As I’ve written before, I love social media. Every day I learn something new either from my use of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, or about them and other social software offerings. In my job, tweeting is sort of mandatory, although I enjoy it enough I’d probably do it anyway. It is interesting to see how the people I follow segregate business from personal in their tweets. Most of them tend to mix, as I do, which is a blend of showing your personality and what you think is important business wise for your followers to see.
But as more and more people join in the chatter it is also interesting to see people trying to figure out protocol around the use of social media. From an analyst perspective, a lot of this came to light over the last six months of travel to analyst and user conferences in unified communications and contact centers. Analysts love to tweet at these events. Many discussions on the subject with colleagues and vendors included the following benefits of tweeting meetings:
- Analysts get to speak out on what they think is important in the presentations
- Vendors get to see real-time what is resonating with analysts as often we will tweet something simultaneously, and certainly retweet thoughts of our colleagues that resonate with us
- Analysts get in micro discussions over something either agreeing wholeheartedly, or adding a new point or counterpoint
- Analysts and others that can’t attend the meeting can get the tone and content by following the event’s hash tag
- Vendors get real-time questions from their audience without interruption. We tweet a question and get quick responses.
Not to mention the amusement factor. My fellow analysts can be pretty funny, and I think that the silent banter that happens during these events brings levity to what used to be plain PowerPointville. Some other interesting things have occurred as well. First, from a tactical standpoint, it is painfully clear that most hotels were built before the laptop age. Three quarters of the briefings I’ve been to in a year were in ballrooms that had no plugs nearby, or in some cases, due to the rooms being configurable, no plugs anywhere. It took a while before vendors caught on to make sure the properties laid down power strips. This brought that amusement factor to our tweets as in that first meeting, as each analyst had their laptops run out of juice, they would tweet that they were dying, leaving, or whatever. We had power after lunch.
Then there is what we can tweet and not. There has been no consistency. After vendors figured out that they had to provide us with a hash tag (most caught on pretty quickly), they had to figure out what to do with confidential or “NDA” stuff. At first it was common for us to ask if we could tweet something or not. Then some started to tell us when we couldn’t – typically financial or product roadmap information. One company allowed us to tweet everything except the financial and roadmap information at one event, and then completely flipped this at another by telling us not to tweet unless they said it was ok. For the later, I know I wasn’t the only one who just decided to not tweet at all because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. Another vendor after that told attendees that everything at the conference was tweetable. From the tweets about this, that resonated with analysts.
Even though we are several years into this new form of communication, protocol is still being figured out. The downside is that even if you decide not to participate it doesn’t relieve you of the chance that anything you say might be tweeted or anything you do might be documented by a cellphone camera and uploaded to Facebook. And for companies and analysts alike, there is a need for vigilance in asking about or saying when something should be public or not as social media is immediate and spontaneous.