The first #smcakl of 2011 kicked off with a bang, by going straight to the top of the corporate ladder with the topic ‘CEOs Who Tweet’. The venue was the stylish Koru-Lounge-styled hideaway in the fancy smancy new Telecom/Gen-i building, thanks to the top billing Chris Quin from Gen-i.

There was a huge turnout with lots of new faces, sprinkled with many old favourites. And young favourites. And a few others. I was surprised and delighted to find pinot noir on offer (!!), while many others took advantage of the other beverages kindly supplied by Monteiths.

Twitpic as posted by @TelecomNZ, featuring @audaciousgloop, @adagebusiness, @jofajafa and some bloke in a pink shirt. (Note: @rgoodchild is slightly to the right of this photo).

The MC for the evening Chris Macdonald (@digitalmacdonal) warmed up the crowd and introduced the first speaker Alistair Helm (@alistairnz) CEO of

Alistair tweets from his personal Twitter account which he started about 3 years ago, but then picked it up again more recently and is using for his business He kicked off with a controversial statement that he does not follow back his followers and pays little attention to them – surely breaking the first rule of social media? A quick glance at his Twitter timeline shows the setting is mostly stuck on broadcast, with a good measure of mutual retweeting from other property related twitter accounts thrown in. Alistair blogs as well (‘hundreds of posts’) and emphasised the commitment required to tweet and blog – Al, you are preaching to the converted!

Alistair uses Twitter search extensively to hunt out tweets and content with his key words and then shares these with his followers. Tip: if you are selling your house, tweet him as he will list it on for you.

Next up to the plate was Chris Quin (@chrisjquin) CEO of @Geni_ICT who is also a bit of a petrolhead on the side. Chris started tweeting ‘sometime between XT and Canterbury earthquake’ which were the key markers in what was probably a somewhat forgettable 2010 year. He takes an open and transparent approach to tweeting – vital in social media. During network issues or a crisis his advice was that its better to give the truth than to cover up behind corporate speak – your followers will see right through anything that is not genuine and authentic. This will build trust with your followers, many of who are customers.

Chris also shared stories of when the Christchurch earthquake occurred – major events will always have an impact on Gen-i whether it be on customers, staff or infrastructure. He was up at 5am at home, sitting with 2 laptops, one running through the Twitter stream to get a feel of what was happening on the ground in Christchurch, and the other with his corporate email open getting updates from the Telecom/Gen-i teams who were activating crisis plans. It was interesting to hear how the CEO of a major ICT company is using social media in a crisis to get real time information from Twitter – this is becoming an emerging trend over traditional media sources. Chris views Twitter as a communications tool and not a marketing tool, which shows he gets social media! Be yourself and only tweet when you have something to say, or ‘all killer no filler’ as @vaughndavis would say. More on the famous Goat Farmer later.

Chris also advised not to ‘drink and tweet’ – very wise words! He chats and tweets to several journalists and the unspoken code is that anything on the public timeline is on the record, anything sent via DM is off the record. Good to know for those of you dealing with the media!

After his talk and Q&A from the floor, the Windows 7 phone was given away to a lucky punter, then Vaughn Davis gave away a hard copy of his bestselling free book ‘Tweet This Book’ to celebrate the launch of his new agency @The_Goat_Farm. Here he is with the lovely Bhavika Rambhai (@bhavika_rambhai) who was the delighted winner.

As always the back channel was alive with random comments about the temperature, the fashion (or lack of it), stalking and hilarious quips.

Twitpic snapped by @rogben of the eyeball bleeding and yet striking orange shirts worn by @communico and @vaughndavis

Thank you to Justin Flitter and the team at #smcakl for a great evening and excellent start to the 2011 #smcakl series (first Tuesday of each month). Join the Facebook group so you don’t miss any future events. See you at the next one!

PS – here is the video of Chris Quin on the Gen-i Youtube channel