Frankly, when I first heard of Twitter, I thought it was stupid. I didn’t care where Ashton Kutcher ate lunch or that some random person I didn’t know was on the way to the gym nor did I think that anyone would care that I just bought a mocha frappucino light at Starbucks and I certainly didn’t want anyone following me. Much to my chagrin, however, Financial Technologies Forum jumped on the social media bandwagon in late 2009 and opened our corporate Twitter account, @FTFNews.
I have to give credit, however, to my team and our NYU Stern intern at the time for pushing me and helping me to see its benefits. My generation is right on the cusp of the social media frenzy. Facebook was not around when I was in college and I just saw Twitter as a waste of time. Although it seems silly in hindsight, when FTF wrote its first tweet, it was like the first day of school; I was afraid nobody would like us. Sarah and I thought for a while about what it would be and on August 7, 2009, it came to us, “Information Mosaic is now sponsoring FTF’s 3rd Annual Corporate Actions Processing Event, October 14th.” Profound, eh? No hash tag, no link to the event, no shout out to the @InfoMosaic account, but we did it, we were out there. We struggled a bit with what to tweet and being creative in getting our messages to 140 characters or less. We did research and read books on social media and got a bit better at it (or so we’d like to think) and established a following. Now, we don’t second guess about what we are going to tweet about; it’s just second nature. We aim to balance our tweets with things related to what’s going on at FTF and the industry, random fun and interesting facts and, of course, if you know us at this point, what NYC food truck or food establishment we frequented that day. We have also since established our blog, TheBullRun, and a Facebook fan page (all of our 26 fans are very loyal).describe the image
To be perfectly honest, I still don’t like it and I am not afraid to admit it. That being said, however, I don’t want to come off as a total non-believer. I get it now but I still don’t like it and wish we didn’t have to do it. Dozens of tweets come in from our followers every minute and I often find it hard to keep up. I also struggle with finding a balance between tweeting and getting work done. I do, however, recognize and acknowledge the benefits. For starters, I think it goes unnoticed more if you don’t have a Twitter account than if you are posting Tweets that go unanswered. Also, one of the mottos here at FTF is “Do what your competitors refuse to do” and I can safely say that we are one of few (if not the only) event company that tweets and blogs and has a Facebook account. Finally, our presence has not gone unnoticed by our clients and industry peers. We’ve definitely established relationships that we didn’t have before and strengthened ones that were already present. We have also closed business from our social media efforts.
While I do see the benefits, I still question its 0verall purpose. My team manages the @FTFNews corporate account and I manage my own personal @Confgirl06 account. We often tweet at our clients or industry peers or “for fun follows” like food trucks and TV personalities or we post questions if we need some advice. And sometimes, we get an answer, but more often than not, we don’t. We also follow a number of industry bodies and organizations that have an account but rarely tweet or only tweet about company related things and don’t interact with its followers. So, I often wonder, who is really watching their Twitter account and who is the face (if any) behind these accounts? Is it just a machine belting out dozens of tweets a minute and is that really enough? Does social media really have the benefits everyone thinks it does and has anyone been able to measure the true business advantages? Is it enough just to have a twitter account or is it what you tweet that matters? Was it our tweeting that won the business and strengthened our relationships or would we have done that anyway? For now, I feel my questions will largely go unanswered and I will just continue to “Believe”.
What are your thoughts? Do you take notice of companies and individuals that don’t have a twitter account? Do you notice which companies you follow but don’t really tweet? And do you think less of either of those groups? Most importantly, however, do you think those that fail to embrace social media will impede growth and be left behind?