(The following post originally appeared on ONSecurities, a top Minnesota legal blog founded by Martin Rosenbaum to address securities, governance and compensation issues facing public companies.)
As I said in this previous post, Broc Romanek, the editor of theCorporateCounsel.net and writer of the associated blog, spoke in Minneapolis recently at a meeting of the local chapter of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals. Broc spoke effectively about the expanding use of social media, and the need for all of us to get more familiar with the new technology.
To paraphrase, don’t reject Twitter just because it was the medium used in “Weinergate”, or just because some Twitter writers think you are interested in their latest stop at Starbucks. If you are not following social media, you are missing out on an important new source of corporate news. Institutional investors are reading tweets, and a majority of IR departments are on Twitter. See Broc’s post from earlier this year, “Time for You to Consider Tweeting? The IR Pros Are....”
The point is, you owe it to yourself to get at least a passing familiarity with social media, especially Twitter. So how should you get started if you’ve never tried it? Here are some of Broc’s suggestions (mixed in with some of my own) from his segment called “How (and why) to become a power social media user in 15 minutes”:
- First, go to Twitter.com and set up your account. Choose an account name or “handle,” probably based on your name. Mine is MartinRosenbaum.
- Use the search bar at the top of the Twitter page to find a few people you want to follow, and then hit the “Follow” button. For example, take a look at the pages for Broc Romanek, Doug Chia and Lisa Lentini (the latter two are in-house corporate governance professionals who are very social media-savvy). You’ll see a combination of short news items with links to web content (each “tweet” is limited to 140 characters) and commentary on business and occasionally non-business matters. For each person you follow, you can see a list of whom they follow and who follows them, which can give you more ideas about people you might want to follow. Some of the people that you follow may also start to follow you.
- Once you are following a few people, you will be able to view a string of tweets – your own personal news feed. Broc suggests that you organize them by going to TweetDeck.com and downloading the TweetDeck application for your computer or tablet. You can also see a string of related tweets on a particular topic when you click on a term in a tweet that starts with a “hashtag”, such as #SayonPay.
- To look at tweets about your company, try entering the company name or trading symbol in the search box. Or, register for StockTwits, a service recommended by Broc. This is one of several sites that track company information and trading information through social media like Twitter. This technology is now facilitating social trading, where financial investors rely on social media-generated information to make trades.
- Once you feel more comfortable with the process, you can try a few tweets yourself. A good way to start is to “retweet” the posts of others that you find interesting – essentially, someone else’s tweet is sent to your network of followers.