measured by the size of its following
- The level of its activity
- The quality of the curation the account provides in general
- The spirit of reciprocation underlying all networking—sometimes a re-tweet is a show of support and, in fact, a few advisors participate in blog-packs in which they promise to tweet in support of one another’s blog posts. Including “Please RT” in the tweet is a proven strategy for stimulating re-tweeting.
- The time of day the first tweet flies
All of which is a prelude for explaining the most-tweeted links within the AdvisorTweets ecosystem in 2010 (drumroll):
We have a tie, with the following links being exchanged eight times by advisors:
- On April 12, @401k_Fiduciary was the first to introduce the link to a New York Times Bucks blog post written by Carl Richards, an advisor who tweets under the name of @BehaviorGap. The post headline and subject of Richards’ sketch: “Why Life Insurance Is Not An Investment.” (See our December 2009 post for more about Richards.)
- On October 5, a tweet that @BreakingAway retweeted: “RT @NAPFA: Next NAPFA Consumer Webinar – How to Find a Financial Advisor – 11/5 at 1 pm ET - http://bit.ly/9ExFy9 ”
Do you think eight mentions of the top links of the year is a low number? In order to be passed on by eight advisors, consider the odds that the top tweets overcame:
- Only 6% of tweets in general get a retweet, according to Sysomos.
- 93% of retweets happen in the first hour—these links were probably exchanged over a longer period.
Whose tweets get the most attention?
Of the almost 43,000 links forwarded by advisors in 2010, less than one-half of 1 percent were mentioned twice. That led us to wonder: Who starts the tweet that attracts the most interest, as measured by repeated tweets of the link?
This touches on the tricky topic of influence. In general, we’re not convinced that influence can be adequately measured by today’s existing tools such as Klout scores. And, we’re certain that Klout scores that aim to represent online engagement in general have little value in understanding the influence of advisors among advisors who tweet.
Here are the top five advisors who originate tweets with links that get forwarded multiple times. @Nathangehring originated two tweets that were forwarded seven times.
5 Advisors Who Originate Tweets With Links That Get Forwarded The Most
The advisors on this list have been quite open about what they do on Twitter and what it does for them. See Wohlner’s “Financial Advisors On Twitter” post and, from earlier this month his “Vanguard And the Power of Twitter, which we also wrote about on our Rock The Boat Marketing blog. Also, see our coverage of Cathy Curtis and Curtis Smith comments in a WiredAdvisor Webcast.
What are the advisors’ content sources?
Finally, as the most raw source of what’s interesting to and influencing tweeting advisors, let’s look at the source of the links that the advisors are exchanging. Here’s a list of the 10 most frequently cited sites in the full list of 43,000 links.
10 Most Cited Sites By Tweeting Advisors In 2010
- WSJ.com including blogs
- Yahoo.com including Yahoo! Finance
- Google News
- NYTimes.com including blogs
We thank the advisors for letting us tag along as they experiment with this communications channel and we look forward to what the new year brings. This exercise, by the way, has served to sharpen questions we hope to extract from 2011 data. What questions would you have? Please comment below.