Next Tuesday I intend to take a step in a direction that I will hope will be positive for users of AdvisorTweets.com. I plan to offer the site, related domains (AdviserTweets.com and CFPTweets.com) and all assets for sale by auction. Update and clarification: The site will be offered as a private sale. This will enable an interested bidder to submit its best offer once and in private. The sale price will never be disclosed nor will the identities of other bidders.

Some Background

I started AdvisorTweets two years ago in my enthusiasm for finding advisors on Twitter and seeing the value in what many were saying. Included among the millions of Twitter accounts were accounts that belonged to independent U.S.-based financial advisors using Twitter to share perspectives on the economy, investing and personal finance and, increasingly, to network with one another.

AdvisorTweetsEarlyAdoptingAdvisorsImage

From the site in 2009: A look at some of the earliest adopters

The availability of Twitter and other social media self-publishing tools came along just at the right time for these advisors eager to build their personal brands and share what they know in the wake of the market and economic collapse of 2008-2009. But because they were independent, the tweeting advisors lacked any home office or marketing support to amplify their work.

At first, I added each advisor account I found to a list that I was keeping on my desktop (this predated Twitter lists). Then I published the list on my Rock The Boat Marketing site. But I thought that I’d love to have somewhere to go to see and compare what advisors were actually tweeting—and I thought that others might value that, too.

AdvisorTweets.com was built not just as a labor of love but as a proof of concept. The site followed just 70-some advisors using Twitter for business when it launched in September 2009. Other independents followed, and name after name was carefully added to get to today’s database count of 570. The AdvisorTweetsOnDeck Twitter list tracks an additional 126 accounts.

Advisor Visibility Online

At the highest level, AdvisorTweets has been about advisors’ visibility online. Advisors’ tweets have provided a window to the early adopting advisors’ use of Twitter to comment and network—and to also call attention to their other social activities including blog posts, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, LinkedIn discussions, etc.

Today, advisors’ gravitation to social media as a low (hard) cost and high engagement marketing and communications channel seems undeniable, even by the regulators.

Policies and procedures are being developed along with enabling technologies being tested and implemented to comply with FINRA and SEC guidance. I share others’ views that the floodgates may soon fling wide open. Recent news about Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Raymond James’ intentions alone may mean that the hundreds of business-purpose advisor Twitter accounts now tracked by AdvisorTweets could shoot into the thousands.

That is awesome. But I’m not the one to take this any further. This work has been an unmitigated pleasure, a career highlight. However, my involvement is without context—I run a digital marketing strategy consulting firm for asset management firms. I offer no services to financial advisors. Surely some other entity, possibly entrenched in the advisory world, could do a more effective job building and marketing an AdvisorTweets 2.0, which is overdue.

Casting A Wide Net

How would I extract myself? I pondered this a long time, I approached a handful of firms and I’ve finally concluded that an auction is the way to go.

I’ll admit to being a little uneasy about ceding the go-forward decision to the marketplace. The worst conceivable scenario, to me, would be to have to unplug AdvisorTweets.com altogether. My hope is that casting a wide net, such as what’s possible with an auction site, will identify someone or company that finds value in what’s here and can envision a direction that will be even more useful and robust.

Who might AdvisorTweets 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. See HardAssetsInvestor.com for an example of how Van Eck uses a standalone Website to support investors’ interest in hard assets.
  • 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.

I expect the auction to start on Tuesday, June 14, and end on Tuesday, June 21.

If you have questions about AdvisorTweets between now and Tuesday, please send an email to info@advisortweets.com, which comes directly to me. Once the site is listed for auction, no communications can take place outside the auction site.

This isn’t the last you’ll be hearing from me at AdvisorTweets. The Morningstar Investment Conference is being held in Chicago this week (#MIC2011), and I’ll be tweeting (maybe even squeezing out a blog post) from there, courtesy of one of my early Twitter buddies Leslie Banks. I’ll post the link to the auction listing when it’s live. And once AdvisorTweets’ future is known, I’ll be back with the outcome.

It’s with a lump in my throat that I publish this post. My thanks to all of you, financial advisors and others in the ecosystem, for the support you’ve shown AdvisorTweets and for the friendship you’ve extended to me.

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