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 5 more ways financial-services professionals can make Twitter their own.

       1.     It’s more than words. Twitter is now photo-friendly. If a photo is worth 1,000 words, but each tweet is limited to 140 characters, you’d better be utilizing those visuals. Studies have found that tweets enhanced by media such as photos garner twice the attention as text-only tweets. Try live-tweeting photos from events to further position yourself as an expert (remembering to use the event hashtag and tag all influencers in attendance).

       2.     Utilize Vine. Vine is Twitter’s video platform, which allows you to send 6-second mini-movies. Vine is a really fun way to help your posts “pop” and to tell your story visually. American Family Insurance, for example, uses Vines on the subject of caulking to illustrate money-saving home maintenance tips.

       3.     Optimize your profile. Optimizing your profile is highly important. We urge you to take the time to make your profile stand out from the crowd. The financial services industry can sometimes be dour, so take advantage of Twitter to bring life to your company’s image.

       4.     Join the conversation. Search hashtags or keywords to find conversations you can join. But be careful not to be too “sales-y.” Instead, simply make yourself available to answer questions. That way, you can position yourself as a thought leader.

       5.     Keep it secure. Don’t get hacked. Now that you’ve made Twitter your own, don’t let anyone else take it over. Make sure you have a strong password that includes alpha-numeric combinations. And do not give it out to anyone. Also, if you decide to link to a third-party application, check Twitter’s safe-tweeting resources page to make sure they’re safe.

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.