How to Use Twitter to Reach Other Online Investors

Online investors may not know a lot of other investors. One way to interact with other investors is to use social networking sites, like Twitter. Ways you might use Twitter as an online investor include the following:

  • Following the news: All the major investing news organizations maintain Twitter feeds. USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and others routinely send out tweets immediately when they have a hot story.

  • Keeping up with the regulators: When regulators find new scams or scandals, they often send out tweets immediately. The Securities and Exchange Commission routinely sends out tweets with alerts and breaking news.

  • Monitoring developments at online brokers: Most online brokerage firms maintain Twitter feeds, and they’re a great source for news about the company.

  • Tracking trends as they’re happening: Some Wall Street traders and investment experts maintain Twitter feeds and make information available during the day. It’s a great way to see what’s on the minds of other investors as the day unfolds.

Before you can use Twitter, you first need to understand how to get access to the system. It’s really just a few basic steps:

  1. Go to the Twitter site and sign up for Twitter by registering your e-mail address and choosing a Twitter name.

    Your Twitter name is like your handle. It’s always preceded by an ampersand. In other words, if your Twitter handle is TheBestInvestor, on Twitter you’re @TheBestInvestor. It’s like your e-mail address on Twitter.

    It’s free to sign up.

  2. Click the Find People link at the top of Twitter.com to find someone you want to follow.

    Clicking the Find People link lets you search for users, but if you already know the Twitter handle of a user, just enter www.twitter.com/handle into the address bar of your browser of choice. So to find me, for example, you’d type in www.twitter.com/mattkrantz.

  3. Scan the Twitter feed and see whether you want to follow.

    You can see on the page what kinds of things the person is tweeting about. If you want to get alerted whenever new tweets from that person are posted, click the +Follow button.

  4. Monitor your timeline.

    When you log on to Twitter.com from now on, the first page you’ll see is your timeline, or list of all the tweets being sent out by the people you are following. This is your source of what’s happening with people you’re interested in.

Because Twitter wasn’t really designed for investors, it takes a little bit of effort for online investors to find useful information. The key to Twitter is finding people and news outlets that regularly tweet information you’re interested in. You have several ways to do this:

  • Using Twitter.com’s search feature: You can see a Find People link at the top of Twitter.com. Click that link and you can search for people by their name or organization. This is a great place to start, especially if you’re interested in a certain investing source.

  • Utilizing Twitter directory services: Some Web sites try to corral Twitter into a more organized place by grouping people who tweet into topic areas or based on the publication they work for.

  • Understanding hashtags: Some tweets can easily get lost in the shuffle. To help tweets stand out, some include what are called hashtags, or keywords following a number sign. For instance, you might include #stocks or #investing in a tweet you send out. You can search for all tweets that have been tagged by typing #stocks or #investing into the search function at Twitter or by using the Twitter clients.

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