If your marketing plan does not now include paying attention to the Twittersphere, you better start now. It's as important to the future of your business as the telephone.

In fact, more so. Back in February 2009, the Nielsen research company put the switch in context: Teenagers on average sent 2,272 text messages a month. They made 203 phone calls.

If you're trying to sell funds to a new generation of would-be investors, talk in the language they use.

Short, to-the-point messages that keep them engaged, day after day. Through the ups and downs of markets, the changes in economic conditions, taxes, rules, life events, etc.

At the 29th Annual Conference & Expo of the National Investment Company Service Association in Miami on Feb. 16, repeat Internet entrepreneur Scott Klososky put this in perspective with a look at a company that built its multibillion-dollar business on selling computers through computers.

More than a decade ago, Dell shifted its emphasis from its original reliance on phone banks to Web sales. Put everything possible about its products onto its own servers, beamed the details out to users over the Internet, took their responses and accepted their checks. In digital form, of course.

Dell is now "taking a third of their website to try to promote Twitter," he said. "Because they're saying, 'Wow, given a choice I'd rather have millions and millions of people following me on Twitter,'" having a conversation with me every day, rather than once every couple years when they want to buy a new computer.

Dell hasn't quite yet put Twitter's little bird icon up on its home page yet. But that's probably not far off. In mutual funds, Vanguard last July began using Twitter to communicate with investors, other industry participants and the media.

So far, it has only 2,716 followers. But it's a start. And where else are you going to get to see exactly what's on your customer's mind, just by listening in whenever you have a minute? And respond? And, maybe even win wallet share with the generation of customers born in this century.

From Wednesday, a real post:

My 6 yo is usually a good saver but wants 2 blow allowance on #JustinBieber stuff. How 2 convince her it is poor short-term investmnt? ^RK about 3 hours ago via HootSuite.

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