A practical guide to Twitter | Part III: Using Twitter

You’ve read Part I and Part II of this series, and you know how to decode a Twitter stream. Let’s turn to some tips on how, as an investment industry professional, you can use Twitter to stay up to date.

But first this reminder:

These tips are based on what I understand to be the typical social media policy. The policy at your firm may be more restrictive, so. . .

Make sure that you read your firm’s social media policy carefully. If you have any questions about it (or even if you don’t), ask your supervisor to clarify exactly what is and is not permitted – then follow the guidelines to the letter. It’s not worth losing your job over a social media post.

Start by deciding whether to set up your own Twitter account.

Setting up an account

If you do set up an account, keep it personal. Don’t refer to your company in either your Twitter handle or your profile — not unless you’ve been specifically authorized to tweet for your firm or you’re sure that your company’s social media policy permits it.

Two more don’ts:

  • Don’t tweet about business – again, not unless you’re absolutely that it’s ok with your company.
  • Don’t retweet about business. Under FINRA guidance, a retweet is an “adoption,” meaning that it essentially becomes yours. Put another way, don’t do anything in a retweet that you couldn’t do directly.

Monitoring news with follows

The easiest way to monitor news on Twitter is to follow users that you’re interested in. As we discussed in our last post, tweets from those users will automatically appear on your home page.

Compliance tip #1: Make sure that your company’s social media policy allows you to follow users for business purposes. While FINRA and the SEC haven’t expressed concerns about “follows” – the way they have for Facebook “likes” – your company may prohibit them as another form of adoption. (See “What’s in a “Like”? A story of Facebook woe” for more on why Likes are problematic.)

Compliance tip #2: Don’t follow anyone that looks less than 100% legit. You’ll be protecting yourself from Twitter spam at the same time. And don’t follow anyone who’s making promises about investment returns.

Using lists

If you’re following more than a handful of users, however, the volume of tweets can easily get overwhelming. To make sense of the flow, you’ll want to sort your follows into categories using the Twitter lists feature.

You can create a list that’s either public (visible to all) or private (available just to you) and add any of your follows to it. When you click on the list, you’ll see only the tweets from those users.

Sign into your profile to create a list. To add follows to a list, go to their profiles, click on the button that looks like a silhouette and then go to “Add or remove from lists.”

Monitoring news without a Twitter account

Avoiding a Twitter account – so you don’t have to worry about compliance? You can still keep on top of the news through Twitter.

You’ll need to get past the Twitter home page — which seems to require a log in. Go directly to the @NICSAPres page, and you can search for news from there even as a guest.

Here are two easy ways to find the info you’re interested in:

  • Public lists. You can follow someone else’s public Twitter list. For example, NICSA maintains a public list of investment industry organizations. Go to @NICSAPres, click on Lists, and then select investment-indy-orgs to see tweets from regulators and industry associations. Check out the other NICSA public lists while you’re there. (If you do have a Twitter account, you can subscribe to it.)
  • Hashtag search. If you’re interested in a particular topic, enter a relevant hashtag in the search box at the top to see tweets on that topic.

Hashtag searches are a great way to monitor trends.  As an illustration, for some time I’ve been monitoring the #FATCA hashtag – for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. In the early days, tweets on FATCA were few and far between, coming largely from audit firms helping clients prepare for the new rules. As the far-reaching implications of the Act have become more widely known – and the topic has hit the mainstream media – the number of tweets has skyrocketed while tone has become more passionate.

To get the same kind of feel for trends, you’d need to read a lot of newspapers and magazines. That’s the beauty of Twitter — it makes it easy to watch the big-picture flow of the news.


I hope this 3-part guide has been useful. Let me know what you think.


Prior posts in this series:

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