By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy
On April 10 last year, I attended an internal meeting by my colleague Gerry Van Zandt (@GerryVZ on Twitter). Gerry was presenting a session titled "Twitter 101" to the HP Enterprise Business analyst and press relations managers; I weaseled an invite from him to attend. I was a Twitter naysayer, thinking who really cares what I had for lunch or what I'm cooking for dinner (which I've been surprised to learn that some tweeps in the storage community are interested in knowing more about good food). My naiveté about Twitter is a bit embarrassing to me now because I never really gave Twitter a chance or investigated it - I just assumed it wasn't worth my time.
Gerry's presentation was the first of several he did so it was really an introduction to Twitter. Gerry didn't get more than 10 minutes into his presentation when the light clicked on for me, I opened a browser window, and I joined Twitter. I wanted to share a bit of my learnings having now been on Twitter for a year. I'm using six reasons to use Twitter that Gerry had in his presentation:
- Monitor perceptions & true opinions: My Twitter client is TweetDeck. I just did an internal training yesterday talking about it. It's column-based views make it relatively easy for me to be out there watching for what people are saying about HP and HP StorageWorks. I have columns that are watching for conversations specific the business that I'm in - and when I see something of interest, I might either share it with my team or respond to it if appropriate.
- Opportunity for HP to respond or help: I've more than a few times had a channel partner or customer reach out to me looking for help. I'm not able to provide tech support, so don't start pinging me with support questions (HP Technology Services are the best place to get that help); but I've been able to get information to people looking for it. As I'm writing this, I got a request asking for the new plug-in we have for the EVA with VMware vCenter from @andymcm. I got the URL and sent it to him. He replied saying, "nice thanks for quick reply. This is going to go down great on Monday when we do vSphere upgrade". Last fall, I saw @SteveGoodman tweet that HP was coming to visit him and talk about HP LeftHand but he couldn't find what he wanted on hp.com. I saw that and sent him some information on hp.com; a couple of months later, I learned that Steve's company had bought the HP P4000 (LeftHand) SAN Solution and he has tweeted about how easy it is and other benefits he's seeing.
- Build relationships: I didn't get this part of Twitter when I first joined. I do now. I really started to get it when I attended VMworld in late August. I met @sfoskett, @storagenerve, @jtroyer, and @edsai. I talked a bit about this in my VMworld summary blog (and you'll see pictures with all of these guys at the VMworld Foreigner concert) - and don't miss the video of me called "Day in the Life of a Blogger" from VMworld. We've held two Tech Days - I've been blogging about the most recent one for the last two weeks. The most fun I have had at work over the last few years is these Tech Days; I love getting together with the community, hearing their input and helping them to understand more about HP
- Monitor competitors: A few of our competitors are on Twitter - I watch what they say as much as anyone else in the community. They'll often point to their blogs; if it makes sense for me or someone at HP to comment, we do. Twitter has given me pretty good insight into what competitors are doing and sometimes I've seen things on Twitter before they go out publicly (thank you @stevedupe). I'm of the view that most companies are in business because they do offer value and help customers solve problems. My goal isn't to "bash" competitors but enable conversations that help customers really understand our comparative strengths.
- Keep HP top of mind & in conversation: HP StorageWorks had no presence on Twitter before I started my account last year. @storagebod is very active on Twitter, has his own blog, and manages a lot of storage in the UK. I put out a tweet earlier today saying that I am celebrating one year on Twitter and his response was "Hey, it's been great to have you representing HP Storage...someone had to pick it up!" He also said this in a blog he wrote in December, "Calvin should take a bow, he's been doing a good job for you guys in the world of Social Media and boy did you need it." That's exactly why I jumped into Twitter - with both feet. We've got a long way to go and I by no means am running victory laps around the building but we've made great progress.
- Build the HP brand: I've worked at HP a long time (since 1983) and have always thought it's a great company. The HP brand has become more visible in recent years given the great success HP has had in the markets we participate in. But my goal in jumping into Twitter was to give more visibility to HP storage within the bigger HP brand. The main thing I orginally wanted to do on Twitter is to use it to alert people interested in storage about this blog. Before Twitter, this blog was in the 10 blogs on hp.com. I was working to have consistency and relevance in the posts (all important to driving a blog) but after joining Twitter and becoming part of the community, the blog rocketed to the #1 blog of all blogs on hp.com. It's been the #1 or 2 blog on hp.com since June 2009. @ChuckHollis, the "lonely storage guy" at HP is doing very well thank you very much! If you check out wefollow.com, you'll see that I'm nearly in the top 10 of storage influencers, #14 in virtualization, and #2 in HP. Needless to say, my experiment with Twitter is working.
If you are on Twitter and are interested in HP StorageWorks, please follow me! If you don't use Twitter, you really should consider it. And don't just follow me - follow our competitors, follow your favorite musicians, politicians (does anyone have favorites of those right now????), or whatever your interests are. I was surprised by the value I get from it - I think you would be too.
(Editor's note: I did some editing of this post on March 21, 2011 as it was published our old blog platform - I didn't change any content)