Everywhere you turn, everyone is talking about Twitter.
Some people love it and describe it as if it were the best thing since sliced bread. Others think it is the most ridiculous thing to ever become popular.
My opinion is more moderated. I think, as a networking tool, Twitter has value. I also think that Twitter can be used in a way that makes it a grand waste of time.
Should you start becoming active on Twitter? That depends.
I see Twitter as a conversation starting tool. And a starter of conversations that are best continued outside of Twitter via more conventional means.
If you don’t care about connecting with others who you may not otherwise connect with, then don’t bother. But if you’d like to make some connections – now is the time. Twitter’s user base is growing and the novelty of being followed or following someone will decrease in inverse proportion to Twitter’s user base.
Here are some basic tips for using Twitter as a procurement professional…
1. Don’t use Twitter on the job unless it is actually part of your job to do so. Each of your posts – or “tweets,” as they are called – is time-stamped. Despite some diminishing unemployment statistics, companies are still laying off employees by the hundreds of thousands each week and you don’t want using Twitter during work time to be the reason you’re unemployed.
2. Be conscious of tweet quantity. As a follower (that’s the word used when you sign up to receive a particular person’s tweets), I have a hard time digesting when people tweet more than three times per day. I usually won’t follow someone who tweets that often. It’s just a turnoff. You want to be “followable.” Ten or more tweets a day is way more than I want to hear from one person. And posting tons of links within a day gets annoying, too. How much time do you think people have to be reading on any given day? “Chain tweeters” (I think I invented a term there) create the personal brand of being someone that has nothing else to do all day.
3. Be conscious of tweet quality. Even if you post a reasonable quantity of tweets, it is a turnoff if your tweets have nothing interesting to read. Yes, the Twitter home page says “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” and above the text box where you type in your tweet it says “What are you doing?” But the most annoying tweets are those where people actually do type in what they are doing! If you are using Twitter as a professional networking tool, I’m sorry to report that no one cares if you are in traffic, no one cares if you just bought a hot dog, no one cares about anything personal about you (sorry if this hurts, but it’s true). Posting those things does your personal brand more harm than good. Better to not tweet than to tweet something boring. Make your tweets valuable!
4. Never, ever complain about work on Twitter. As fleeting as a tweet feels when you post it, it can last forever in the mind of someone who read it. Twitter is just not the appropriate forum for work complaints.
5. Twitter can be a good tool to help you become more concise in your writing. Twitter limits your tweets to a maximum of 140 characters. That’s not a lot. So you have to squeeze in what you want to say in a small amount of space. Unfortunately, leaving out details can result in misunderstandings. So be careful to be both concise and complete. Not a bad skill to have.
6. Tweet about things that your followers don’t have access to. I personally enjoy reading tweets about procurement conferences that I wasn’t able to attend. I am getting some info on what I am missing and that’s pretty valuable to me. (As a guilty pleasure, I loved reading tweets about how mediocre the ISM conference was last week, especially after their marketing person started “re-tweeting” some of the early posts from people who tweeted about being on their way. She didn’t re-tweet much after people started tweeting negative things from the conference itself.).
7. Use caution when asking or answering questions. Its not only Twitter’s 140 character limitation that can cause misunderstandings. It is Twitter’s lack of associating a reply with a tweet that can cause misunderstandings. I’ll use a real-life example from a Twitter conversation between myself and Tim Minahan, Ariba’s Chief Marketing Officer, to illustrate. Here’s how it went.
Tminahan: Marketing guru Seth Godin: market has shifted from “how can I spend money to grow my brand” to “show me how I can save money.” Do you agree?
Nextlevelpurch: i agree, but as recessions are relatively short, so too will be the focus on saving $ as the go-to mktg strategy, except…
Nextlevelpurch: …except for those of us whose value proposition is saving money in good times and bad.
Tminahan: My question was whether procurement success in today’s market requires new skills (technical, financial, engineering)?
What??? What do technical, financial, and engineering skills in procurement have to do with Seth Godin – a marketing guru?
Well, I looked at Tim’s tweets and in between his Seth Godin question and my reply was another question that he tweeted. That tweet said: BW says: 3M US job openings can’t get filled due to a skills mismatch. http://tinyurl.com/de92t4 Is this a metaphor for procurement market?
I replied back to Tim and noted that I was answering his Seth Godin question but never received a reply from him. Again, because tweets are so fleeting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim didn’t know what I was talking about.
So be careful not to ask too many questions because it may be difficult to know which questions your followers are answering. And – despite that 140 character limitation – try to indicate what question you are responding to when you do want to offer an answer to a tweeted question.
So what do I post on Twitter?
I post links to my blog posts and new PurchTips articles. I believe that traditional blog readers are migrating to Twitter for their online time, particularly with the degradation of quality that I’ve observed among long-standing procurement blogs. So, I think Twitter helps keep this blog (which is hopefully getting better, not worse) where the eyeballs are moving. I also post “Procurement Thoughts of the Day,” which I indicate with the prefix “PTOTD.” These are just random things on my mind that you may or may not find useful, inspirational, funny, or none of the above. Here is a smattering of them:
- PTOTD: Honey may catch more flies than vinegar, but vinegar seems to get your phone calls returned faster.
- PTOTD: Instead of saying “That doesn’t apply to us – we don’t do that,” ask yourself “Is that something we should be doing?”
- PTOTD: Big co. negotiators are often the most effective, but also often one-dimensional. How would u negotiate differently for a smaller co.?
- PTOTD: What do gov’t procurement & parenting a 5-year-old have in common? U hear the words “That’s not fair” more times than is justified
- PTOTD: Purchasing, procurement, supply mgt., sourcing…There’s no “best.” Pick 1 and be consistent when u talk to internal customers.
- PTOTD – Does your savings initiative have a cost? In other words, are you sacrificing quality, delivery, or service for a better price?
- PTOTD – Document every procurement improvement. Review at least annually. If nothing has changed in a year, someone’s not performing.
- PTOTD: Sick of STILL having 2 prove urself? It’s not personal. U do/should have 2 prove urself every day no matter who u r/what u’ve done.
- PTOTD: Is the best supplier not bidding coz u copied & pasted irrelevant stuff in ur RFP, making ur business more work than it’s worth?
- PTOTD: If ur boss reviews ur work, s/he is an approver, not ur personal proofreader. Make it perfect. If ur boss does ur job, ur disposable.
- PTOTD: The meek may inherit the earth, but they’re probably paying their suppliers too much
- PTOTD: The downside of re-negotiating in a recession is that suppliers will think re-negotiating is fair game when markets recover.
- PTOTD: A lower price in the hand is worth two rebates in the bush
Understand that these tips are only my opinions, not necessarily best practices. Take them for what they are worth.
If you’d like to follow Next Level Purchasing on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/nextlevelpurch.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At