Even Twitter Has a Lot to Learn About Using Twitter

Congratulations to Twitter for surviving its first earnings announcement as a public company. As expected, the company took an integrated approach, communicating its financial results via its @IRTwitter account along with more traditional forms of quarterly disclosure. While I like the concept and wholeheartedly agree they needed to do it (they are Twitter), did the company use it effectively?

Live tweeting an earnings conference call is a great way to reinforce the key messages in prepared remarks. The tweets can be prepared in advance, which helps simplify sharing and ensures legal counsel is comfortable. I like the comments shared during the CFO’s remarks along with the additional data and graphic elements provided. (This one was my favorite.) However, I wish they would have done more of it and at a quicker pace during the call itself. EBay, for example, is a company that uses Twitter effectively during earnings calls in this way. Twitter’s use of a unique hashtag (#twtrearnings) for the call was also a nice move, although it may have made sense to incorporate the company’s cashtag ($TWTR), as well, especially because users discussing the earnings results and call on Twitter were adding it to their tweets.   

In my opinion, they could have taken better advantage of traditional disclosures (read: the earnings release). The quotes (or lack thereof) in the release were a missed opportunity to provide context around the results, outlook and strategy. I’m hoping they will consider beefing up the statement from the CEO next quarter and possibly include a quote from the CFO.

I was intrigued that, during the call, they solicited questions via @IRTwitter for Q&A, in addition to taking questions from analysts on the phone. Although this is a great concept in theory (Hear! Hear! – for equal opportunity participation), I’m curious how it impacted the call-back volume handled by the IRO and executive team afterward. Were they excessively bogged down with more calls because analysts didn’t get their turn in the queue?  Did some analysts miss out because they don’t have Twitter accounts? If so, maybe extending the call by 15 to 30 minutes and using that time just to take questions via Twitter could be a good solution going forward. And let’s hope they don’t receive any angry tweets from those feeling slighted by not making the cut. But it might be too late for that. Regardless, I’m sure the IR team benefited from the process as questions gathered could help them gauge what messages were resonating with listeners and what could be improved on the next call. 

Given that analysts and the financial media weren’t quite sure what to expect from Twitter’s first earnings announcement – and were clearly disappointed by the mixed bag of solid revenue with poor user growth – the company really needed to communicate clearly and effectively. Twitter, more than anyone, should know social media is an excellent opportunity to get your message out there. But, all the tools will only get you so far if you don’t use them properly. From the release to the tweets, there were a lot of missed opportunities.

How did you feel about the Company’s use of its own platform? #Winning or #FAIL? Or did it just leave you wanting more?

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