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Analyst Relations Using Twitter

Carter Lusher, who’s turned into quite the “AR 2.0” sort, sent out an email asking what us Twittering analysts would want to see from analyst relations folks in Twitter, following up on a recent post.

Here’s what I wrote back (with some slight tweaks):

Another Way to be Friendly

I’d expect individual to sign up and just be “normal” with Twitter. Usually, I’d actually just like to get to know someone personally through things like Twitter in the same way I get to them over drinks, food, chatting, or other non-controlled analyst encounters. The point here is that I find that I work best and enjoying working with AR people who I’m “friendly” (warm and effective) with rather than “professional” (cold but effective) with.

Part of this “normal” business would be answering or adding to questions that I and others (not just analysts!) wrote in Twitter. That kind of interaction is always handy as I and others tend to broadcast out broad questions; getting answers in that medium is always great.

Crossing Over Into Real-life

As a sort of shocking – at the time, I’m used to it now – example, last year at the Adobe Analyst summit I was Twittering some questions in real time about Adobe stuff (LiveCycle, I think), and a few minutes later an execute walked up to me and started answering my question as if I’d just asked it to his face. Which, you know, is what I was doing by broadcasting it in Twitter. After the initial, “oh, hai!” jarringness, it was actually quite awesome.

Adobe’s been the first and primary company that I’ve noticed using Twitter really well, not just with analyst, but people in general. To name other big companies, Sun, IBM, and Microsoft people Twitter as well. Of course, I don’t think there’s any Adobe AR people in Twitter.

Expanding the use of Twitter

That might raise a good point: really, getting company employees to use Twitter as Adobe (and others) employees do would be of great help. Don’t get me wrong: there are lots of AR/PR people I know that I’d love to be able to interact with Twitter as intimately as I do in IM and in person. But I’d want one of AR’s “missions” with Twitter to be getting other employees involved in it as well in the same way that AR (and PR) tries to get employees to interact with the outside world to the benefit of the company.

Twitter’s barrier to entry and time commitment is much lower than blogging, while the rewards are essentially the same. Twitter is cheaper than blogging, but just as a good, really.

Corporate Twitter Accounts

Also I’d expect a sort of “AR for Acme” Twitter account rather a person based account for getting out general news. From that account, I’d want to see links to relevant press releases, headlines, etc. You know: like Twitter accounts for ZDNet, Google News, CNet, Techmeme, and other “re-post” accounts. Those kinds of things are actually more handy for me now-a-days than RSS feeds which I’m up to my eyeballs in.

Part of this would be accepting questions through use of the @ convention at Twitter. For example, it’d be great if people could write something like “@AppleAR why don’t you ever talk to us? Do you exist?”

Avoid Obligatory Use

Most important, the main thing I would not want to see is AR people forcing the use of Twitter. I’d rather see nothing than them being cheesy with it or knowing that their boss(es) were brow-beating them into doing “2.0” stuff when they could care less or felt it was too personal and beyond their work responsibilities.

I tend to think that good AR people are valuable assets that shouldn’t be screwed with to micro-manage the AR-magic they do. In the worse case, AR people have to somehow extract value for their company from crabby, spaced out, and arrogant analysts. In the best case, they do that with friendly analysts. In either case, their job is built entirely of dealing with humans and the relationships thereof: all of that is an imprecise, intuitive based art that can’t just have new technologies dumped on it for the sake of using them. (Of course, the cynics out there could pile on that AR’s job is to “control” analysts, to which would say, see the comment on crabbiness above.)

To that end, if Twitter or any other technology that comes along messes with that magic, then never mind using it for AR. Any technology AR uses has to make their work more effective, not just obligatory.

Disclaimer: Adobe, Sun, IBM, and Microsoft are clients. And I like Apple products despite their radio silence ;>

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Categories: The Analyst Life.