To financial advisor Jamie Cox, Twitter’s (@jamesacoxiii) success is all in its targeting. Take his 14,795 followers — the bulk of which he gathered in the first two years on the social channel. Many hail from telephone, utilities and tobacco employees at Fortune 500 companies, the core of his client base. As the managing partner of the Richmond, Va.-based Harris Financial Group, Cox sees Twitter as a marketing paradise — and one he believes that independent reps should be harnessing as soon as they can get a Twitter handle.

“With Twitter as a search engine, I'm trying to figure out what information is being talked about. A lot of the work forces I work with are unionized. and the unions publish information that is critical to me: work force reduction, contract negotiations, information that helps me shape the areas where I focus. Twitter helps me put all that information in one place. With unions in seven or eight states, I can do all this searching and then see how negotiations in one state may impact clients in another state.

And then I also search simple terms like financial planner or financial advisor or mutual fund and if anyone is talking about these topics, I will try to engage with them. If the tweet is, "I'm not real happy with the advice I'm getting,"  I go out there and say, "I'm a financial planner and what questions do you have?" I just make myself available to them and you'd be surprised how many people will communicate with you in that way.

I think if wealth management firms understood how this information can be used to drive more efficient and better decision making, I think they would benefit greatly. The people who ignore the information coming from these social networks, they're going to be taken by surprise. They're not going to be able to compete in the future. Even the CRM tools like Salesforce and others are putting into their internal workings the facilities to collect this information and follow it. There's no question social media is going to affect them. The question is how fast.”