Monday, 5 December 2011

Social Business Play Book - Chapter 4 - [Corporate] Social Media @ Intervate // Twitter

This article will take approximately 15 minutes to read

This is an article that was written recently for the business I am in, but the principles can be transposed to any business seeking to take the first steps to transformng to being a social business.
For those of you that don’t know: Intervate is on twitter!

Go FOLLOW us and stay in the loop with Intervate in the twitterverse and join in the conversation.

But Wait!  In the inimitable words of Randy Illig, “…what do you understand by twitter…?”

“Ok so twitter is that… it’s that thing that’s on the web and… people keep talking about it and… well it’s twiiter is’nt…?!*@#”

So if that’s you right now ( who me?-;) )… Fear not. 

Our intention is to first help you to understand what twitter is, then to show you how Intervate is using it as a part of our strategy and then to show you, yes YOU, how you can get involved in that conversation.

So I suggest, you sit back, take 15 minutes, at a time when you know you are not going to be disturbed, and have a read - then have a break and go away think about it. When you are ready, come back to the article, re-read it and then see if you can put into practice your new found knowledge.

Let’s begin…

So what is this twitter thing?
  • Twitter is an information network.
  • Millions of people, organizations, and businesses use it to discover and share new information.
  • On Twitter, anyone can read, write and share messages of up to 140 characters. These messages, or Tweets, are public and available to anyone interested in them.
  • Twitter users subscribe to your messages by ‘following’ your account. Followers receive every one of your messages in their timeline: a feed of all the accounts they have subscribed to.
  • When you combine messages that are quick to write, easy to read, public, opt-in, and accessible anywhere, you have a powerful, real-time way of communicating.
Ok so that is official line from the twitter website.  It’s good, I agree, but even as a twitter user I am reading that and making maybe a 75% connection to what it’s saying. 

So what better way than to just fire up the browser and actually take a look at this bird?  So if you are not familiar with twitter or you don’t have a twitter account let’s get one, and actually check under the hood.
You need to go to

You can actually click this hyperlink in your email.  Create yourself an account and take 3 minutes to tweet some messages and run a couple of searches on topics that you are familiar with so that you can see the information flow. 

Go check that out and then come back…

++ Intermission ++

// Be a part of the conversation //

If you have just been playing with twitter for the first time, you may be left wondering what all the fuss is about.  So you get a stack of message results coming back, what’s the big deal?  Let’s see if this answer reveals itself as we move through this ‘conversation’ we are having J.

At Intervate, there are a number of people who are either technology or marketing focused individuals who have the responsibility to tweet information via the Intervate official twitter feed to the Intervate followers. 

This means that these people directly represent the brand, the company, the staff, the directors and the shareholders when they tweet on this account.  As you can imagine this could have significant impact depending on the number of people that this message could reach either from native followers of the Intervate twitter account or even from viral means through re-tweets – this is the concept of repeating what someone has said and therefore broadcasting it to your own and potentially unique followers, also known as a “RT”
So the point that needs to be made clear here is that corporate social media, and in this instance Intervate’s twitter account, and twitter on the whole is a powerful medium and one that is respected by these individuals (and the community at large) entrusted with the responsibility of such a media outlet which represents the Intervate business and therefore all of us, in some regards.

Whatever you write on the internet through any form, be it twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook etc, you write it in indelible ink – make sure you want to be associated with that after you have posted.

This covers part one of the precautionary information you need to know - Lets now take a look at some of the fun parts. 

There can be no dispute that twitter is an incredible communication medium that can assist you to discover and share information.  Let’s take a moment to try an exercise: 

1. Go to your newly created twitter account.

2. Go to the search bar at the top of the twitter window.

3. Enter a topic of subject that interests you, could be work related or not, so: SharePoint or Cycling, or diving, or taxonomy or anything else that springs to mind.

Read the message results - some will have just character-based messages, some will have hyperlinks which will open other windows of information for you to consume. If you like what you see, and you think you find this person worthy of membership to your twitterati (urban dictionary definition:  the twitter elite in terms of content quality and followers), then click on the avatar; this will show some details about the twitter account, be it an organisation a person or an anonymous entity - you can follow this person, which will result in their tweets being shown in your timeline, by clicking the “+Follow” button.

So let’s recap – you now know what twitter is, you now know that Intervate uses it and we have people who populate the feed, and you now have your own twitter account (hopefully!) and you have got some hands-on practical experience.

Let’s head back to our precautionary information:

I am going to quickly explain the concept of the viral network capability through some calculations. As we have previously reviewed, twitter is an amazing tool to facilitate communication, sharing and information gathering. 

Let’s look at an example of some of the larger brands in our industry on twitter:
  • HP has 85,267 followers on twitter.
  • If HP tweets a message to its followers: “special offer - this weekend only – half price ink cartridges”, which is 85,267 twitter accounts,
  • That means that this message has arrived in the feed of 85,267 twitter accounts globally.
  • Let’s say that 30% of that twitter populous (approx. 26,000) decide that they like that message and they want to share that with their followers, let’s assume that each of the 26,000 who will RT this message have an average of 1000 followers themselves. 
This means after one round of viral RT’s this message has reached 85,267 followers of HP and 26,000,000 (yes that’s 26M people) followers of HP’s followers. 
That’s a reach into the social media world that marketers just love. 

But let’s hope that the message was not posted by mistake on the wrong weekend, otherwise the impact of that could be very damaging!

Let’s take Intervate by comparison.  We are by no means close to the likes of HP, because we have only just started our social media strategy and we are of course less of a known brand than the largest computer maker in the world!
  • Intervate has 112 followers on twitter.
  • If Intervate tweets a message to its followers, which is 112 twitter accounts: “50 iPads to be given away at Tech Ed 2011 – come to the Intervate stand”.
  • Let’s say that 30% of that twitter populous (approx. 34) decide that they like that message and they want to share that with their followers, let’s assume that each of the 34 who will RT this message have an average of 1000 followers themselves. 
This means after one round of viral RT’s this message has reached 112 followers of Intervate and 112,000 followers of Intervate’s followers. 

Not bad for a company a fraction of the size of HP.

But what if the person that posted this read the wrong event on their brief and it should have shown ‘Share2012’ because Intervate doesn’t have a stand at Tech Ed 2011? 

Ooops… the power of social media.

I hope these examples highlight the capability of twitter as a communication medium, its power and reach and the pronounced indelible touch that it leaves on the internet. 

Please also understand that it’s not just company brands that can incur damage to their reputation or standing, the same is true for personal accounts as well.  Posting in your personal name information that others may deem foolhardy should be something that you consider carefully before going ahead and posting.

In this instance, you could damage your own personal brand and in a day and age where the internet is a record that cannot be easily erased this may not be your smartest move.

As you can imagine the conversations that occur on twitter are: dialogues, they are broadcast, they are candid and they can behave like bush fires – they flare up and then remain wild and untamed until the elements are exhausted.  This presents an enormous opportunity for any business to dominate the topic of conversation in their community which in turn of course helps to build brand, which in turn creates trust and in turn drives our vision:

to be the recognised leader in the provision of information management solutions.’

I am hoping by now you can see where this article is heading.  The idea behind the education in this topic is so that we can all participate in the conversation about the company and the company’s business - The company that you work at, and work hard to deliver on Intervate’s mission:

‘to deliver to customers, solutions that have meaningful impact, that improves productivity and reduces costs.’

As with any powerful tool, such as a chainsaw, a bazooka, an AK-47 or twitter, we tend not to read the manual before operating…or is that just the boys…;)

The second part of this article will therefore provide you with some more concise guidance on how you might conduct yourself, or separate your personal profile from your Intervate employee profile and some tips on what might be considered, Oversharing: 

‘oversharing’ – definition: oversharing explains the concept when a person provides too much information about themselves, their company that they work for, their partners or friends or generally information that is not suitable to be shared in a multimedia forum, with the content of ‘suitable’ being based on popular convention.

The objective of the exercise however is to participate and not to limit; so maybe we should just keep this simple.  The rule of thumb that works for me is never to tweet or retweet something that I wouldn’t say or repeat to a person that I had just met for the first time, assuming that you would like to remain beyond reproach of course.

Other than this some enabling guidance:

The # tag, or hash tag works like a folksonomy as part of taxonomy or in other words: hash tags group information together enabling searches to return information using common tags.  They are not controlled centrally therefore anyone can use a hash tag and anyone else can re-use it. 

On the website you will notice the lower middle column is a list from the Intervate twitter feed refined by the #intervate hash tag and @intervate messages.  To have your tweet feature on this feed you either need to include the intervate account by using the @intervate address in your tweet or by adding #intervate to your message.

Everyone is welcome to share in the #intervate conversation

Tweet about your work experience, cool discovery’s, great achievements, challenges and requests, a fun activity or just to show your support for your company – just remember about the rule of thumb above and I am just going to add some other scenarios you might want to consider, before tweeting about them:
  • A pre-sales meeting at a new prospect where you don’t necessarily want the competition to know yet…
  • A confidential message that has just been issued to the staff for Intervate-ears only.
  • A complaint from a customer that you have received (a customer may complain on twitter about Intervate which would be managed – but we should not initiate or encourage such action, nor RT a complaint – remember the viral example earlier).
  • Customer confidential information or information that is privileged under any kind of agreement personal or companywide, for example: a customer/project ‘Non-Disclosure Agreement’.
  • Profanity, or otherwise potentially embarrassing information, photographs, or video, of staff, customers or other community members.

Some recent #intervate tweets from the actual feed:
RT marcfletcher marcfletcher by Intervate
@TopSharepoint: SharePoint-based websites that really stands out #sharepoint #spstcdc #sp2010 #webdesign#intervate
RT troysgerber Troy Gerber by Intervate
Busy implementing a Global intranet Solution that spans 10 Countries and 8 languages. #SharePoint variations are becoming my friends...
Intervate Intervate
#Intervate is the Premier Sponsor of Share 2012: sign up today to be a part of this unique event. #SharePoint
Intervate Intervate
Welcome to Nandipha Banjwa who joined Intervate in Cape Town on Monday as a Technology Consultant :) Team #Intervate !
Intervate Intervate
RT @AlistairPugin: Just got back from 'That 80's Show' at GrandWest, AWESOME!! #Intervate company nite out. Go Team!!!
Intervate Intervate
@share4business Welcome @Intervate premier partner for Share - SharePoint Conf. for Biz Users @eventfulgroup #intervate
RT AlistairPugin Alistair Pugin by Intervate
#SPSCPT reservations coming in fast. 25% already taken. Register now to avoid disappointment.
RT jm Lionel Moyal by Intervate
#Intervate #Kofax South Africa capture Forum.. Gia and Angelo: Great joint presentation! Good team!
RT HannsKK Hanns Kohler-Kruner by Intervate
Intervate, Document Capture & Process Executive Forum - Programme | ITWeb Keynote. Who will be there? #intervae #kofax

If you are, in your own opinion, opinionated, and wish to be opinionated in way that could be misconstrued as anyway potentially negative towards the company you work for, or if you simply wish to separate your views from the company that you work for, then people tend to write on their bio’s simply: “tweets/views are my own and not of my company” or something similar.  
You are under no obligation to do so if you are blogging under your personal name with no identifiable references to Intervate, however this is considered good netiquette.

As you can see a variety of information ends up on the feed and you are encouraged to join in where it makes sense and helps us to achieve our vision and mission at Intervate.

The final note to add, is that common sense will always prevail – if it doesn’t seem right, it normally isn’t – so take a moment, think, then post. 

Please enjoy twitter and consider its use to help your company create the conversations with its staff, customers, community and stakeholders and to help it to achieve its vision: to be the recognised leader in the provision of information management solutions.

Here are just a few key takeaway thoughts:

·         Share your experiences with the twitterverse – include either @intervate or #intervate if its Intervate related and you want to include Intervate in the conversation.

·         Add ‘tweets are my own’ to your profile if you tweet about Intervate, the business, its customers, projects etc.

·         Follow @intervate and RT the company’s tweets to your followers when it makes sense.

·         Have fun with twitter!

Thanks for reading my article - if you liked it or found it useful, please click the FaceBook Like or Tweet/ReTweet my post if you are on twitter, so that others may enjoy and benefit from it.  Thanks for your support.

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