So you’re wondering about where to start applying Twitter in your business. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone had made it simple.

“I always tell folks to start off real easy,” he said. “You don’t have to tweet. Type in the name of product and company and you’ll see what people are saying about you right now. That’s a really valuable way to find out what [consumers] value. We’re signing up 400,000 [new accounts] every day and that’s only going to increase.”

Stone spoke at the Charles Schwab & Co. IMPACT 2010 conference in Boston Thursday in a session chat moderated by CNBC TV journalist Tyler Mathisen. Also in the chat was Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and media futurist Gerd Leonhard. [See related story]

Both Hughes and Stone talked generally about establishing relationships with their clients via their respective platforms, but were short on hard specifics about how social media helps RIAs build their businesses.

For his part, Hughes advised the audience of registered investment advisers (RIAs) to friend their clients on Facebook to “humanize” the customer experience and build “substantive connections.”

Mathisen said one of the two most private topics is money (he noted the other topic is sex lives). As such, how could Stone and Hughes expect social media to enhance positive relationships between RIAs and their clients.

Hughes countered that finance is a mainstay social media topic. “People constantly engage with financial news and topics...but not every topic has to be talked about in public.”

Stone said the first investor in Twitter, Fred Wilson, was found his tweets and his blog. “We really liked this guy and his authentic voice [a la] his tweets and posts.”

Stone held up JetBlue as a great example of a company that has profited from using Twitter. Its first attempt of tweeting press releases in 140 characters or less “fell flat” and morphed into more rewarding customer service and marketing.

Stone said he once got a tweet from jetBlue that read: “I see you’re on a JetBlue flight. We have tasty smoked almonds. Try some.”

When Hughes claimed people rarely use Facebook as place to vent, his remark drew characteristically irreverent response from Stone.

“That’s B---S---, Chris. People say terrible things [on Facebook and Twitter]. I’d rather have people say they love or hate you than say nothing,” he said. “Every interaction is a marketing event and we can talk to you and make it right.”

Besides venting, the pair minimized addressed positive reviews that some suspect are planted on sites like Trip Advisor.

“If you have 150 reviews, they can’t all be lies,” said Hughes. Both he and Stone agreed that social media platforms are self-policed and that fakers get “sifted out quickly.”

In the end, the pair agreed more than disagreed. After all, they are pushing the same thing - social media.  And they concurred that there is no textbook way to use social media platforms.

“Some live their lives totally closed. I am not one of them,” says Hughes. “It depends on who the individual is...knowing when to share and not to share.”

Asked what they use for social medium outside of Facebook and Twitter, Stone responded Yelp for its product and services reviews; Hughes said LinkedIn where Facebook can find new talent; and Leonhard a site called “Serendipity” for “discovering stuff by accident.”

Finally, Stone was asked where he see Twitter in 5-10 years. He sidestepped the question a bit, but nonetheless offered an interesting response.

“Everything is going to get more social. [Twitter] is a triumph of humanity and people, not technology. Technology is just a tool.”

To learn more about the business aspects of Twitter, go to For facebook, go to


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