Q&A from SageCircle’s “Introduction to Twitter for AR” webinar – Firm handles, retweet, protocols and more

icon-social-media-blue.jpgAt the four sessions of the “Introduction to Twitter for AR” webinar held in August, there were some interesting questions that came up. Here are answers to some of the questions.

Shameless Marketing – If you missed the webinar, you can schedule a SageCircle “AR Briefing” on Twitter for you and your colleagues. Click here for a brochure or contact us at 650-274-8309 for more information.

Q: What about firms that follow you? Do you recommend letting them follow you? (e.g., Gartner)

A: Firm handles (e.g., @forrester, @Gartner_inc and @the451group) are typically used to promote the firm. For example, @the451group is used to announce research note publications and @Gartner_inc is used by the Gartner PR team as a press release wire. @forrester is often used at Forrester events to facilitate info to attendees and accept questions during sessions. There is little or no downside to letting them follow you. On the other hand, you should carefully consider whether you should follow them. Because they are marketing tools, they could add clutter to your timeline without necessarily giving you useful information.

Q: Why retweet? To pass along a tweet to others?

A: Retweets are used for a couple of purposes. One is to give your reply some context by including the original tweet. You will likely have to edit down the original tweet so as to not use up too many of your 140 characters because retweet text counts against the total. The second purpose is to simply pass along to your followers a tweet you think they would find interesting. Often these are announcements or news related tweets.

Q: Can you use RSS feeds to follow tweets?

A: Yes – Bloglines and other RSS readers will follow tweets. Click “How to track a lot of analyst blogs and Twitter streams without spending a lot of time” for step-by-step instructions for setting up Bloglines to track analyst tweets and blogs.

Q: What is the proper interaction protocol for analysts that you either are, or are not already working with in regards to Twitter or other social networking sites?

A: Simply follow them. There is no need to ask their permission or even interact with them via Twitter. Some analysts have lots of followers who are only spectators. However, if there is an analyst that you have decided to add your analyst list with a relevance ranking high enough for Tier 1 or Tier 2 status, Twitter can be a great way to make an initial introduction and start building a relationship.

Q: AR Strategy: Is it viable to ask analysts to start Twittering with you – even if your key influencers aren’t already Twittering?

A: Absolutely. The worst that can happen is they say they are not interested in Twitter. On the other hand, some analysts might have been thinking about getting on Twitter and your invitation might encourage them to try it out.

Q: Branding: It would be good if you can give some tips on branding your Twitter – particularly for large vendors. Does having your company’s branding – kill the impact of your Twitter?

A: This is a very important issue to consider: how much of your Twitter identify is yours personally versus associated with your employer. Some companies require a very explicit association of the company with the Twitter handle (e.g., @mattatdell for a Dell employee), but this is rare. In general, you want to put your employer in your Twitter profile bio (e.g., “Bob is in analyst relations at Acme Systems”) so that you are easy to find in a search. However, you want the handle to be yours so if you change jobs you don’t lose the followership and history built up around your handle. We think it is important that all people starting building a “personal brand,” that follows you through your career.

Q: You’re talking about providing information – can you conduct campaigns? Do you view it purely as a one-to-one communication tool?

A: Generally Twitter is a “broadcast” and not a private communication, so yes you can consider it a tool for campaigns, hot news and events. However, today Twitter is mostly used for 1-on-1 or small group interactions. How Twitter is used will no doubt evolve significantly over the next year or two, which is part of the fun of being an early adopter of an emerging technology.

Q: AR Strategy – how would you view ‘incentivising’ Twittering amongst a closed/regional community?

A: We think that is a great idea. The best incentive you can offer an analyst is more personalized access to information. For example, an AR pro could set up a twitter handle for their analyst event [e.g., AcmeSystemsAnalyst2008] with updates “protected.” Only invited analysts would be permitted to follow this handle and they would get exclusive updates, color commentary on executive presentations, and the ability to submit questions for executives.

Q: Of the analysts using it, do you find there are higher concentrations of analysts from certain coverage areas?

A: Obviously analysts who cover social media are visible users, but Twitter is not the exclusive domain of social media analysts nor are they always the heaviest users. In the SageCircle Analyst Twitter Directory there are all sorts of analysts either by career stage (e.g., Novice, Luminary, Sage), type (e.g., advisory, market research) and coverage (e.g., servers, operating systems, outsourcing, PCs, enterprise systems). It gets down to whether or not as an individual the analyst likes new ways of communicating.

Q: Does the star indicate a favorite person to follow or just that specific tweet?

A: Just that specific tweet – so you can go back and find it again.

SageCircle Technique:

Bottom Line: Social media like Twitter can be powerful interaction tools when incorporated into your overall mix of interactions. At some point, Twitter might be considered an everyday tool, so get ahead of the curve and be an early adopter in order to reap the benefits associated with being an innovator

Question: If you are not tweeting yet, why not? What are the hurdles that make you reluctant to experiment with Twitter?

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve found Twitter to be quite useful for connecting, both personally and professionally, with AR folks. And while I seldom if ever read email newsletters, AR reps posting cool links tend to get quite rapid attention.

  2. Twitter is yet another forum to discuss and kick around market issues. *People* who engage thoughtfully in that conversation are welcome regardless of who their position. I’ve seen interesting comments and pointers from AR people and complete digital narcissism from an exec who I know to be a very smart fellow. Like any interaction a good analyst will apply a filter. That said, give me a good reason to follow you, so make sure your feed serves up more than “having dinner, walking cat, Trying out twitter!

    I’d also like to turn the question around: What does AR want to see analysts tweet on?

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