How To Engage Your Audience Using Twitter Research

Social Media has made it easier than ever to research and connect with your audience.

If you were to speak at a company just a few years ago, a common research technique would be to scan the corporate web site for press releases and news articles. But those resources don’t provide insight into a company’s culture.

The new technique I like to use revolves around Twitter. Twitter is a live, unfiltered, gossip-filled news-stream into the cubicles of a corporation. It’s a window into the culture of the company. You can learn a lot just by spending ten minutes a day reading employee tweets.

A friend of mine named Manuel Villacorta, the creator of the Eating Free Weight Management program, was planning a speaking engagement at video game-maker Ubisoft, a company he knew very little about initially.

Here’s how I suggested he research the company and its culture using Social Media:

First, research the company and its employees on LinkedIn. To do this, I had him pull up the Ubisoft Corporate page on Linkedin. There, he found employee personal pages, including their Twitter accounts (if they had one).

Second, Manuel created a Ubisoft Twitter “List,” which allowed him to categorize the people he followed.

If he had 10 minutes to kill, waiting for his latte at Starbucks, he could use his iPhone to scan his Ubisoft Twitter feed, free of any distractions of other tweets he may have on his global Twitter feed.

(I acknowledge that a few years ago, this research may seem a bit stalkerish, but in today’s “Like-Me-Follow-Me” Society, it’s become quite the norm. Twitter users become ecstatic when even the most random people start “following” them.)

Recently, Manuel was also preparing a speaking engagement at the Twitter Headquarters (believe it or not, it’s actually more than just 140 characters!).

I told Manuel, “You can use Twitter to research Twitter.”

I’ll use the “Twitter List” of Twitter employees to demonstrate this further, since Twitter employees are the last people who would call this “stalkerish.” (This is, after all, why Twitterites have a job, right?).

The first person Manuel added to his Twitter “Twitter List”: Adam Bain, CEO. Adam’s own “Twitter Lists,” which Bain has made public, included one called “Twitter/Team,” a complete list of employee Twitter accounts. In other words, this was exactly what Manuel was about to compile manually himself.

What did he learn from scanning the Twitter employee newsfeed?

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin recently spoke at Twitter. One Twitter employee tweeted: “Met Buzz Aldrin today… cross that off the bucket list. Next on the list: Walk on the Moon.”

Reading the CFO’s tweets in June, it was obvious he was a huge Dallas Mavericks fan. After they made it to the NBA Finals, CEO Bain tweeted: This seems like a good time to submit my expense reports.

Years ago, comedian Chris Rock use to ask taxi drivers for popular bars in towns where he was performing that night. Then he’d reference the bar in his routine.

This would make the audience think: “Wow! He goes to my favorite bar when he’s in town!”

Today, as a speaker you no longer need to hop in a cab to learn about where your Ubisoft, goes to Happy Hour. You can simply read their tweets, instead.

Sprinkling these tidbits throughout your talk should make it easier for you to connect with your audience.

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  1. Kristin Arnold2011-07-25 12:11:26

    Kevin- LOVE your ideas about using Twitter to research your audience. Thanks for the tips!

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