A Twitterer's Dilemma: Looking Back at our First Year on Twitter
I am one of the youngest employees here at the NetDocuments Orem office, if not the youngest, and if my calculations are correct, I am one of only two non-married employees at the company. So near the end of 2007, as the Twittershpere was reaching a Twittical Mass, the good folks in our marketing department, specifically Leonard Johnson, decided that it was time for us to join the party and see if social media was all @NikiBlack and @AdrianDayton had cracked it up to be. So after about a year and change of tweeting, we are believers. We've drunk the Kool-Aid, downloaded the iPhone app and continue to ride shotgun in the Twitter bandwagon.
Why We Got Started
Every Social Media guru, ninja, consultant, @GuyKawasaki wannabe or whatever they are calling themselves these days, say's that you must have a clearly defined purpose for using social media. So as we started Twitter, our two main goals were to create more interaction with our customers and partners, and to better understand the small law and small business market in order to build relationships with people in these areas.
- Interact with Partners and Customers
Twitter has been a very effective tool for us in this regard. Especially after the Twitter Lists feature was released last summer. We created various Twitter lists to easily follow our more Twitroverted customers and partners including a NetDocuments Users List, a LegalTech New York list, and a T3 Technology Conference list among others. Through Twitter we've set up webinars, marketing activities and provided technical support. We saw that Twitter was so effective is sending real-time news that last fall we setup a separate account for the NetDocuments service status.
- Build Relationships
Before 2009, we had a distribution partnership with LexisNexis in which they handled marketing activities for small law firms. As our distribution partnership with Lexis ended in January of 2009, we saw Twitter as a good way for us to get back into the small law and small business markets, and to start building relationships there. Through Twitter, we were quickly able to make contacts with technology consultants, bloggers and training partners, as well as proselyte the value of SaaS technology and cloud computing.
- 1st 3 months
I've heard a stat numerous times and from various twitter streams (which I guess means it's true?) that say's 70%-80% of new Tweeters go the Twitter graveyard within the first three months, but we were determined to not be a Twitter-Qwitter, and we weren't.
Those first three months on Twitter were like my first semester of sophomore year when I moved to a new high school; the only differences were that this time I didn't get slammed into lockers or get my head stuffed in a toilet. It was fun and exciting and we met a lot of new people. In those first months we connected with people like @softwaretrainer, @CurtisASmithCFP and @DonnaSeyle, learned new words and phrases like Direct Message, #HashTag and Tweet-Up, and had some funny experiences.
After getting tweet happy one day I was told by a good friend that I had Twitterrhea and should slow down the number of tweets. After that I tried so hard to have correct Twitterquette that my tweets were boring and dry. Also, at the time we had few followers so it was easy to read nearly every one of their tweets and interact with all of our new tweeps.
- The next 6 months
If our first three months was sophomore year, the next six was the rest of high school. Our mind was opened up to many new things and we experimented with most of them. I think we tried every possible twitter manager that existed from TweetDeck to Twellow to Google Wave, but ended up liking Hootsuite the best due to the fact that it was feature rich and required zero software downloads. We fiddled with linking our Twitter and Facebook profiles but we decided that TweetBooking wasn't for us as the platforms are different and we decided that we should post different content on each site.
Our favorite week was when we ran a contest via Twitter at the ILTA conference last summer. This created positive buzz and was a fun way to interact with others at the show.
The only downside of Twitter maturity was that as we started following more people, it became a bit less personal as it was harder to keep up with all the tweets and content that was coming in. Although it continues to be difficult to keep up with all that goes on, we've learned ways such as Twitter Lists and saved searches to stay current and remain social.
I've been impressed with how fast the folks at Twitter try to respond to its users in innovating its site and service while keeping it simple and easy. Although they've had a few mess-ups, like their Re-Tweet function that I still don't like, for the most part they have kept up with the curve. So in year two of our Twitter life, I expect to find new and innovative ways to use Twitter and continue moving towards our goals of interacting with customers and building relationships that move beyond 140 characters.