In my current role, I am the team’s sector specialist for Property. Three of my colleagues also have sector specialist roles, to support the firm’s four key market areas. One of our objectives is to develop our in-depth knowledge of our own sectors, in order to provide better insight and intelligence to the firm.
Our line manager asked me recently to give a bit of a talk to the team about using social media to develop sector knowledge, as the firm has been getting more interested in making use of tools like Twitter for networking and raising our profile. My manager asked me to do this because he thought that out of the team, I had the most experience with social media. This is probably true, but when I started planning what I was going to say to my colleagues, I realised that the way I use social media for my own professional development is completely different from the way I’ve recently started to use it for sector monitoring. With Twitter in particular, I take a “profersonal” approach: I mainly follow other librarians, and use Twitter regularly for keeping up to date with developments in the library world, but I’m equally likely to tweet about books I’m reading, my plans for the weekend, or cute animal pictures as I am to tweet about ebook licensing or legal databases. My approach to who I follow and how I interact with them is very different on my new professional account, which I’ve set up purely for following people in the property world.
I wrote a bit of an outline for how to make the most out of Twitter for developing your knowledge of a market sector, and I thought I’d share it here, in case anyone else was starting to use Twitter in this way too and fancied some pointers.
Using Twitter for company and market intelligence
Twitter is useful for:
- Getting a “snapshot” of what the key issues are at any one time
- Learning who the influential people in your field are
- Starting conversations
Twitter is not useful for:
- In-depth research – although you can learn a lot by engaging with people, following links etc
- Following absolutely everything that is said – don’t even try to do this, it will drive you insane!
- Lists: you can organise people you follow, or don’t follow, into lists by category. Easier for seeing all updates related to one area together
- Hashtags: Using a hashtag turns word into a clickable link, so you can see all other tweets related to the same thing. Frequently used for events e.g. #MIPIM (property industry conference), also for specific interests e.g. #CRE (corporate real estate)
- Saved searches: e.g. for company names etc. Good for sentiment monitoring
Finding people to follow:
- Think about what you want to use it for: e.g. seeing what specific companies are up to? General industry comment?
- It’s worth looking to see if leading companies in your area have twitter feeds but following them is often not that useful, as company twitter accounts generally just tweet press releases etc
- Same for industry publications – probably not that useful if they only tweet links to their articles. BUT worth looking to see if any of their journalists tweet independently, as they will often tweet more opinion/comment
- Once you’ve found a few people to follow, look to see who they follow, etc. This will lead you to more people tweeting in the same area.
- Are any industry-specific events happening? See if there’s a hashtag, and see who’s tweeting about it.
- Keep it succinct – 140 characters does not allow you to get wordy!
- If you’re tweeting a link, say why you’re tweeting it / offer an opinion
- Retweets – usually implies agreement, so add comment if you’re RTing something you disagree with!
- RT etiquette – if not a direct RT (e.g. if you’re rephrasing, borrowing a link from someone else but adding your own comment, etc) it’s polite to credit the originator. Adding “via @someone” at the end usually works
- Don’t worry too much about it! Twitter is a free-for-all – there’s nothing to stop anyone joining in. Just go for it!
- If you’re worried about reflecting on your employer, either don’t mention the company in your bio, or add something to your bio like “opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect that of my employer”.
- Try and start a conversation. Ask questions, reply to people. Remember though that the more “high profile” someone is, the less likely they are to reply – purely through lack of time!