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Is Your GIS/Geo Company Really Taking Advantage of Twitter? December 16, 2008

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
Tags: ,

Just because your company is on Twitter doesn’t mean that you’re company Twitters! Interesting discussions lately coming out of a number of camps – example, see Mashable piece on Twitter and brands. Twitter is a funny thing and it’s a different tool to every user.

There’s no right or wrong way to twitter, although there is some etiquette and there are some more effective ways to Tweet. Indeed it does boil down to the individual behind the account as to how the account will be used and whether or not the information pushed/pulled via the Twitter is going to be one way, two-way, collaborate, or simply, robotic.

Companies are jumping onto Twitter in hoards and I’m sure many Corps. are quickly appointing an individual to make sure that they get their company out there and on Twitter… but what exactly does that mean? I’ll pick on ESRI as an example… @ESRI appears to be the official corporate Twitter account for ESRI… but does that mean that ESRI is “on Twitter”. I guess it does. The company has obviously elected an individual to maintain the Twitter for them and material (most news and announcements) are pushed to the account mostly via RSS (ala Twitterfeed). This has become a common way for the corporate Twitter account to take life… makes sense. Setup a push for your news and let the Twitter homepage take on a life of its own. I asked some of my Twitter contacts how they felt about this and if they find it useful… those interested in staying informed of ESRI’s news announcements indeed felt it to be useful. To be fair to ESRI, they are hardly the only company that uses this approach. Others, like @TerraGo, use Twitter not only to push news (although they do that) but they also actively engage customers, PR people like myself, and the public to educate and inform them about the company and their solutions.

Of interest to the ESRI followers, the official @esri is not the only way you can interact with the company on Twitter – enter @JimBarry. Jim heads up the EDN program and is very active on Twitter. I had a chance to speak on the phone with Jim a couple of weeks ago and we discussed ESRI’s foray into social media and Twitter. ESRI seems to be treading carefully into this space but is also not holding back their employees, rather, letting those that are early adopters embrace the technology and use it to better communicate amongst themselves and with their customers… well done! I would also encourage other GIS and Geo Technology forms to look at this approach, using tools like Twitter to not only promote themselves and their news, but as a communication tool to provide technical assistance to customers, solicit feedback from users, and even listen in on what others are saying about them – a tip: at search.twitter.com you can create a search on any term (like your company name) and have the results pushed to an RSS feed)
There are no right or wrong ways to Twitter, although, there are many things you can do to make your Twitter experience more productive and useful. In my mind, Twitter will become useful once you reach a critical mass of people to follow and people that follow you… until then it may be a rather lonely experience. History to date seems to indicate that if people (or companies) follow you, you should follow them back (provided they are of interest to your industry). I currently have a 3:4 ratio of people I follow : followers. In my mind, corporate twitter users should take this into account and realize that when people follow you and they them try to contact you (or D reply via Twitter) if you aren’t following them they could in fact get a little ticked off… is this what you want? For more information about Twitter branding and the corporate Twitter, check out this recent post on Mashable and be sure to read the dozens of interesting comments for some great advice.

Here’s a few comments I received from my followers regarding the corporate Twitter account that doesn’t follow them in return:
– twitter is a *social* network. If you can’t be social, like @XXXX isn’t, then you shouldn’t be on twitter
– I refuse to follow twitterfeed posters. If that’s all you do, you don’t get twitter, and therefore don’t deserve to be followed.
– If the feed is used that way, and it is known when you subscribe, then it’s OK with me – I follow a few like that, CNN, NYTimes
– employees following users is more important for discussion
– My opinion is they prefer a one way mouthpiece, and/or haven’t really devoted a “person” to it. Useful? That depends.
– I actually don’t mind because it allows me to use twitter as my main news source.



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