On the day that I write this it’s the tenth anniversary of the launch of Twitter – well when I say launch, I mean the very first tweet which was issued by its founder, Jack Dorsey, and was the less than ground-breaking, ‘just setting up my twttr’. Not exactly up there with, “It’s one small step for man….” but I suppose we all have to start somewhere.
In case you were wondering, Stonebridge Group (@Stonebridge_Grp) finally bit the Twitter bullet back in 2013 and, in the pursuit of fairness, our first tweet was, ‘Richard Adams joins the Mortgage Solutions panel to discuss Ombudsman complaints…’ There’s nothing like blowing your own trumpet I suppose and, let’s be fair, if you can’t use your own Twitter account for a bit of self-promotion then it’s a sad state of affairs.
I think in the great scheme of things, Jack Dorsey’s and our own first tweet are pretty ordinary and hardly likely to ‘break the internet’ as so many tweets and photos have gone on to. However, what we didn’t know with Dorsey’s tweet is just what would happen after it had been issued and in the last 10 years the incredible growth in the platform’s use and the culture-defining position it would assume. It would be no understatement to say that Twitter has reshaped much of what we digest as news, how we communicate and what we take on board full stop, whether that be from a personal or business point of view.
I’ll freely admit that back in the day I was not the most enthusiastic endorser of utilising social media for our business and, at times, struggled to see just what it could achieve. I think I was of the opinion that it was more for ‘teenagers’ than ‘proper business people’ and am happy to say I’ve pretty much been proved wrong on this one.
The level of engagement it allows us with, for example, our advisers, providers, staff, journalists – effectively most of the stakeholders we want to be in front of – is rather special, and I can think of no other outlet for our news and views which reaches such a broad spectrum. Which of course is not to say that we put all our eggs in the Twitter basket, but it is certainly an important part of our marketing mix alongside other social media, public relations, advertising and the like. All have their place and I would urge other firms active in this (or any other) market to make sure they have a good spread across all of these.
What Twitter does give you though is breadth, reach and an immediacy that you simple don’t get elsewhere. We should never forget that this is ‘social’ media with the emphasis on interaction and conversing with others – Twitter certainly provides that opportunity to reach out and speak to those who you may not have had any previous relationship with. There is no need for an introduction or an exchange of business cards to get the ball rolling, instead it’s a simple conversation starter of 140 characters or less. And from these small acorns, great trees can grow.
The 140 character point is also one which sets Twitter apart. This requirement to be brief and to the point can sometimes seem like a hindrance but, in a world in which we tend to take our information in bite-sized chunks it can focus the mind and allow you to drill down to the heart of any message rather than the waffle around it that often really isn’t important.
For mortgage and protection advisers we have certainly seen a number of our AR firms fully utilising the power of social media and, by doing this, improving their messaging, their communication with new and potential clients, and from this putting themselves in a shop window that previously they had excluded themselves from. Of course there are a number of common sense do’s and don’ts but, once you get your head around these, there are plenty of benefits that can be delivered. My advice therefore to those who have yet to tweet is to take the leap and effectively follow Dorsey’s lead – let’s see a lot more mortgage advisers ‘just setting up [their] twttr’.
Richard Adams is managing director of Stonebridge Group
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