Didn’t we have enough of this last year? If there’s a silver lining to another winter’s worth of wild weather, it’s that it might be taking our minds off the market’s current squalls. That’s good, because studies have shown that our brains react to scary financial news as if our very lives are at stake, which is usually an ill-advised overreaction.
Fortunately, I’ve got some advice on how to remain informed during market ups and downs, without experiencing emotional overdose. With Twitter, you can set up the equivalent of your own private newsfeed, featuring voices of rational reason to guide your way.
What is Twitter?
According to PC Magazine, Twitter is “a very popular message broadcasting system that lets anyone send alphanumeric text messages up to 140 characters in length to a list of followers.”
Twitter describes its service in more visionary terms, as “your window to the world,” and a way to “get real-time updates about what matters to you.” More on that in a moment.
If you’re not yet using Twitter, I know what you’re thinking: Your life is complicated enough; who needs another silly social media venue?
I felt that way myself when I first heard of it. But as Helen Keller has said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” So I challenged myself to give it a go. In May 2009, I set up my handle, @sage_cupo, and made my first, daring Tweet. Since then, I’ve shared more than 10,000 Tweets, and counting.
Mind you, I’m pretty busy and an introvert by inclination; at the end of the day, I’d rather be reading. So I wouldn’t be Tweeting like a songbird if I couldn’t justify the time spent. True to its word, I find that Twitter has allowed me to filter out the mindless media and focus on thoughtful voices I admire. It’s also been a good way to share my own and others’ best insights onward – the ones that I believe really matter to people’s personal or financial well-being.
Bottom line, being able to filter what I see and share into a 140-character essence has been a big time-saver, leaving me more time to read what I do care about in more depth. Sweet.
How does it work?
Your Twitter adventures begin once you set up an account and give yourself a “handle,” or a nickname that is uniquely yours.
After that, you can search for names of interest and click on “Follow.” (Might I suggest you begin with @sage_cupo?) Once you’re following someone, their Tweets appear on your personal Twitter newsfeed. If someone decides to follow you back, any Tweets you post will appear on their feed.
Finding someone’s Tweets annoying? No problem. You can “unfollow” them anytime (Don’t worry; they’re not notified about it.) Is someone following you and you’d rather they didn’t? Again, not to worry. You can block them from viewing you or your Tweets.
By the way, do NOT feel as if you have to dive into the deep end with Twitter. As a professional advisor, I follow a lot of other respected subject matter experts and regularly Tweet their “best of” materials. As an individual, you can leverage my own and others’ efforts by following a few of us … and be done with it. You can Tweet things of your own or share our Tweets onward, but you certainly don’t have to. You can make good use of the forum as simply a helpful newsfeed for yourself.
Okay, okay, I’ll give it a try. What’s next?
Depending on your comfort level with social media and technology in general, there are a number of ways to learn how to get going with Twitter. Of course Twitter offers its own support center. This may be the best place to begin. If you’d like a more in-depth, Twitter tour, you might consider purchasing a subscription to Lynda.com, an online self-help training resource on all things technology and beyond.
Your First Follows
Once you’re on board with Twitter, you may want to follow a few other good sources for financial insights as well. Crash course: People use handles that begin with “@,” such as @sage_cupo. You also can search on or use “hash tag” terms to find or share Tweets on the same subject … such as #EvidenceInvesting. Hopefully you will find Twitter to be a useful tool…and fun to use!
Sage Serendipity: Following a live (TV) event on Twitter can be a lot of fun (and funny). Here are a few coming up: the Presidential Debates (the next is a Democratic primary debate Thursday Feb. 11), the Grammy’s on Feb. 15, and the Academy Awards on Feb. 28.
Slate.com has a great format and can be a good source for finding people you might like to follow. Here is a sample from last year’s Oscar night and from the left and right in previous Democratic Debates.