November 19, 2009

Some Thoughts on Using Twitter: My Experiences So Far

Here are some thoughts about Twitter that I posted a while back on “The Mentor Blog“:

Recently, I blogged about how you need to learn about Twitter since more and more executives are using it and you need to be able to recognize the corporate & securities law issues that arise, just like any other medium. I also noted that I’ve been regularly Tweeting since the beginning of the year.

With 10-months-plus experience under my belt, I can honestly say that – at this point – there probably isn’t much marketing value for lawyers to be on Twitter. If you blog, tweeting about your blog entries can help promote your blog and I think is a “must.” But most lawyers aren’t blogging – and until they do, I wouldn’t bother being a “regular” on Twitter right now. Following the blogs that cover your industry and interests is more educational and worth your time.

For me, one of my job descriptions is “journalist” so following others with like-minded interests helps me identify story ideas for the numerous blogs on our sites – so there is some value in Twitter for me. But so far, there are few folks with like-minded corporate law & corporate governance interests on Twitter (eg. think there are only two of us with M&A law background) so the marketing value of Twitter is pretty limited for you. And too many of the folks that I “follow” on Twitter continue to tweet about their personal lives and thus clog up my Tweetdeck with all sorts of useless drivel. Sorry, I really don’t care that your cat is sick.

If critical mass is reached and the marketing value proposition of Twitter for those of us in corporate compliance becomes real, I’ll let you know. Until then, Twitter’s value is limited to informational and not much in the way of marketing…

By the way, you may want to read Bruce Carton’s recent blog about whether the number of followers you have on Twitter may impact a client’s hiring decision. I gave my ten cents on the topic in a comment to the blog.

Obtaining followers is pretty easy now since folks have learned some tricks of the trade to quickly score hordes by using scantily clad women. According to the Avvo Blog, this is exactly what some have done recently (although there may have been “hijacking” involved per this article)…and another thing about Twitter, it can get snarky, as noted in this blog.

What About Twitter for Investor Relations?

In comparison to my thoughts about Twitter for marketing purposes, we have these somewhat different thoughts about Twitter for IROs from the Q4 Blog. Here is an excerpt from that blog:

Social networks are having a dramatic impact in helping marketers and public relations professionals increase brand awareness and build new relationships with consumers. But how have these tools been adopted in the highly regulated world of investor relations?

To answer this question Q4 analyzed 80 public companies and their use of Twitter during the Q2 2009 earnings season (a new report analyzing the 3rd quarter was just released – 270 more companies are now using Twitter). Some of the findings of the report which were issued in a press release revealed that:

– 55% are using Twitter for investor relations.
– 48% are using Twitter to engage with their audience.
– 34% of the companies were from the technology sector, including Cisco, Dell, Oracle and Sun to name a few.
– 68% provided a link to their Q2 quarterly earnings release.

Bear in mind that the stats above are culled from those companies using Twitter – based on the list of companies in Q4’s report, it looks like that number is relatively small right now, about 80. The list of companies is useful for those that want to monitor what others are doing now, since Twitter may well be here to stay. Personally, I worry about companies using Twitter to get their message out because the 140 character limit can impede placing words in context. More about this later…

Full-Time IR Website Manager: No Longer a Luxury

One of the more innovative – and capable – IR departments experienced a snafu last quarter when its earnings results was accidentally posted prematurely. Dominic Jones does a great job in his IR Web Report providing three lessons that this episode delivers.

– Broc Romanek