Twitter tips for analysts (guest post by Alyssa Gilmore)

01Mar10

Guest post by Alyssa Gilmore, Director of Analyst Relations, SunGard Financial Systems

The rise of social networks for professional publicity purposes presents influencers—including industry analysts—with a new brand challenge. In a virtual world aflame with big ideas and big names, how do you get your light to shine?

Several of the industry analysts I work with have recently asked me how they can best begin or improve their use of Twitter. As a means of expression of expertise, education and engagement, Twitter is a natural extension of the daily activities of an industry analyst and a powerful promotional tool to add to your publicity arsenal. Here are some of my thoughts on good analyst Twitter practices I’ve seen so far:

Cultivate the right community: it’s not just “Tweet it and they will follow”. To build your follower community, first stake your spot on Sage Circle’s Twitter Directory (http://sagecircle.com); it’s like a neon-lit billboard for attracting social-savvy AR pros and media. Also, make sure your firm handle announces you. Then, go for organic growth: find “Tweeple” whose following you’d like to emulate—the CEO of a company you cover, a prominent media figure for your industry—and reply to a few of their tweets on your topics of expertise. People using Twitter are often more social than those you may encounter in more traditional venues – you can build relationships with industry leaders that you might not come across in your usual circles.

Keep in mind that in addition to introducing yourself to that person, you’re announcing yourself to their followers. A good number of these are likely to be people who share your areas of interest and will want to follow you, especially once you’ve got an interesting Twitter stream going. As you accumulate followers, remember that the quality of your followers is an indication of your quality as a “leader”. Review your followers regularly. Return-follow those with good content. Block spammers ruthlessly.

Promote your publications in real-time. A second ago, you published that report on the hottest new trend since togas went out of style. Why wait for your firm’s weekly marketing e-newsletter to garner customer and media interest in your work? Announce it right now, or schedule it to go out as soon as the report hits your Web site, using a tool like HootSuite (http://hootsuite.com). Then, give a little something more. “New report published” is a dud. Provide a taste of key findings, not a spoiler, but something compelling that followers can re-tweet (hey! free publicity!). And don’t forget to link to the report summary on the Web. Click-throughs are high on Twitter, so the immediate impact on your download statistics can be substantial, not to mention the chance to get new eyes on your work.

Twitter is especially important if you’re blogging or have an online column. When you post, tweet a comment-inducing excerpt; drive traffic to your blog with a link, and continue the conversation “off-Twitter”. Then, tweet about the most compelling comments, driving more traffic back to the blog.

Be more than a commentator; be a conversation-starter. Don’t be afraid to break out of the “observe and advise” habit and offer your opinions up for active discussion, or validate interest in a topic you’re considering covering. A provocative statement or canny question encourages your followers to respond. . . and spread the thread to their followers. Keep it short, so your handle can be retweeted, and consider embedding a brief hashtag (words, abbreviations and linguistic mashups preceded by #) so you can track the discussion and find related ones. If it takes on a life of its own, so much the better; you’ll get a great indication of interest and might pick up a new angle as well. Do note: while drumming up ideas and debate on Twitter can be rewarding, it’s best to stop short of soliciting for survey respondents. . . unless you’re not particular about qualifying them!

Some media outlets and social-savvy firms are offering analysts a variety of ways to engage larger audiences in thought-leadership discussions. Ask a client, blogger or reporter about interviewing you on Twitter (“Twitterview”) on a timely topic that plays into their firm or reader interests. Often lasting less than 20 minutes, these bite-sized presentations give you a chance to convey your expertise in a conversational format. Don’t forget the hashtag—so followers can easily find and re-read the interview at will— and to re-post the whole thing on your blog.

Introduce your inner Clark Kent. So, you’re a super industry expert, able to leap to insightful conclusions in a single bound. That’s thrilling, and your followers love to see it. But they also want to know the person underneath the cape. Twitter is a social media tool, and it’s hard to be social with someone who only talks about how smart they are. Imagine you’re attending a huge, endless professional networking event and share your interests appropriately. For example, your photography hobby would be a great personal subject for Twitter. Your Lois Lane obsession? Not so much.

How to decide what to share and what to keep out of the digital domain? Just remember that you are developing your professional persona. Unless you want to be associated with heated arguments, complaints about your work or clients, or religious or political rants, please exercise restraint. And take a look at how some other analysts—particularly those focused on social media—are using Twitter; Jeremiah Owyang, of Altimeter Group, wrote about his own Twitter use on his blog ages before the rest of us even knew what it was: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/29/how-i-use-twitter-and-you/

By building a cohesive community, promoting product promptly, engaging with fellow experts and being appropriately social, with just a few minutes of dedicated Twitter time a day you can enhance your public profile, gain new research ideas, connect with other experts, and attract new business. So what are you doing still reading my blog? Go tweet!



One Response to “Twitter tips for analysts (guest post by Alyssa Gilmore)”

  1. Excellent recommendations, Alyssa and refreshing to boot! I’d add one cautionary note on individuals promoting research in real-time. Paying clients expect to be told first that a report is available and to be given a heads up on the compelling findings. Analysts who fail to uphold client trust are doomed to fail in this job and the next. Figure out how to speed up client communications as you figure out how to reach everyone else instantly through public channels like Twitter.

    Also, I hope analysts will ensure that your and your company Tweeter handles are included in the Twitter lists I’m curating at @Tekrati. As of today, I’ve listed 498 analysts on tech-industry-analysts and 132 companies on industry-analyst-firms. Thanks!


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