Archive for October, 2009

Social Capital: Top 5 “Do”s and “Don’t”s for buyout houses on Twitter

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

I was prompted by an interesting article by Erin Griffith at peHUB to return to a subject that interests me greatly. A little while back, I pondered on the slow uptake of social media amongst buyout houses. Some readers thought it nonsense that any kind of tweeting might bring dividends, whilst others saw some potential, if not the means to reach that potential, past the obstacles that clearly exist.

Well, my aim is not to reopen that particular debate. Private equity and venture capital firms, whether they like it or not, are under increasing regulatory, media and public scrutiny. Ultimately, they must make a choice: stay "closed" and simply watch, as public opinion (and the regulatory change that often follows) is formed without their input, or engage with regulators, the press and the public and influence that opinion.

Of course, some private equity types are already on Twitter, and I’ve collated a bunch in this list so that you can easily follow them, all at once. There is another list for venture capitalists, too.

Anyway, here are five things to avoid if you are working in private equity (I’ll put together a list of things to be encouraged soon):
Things to avoid:

  1. Don’t EVER tweet anything you wouldn’t say to a journalist holding a dictaphone
  2. Don’t set up an account in the name of your firm and expect people other than journalists to follow it. People like people, and they follow them, too
  3. Don’t limit your tweets exclusively to work activity. Although your followers are probably following you because of what you do, the occasional reference to show that you are human won’t hurt. @fredwilson is a VC with a good following (and a great blog) and he gets mad when the Jets lose. It’s not a problem!!
  4. Don’t forget that direct messages (syntax=d [username] [message]) will only be seen by the intended, named, recipient, @ replies that START with the @[username] formulation will be seen by the [username] you reference, those on Twitter that follow both you and that [username], AND anyone that visits your profile page at If you just want to reference someone in a message that you want the whole world to see, best start that message with something other than the @ sign. Mark Suster has a whole blog entry on the @ sign in tweets
  5. Don’t sign up to any extra services or (perish the thought) games that hook into your Twitter account without checking that they won’t send a tweet “on your behalf” inviting all of your potential business partners to join your mafia gang – some of them even send direct messages. A lot of people have lost a lot of credibility through their interaction with Mobster World and the direct messages it sends to their followers:

    Hey, I just added you to my Mafia family. You should accept my invitation! 🙂 Click here:


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