With over 241 million active monthly Twitter users, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To help you get the most out of your Twitter feed, we’ve put together this list of 4 ways financial-services professionals can make Twitter their own.

      1.    Discover what’s going on. There are tools to help you find out what’s relevant to the industry. You can perform an advanced search to find people who are nearby or people using specific terms in their tweets. Twitter also has an advanced algorithm which tailors tweets to your interests (located under the “discover” tab).

      2.    Follow industry influencers, PR leaders, stocks, etc. To build a great feed, think about who and what is important in your industry. Do you want to read breaking news? Be inspired by leaders? Gain knowledge? Get press? Track stocks? You can do all that and more. Start here:

  • Browse the suggested user lists. We advise that you follow your competitors, peers and clients. Learn what is important to your clients.
  • Find out who your competitors and clients follow.
  • Explore what’s trending now (especially within your local area).
  • Don’t feel obligated to follow someone just because he follows you.
  • Follow stocks via StockTwits. Instead of using a hashtag, use the dollar sign to track the latest news on a stock (ex., $AAPL).

      3.    Tweet in “the now.” Twitter is real-time communication. Whether you’re hosting a meet-and-greet or getting inspired at an event, Twitter lets you share those moments with the world. If you’re doing a radio show or being featured in the news, share some behind-the-scenes info (some commentary or a quick photo) to intrigue your audience. Remember, you can tweet from anywhere with the Twitter app on your smartphone or tablet.

      4.    Use keywords. Keywords are important on your website—and in all your general accounts. Keywords push traffic toward your particular services and website. For example, when someone uses the advanced-search feature to search for “wealth manager,” you want to make sure you appear on that list. Use a hashtag (#) in front of your keywords to open yourself up to a larger conversation and new potential prospects.

In today’s market, Twitter has tremendous power. (Remember last year’s hacking of the Associated Press’s Twitter feed? When the hackers falsely tweeted that the White House had been bombed, the stock market gyrated wildly.) And you can make that power work for you by following these guidelines.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.