Inside Twitter tips from a Silicon Valley entrepreneur
People love and hate my friend Guy Kawasaki. Here are some of the least flattering blog posts, including Dear Guy Kawasaki, You Tweet Too Much; Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings; Andrew Goodman to Guy Kawasaki: You are Ruining Twitter! and others. Well, I stand by Guy.
While I am no Guy Kawasaki with only 44k followers (instead of 1.3 million), and I don’t have minions, Guy and I share our belief that in order to do business online, make money, build clout, grow influence and drive sales, we need to forget the top influencers and instead focus on everyone else. We need to believe that success is the best revenge, that the Twitterverse is a global series of nows, and that no matter how automated your system is, you need to answer your own Direct Messages and @replies.
Here’s some very helpful and powerful advice from Guy Kawasaki, much of it in his own words with some of my editorial commentary.
Treat your profile like the Twitter News Network
Too many people mistake Twitter as being geographically limited — and maybe it is. There are certainly people who only tweet for their own village and to their own friends. However, Twitter is not only global, for most of us, we only ever see what anyone writes when they dip a toe in occasionally. To quote Guy:
Think of @GuyKawasaki as a news feed ala CNN or the New York Times.
Forget the influentials
— Guy Kawasaki
You may know that I am a proponent of long-tail blogger outreach, a theory of outreach and engagement that pushes well past the few top influencers and deep into the democratic world of everyone else. Well, Guy has the same belief about not only reaching past the top influentials but actually bypassing them. In his words:
Reliance on influentials is flawed because the Internet has flattened and democratized information. Influentials don’t have as much special access, special knowledge, and distribution as you might think because of the growth of websites, blogs, and, of course, Twitter. If enough nobodies like what you do, the somebodies will have no choice but to write about you. In this way, the buzz of nobodies begets the attention of somebodies and not vice versa. The goal is to get to masses of people because you don’t know who can and will help you. (If you knew exactly who they were and what they can do for you, then you’d focus on them — then we’d be back to focusing on influentials — albeit less known ones.)
Get as many followers as you can
A few weeks ago I wrote The harsh reality of Twitter: Popularity counts — and Guy agrees with me and I with him. It all comes down to two things: the law of big numbers and you never know who can help you so penetration and impact are key. In Guy’s words, again:
The reason you want more followers is the law of big numbers: more followers means more people talking about what you do, and a better chance that you can reach the tipping point. If you think you “know” exactly who can and will help you, you are deluding yourself.
Don’t hold your followers hostage
I used to follow everyone back until I started buying into the rumors that Klout depended on certain proportions and ratios of followers to following. I was one of the first people who auto-followed-back. After exploring recently, Debbie Weil‘s Twitter List of top DC twitter influencers, I realized that there are quite a few people who do the same. Guy explains why beautifully, and it basically has to do with being neighborly; it’s a Twitter way of knowing each other by name, if you will:
I follow everyone for two reasons: first, common courtesy; second, so that anyone can send a Direct to me. I like Direct messages because they are so much more efficient than email.
Repeat your tweets
If you take Twitter to a level past flirting and being witty and keeping up with your friends — if you’re trying to make a living with Twitter — then you need to be persistent and come to terms with something unique about Twitter: Twitter’s Buddhist! It’s a river of news into which you can never step into the same river twice! So, you need to think about repeating tweets to cover at least the UK, East Coast, Central, Mountain, West Coast, Hawaii, and Australia — the English-speaking world. And there’s a lot of crossover, but you really are leaving behind 2/3rds to 3/4th of all of your coverage if you don’t repeat your tweets — and since Twitter doesn’t allow us to repost the same tweet more than once, you need to get creative.
Here’s more wisdom from Guy:
My tweets are repeated 4 times to reach all timezones.
I repeat my tweets because I don’t assume that all my followers are reading me 24/7 x 365. This is the same reason that ESPN and CNN repeat the same news stories (without updates, simply identical reports) throughout the day. I’ve examined the click-through patterns on repeat tweets, and each one gets about the same amount of traffic. If I tweeted stories only once, I would lose 75% of the traffic that I could get.
Tweets linking to the posts at Holy Kaw are repeated four times, eight hours apart. Many people have asked me about this practice—and seldom in a unemotional way. The reason that I do this is that few people monitor Twitter all day, so if one tweets something once, people are highly unlikely to see it if they aren’t constantly online or follow very few people. I picked eight hours because this means that even if the first tweet goes out at the worst times for traffic, one of the repeats will hit the best times (7:00 am to 10:00 am Pacific or 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Pacific). For example, a first tweet at 3:00 am Pacific then hits 11:00 am Pacific and 7:00 pm Pacific. If I follow common wisdom, I would have tweeted it once and lost 1,200 clicks — that’s the bottom line. Having said this, if you hate the repeat tweets because you are online a lot (could the problem be that you’re on Twitter too much and not that I repeat tweets?)
Don’t get sandbagged
It is impossible to read all of the people you follow after a while, especially if you’re willing to follow-back and build any amount of steam at all. I am “only” following 11.3k folks while Guy is following almost 300k back! It’s impossible to follow. I try to follow lists and so forth but, like Guy says, it basically comes down to keeping strict track of your Direct Messages and @Replies:
I don’t read the timelines of all the people that I follow. Instead, I only deal with @s, Directs, and tweets that contain “guykawasaki” and “alltop.” I am not reading everything everyone I follow tweets, but I answer almost every @ and Direct.
I don’t use ghostwriters right now but I did when I had interns and a staff when I ran Abraham Harrison, back in the day. However, if you’re running a business partially on the back of your Twitter profile or profiles, you’re going to need to treat your Twitter canvas like Rembrandt, who was known to paint canvases using ghostpainters. He was the architect, the visionary and author, but he also used protégés to help him keep up with his vision and workload. Same goes with Guy:
I use ghostwriters because I want to provide as many interesting links as possible, and the more intelligent people looking for interesting stuff the more we will find.
Part of covering all of your time zones and when you’re asleep is queuing up the best content you have for when you’re doing other things. I use Buffer a lot for news and content I troll through Flipboard and Feedly — I collect in the morning, noon, and at night — or when I am waiting around — and I queue it up onto Buffer. One caveat, though: my queue is pretty long so I only Buffer content that can sit around for a month before it posts. I “send to Twitter” if it’s a current news item. When it comes to evergreen tweets, I will bulk upload content into SocialOomph or HootSuite. I also often visit my own posts and put them back into the Buffer queue or post directly — though that’s more organic for me.
Auto-tweet all posts from your blogs
I personally have all of my blogs linked into my Chris Abraham GaggleAMP gaggle — so every time anyone posts anything from me, it’ll automagically be distributed to my Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin as well as those of 428 other members of my GaggleAMP gaggle. When it comes to tweeting across time zones and all that, I tend to post the same article over a few days or weeks on Socialmedia.biz, the Biznology blog, Business 2 Community, and my own blog, Because the Medium is the Message.
Answer your own Directs and @s
You can really do anything you want as long as you slow down long enough to sign autographs, shake hands, sign baseballs and jerseys, and have pictures taken of you. No matter what you do, answer your own @s and respond to your Directs and be sure to thank people profusely for tweets and retweets!
At the end of the day, you can’t make everyone happy. Twitter may well be treated as a broadcast medium but it is 100% opt-in, therefore there is no such thing as “spamming Twitter” since stopping it is as easy as getting it. Each person followed Guy and I of their own free will, so stopping it is as easy as unfollowing, too. Words according to Guy:
You can UFM (unfollow me). The economic and philosophical model remains: we find good stuff, we ask that you “pay” us for this effort with a page view. If you can find good stuff without us and think that our “fee” is too high, UFM and have a happy rest of your life.
More words, according to Guy, on this:
Some people will disagree with this use of Twitter. Don’t let this worry you because at some point everyone pisses off someone on Twitter. Therefore, letting a vocal few limit your use of Twitter is a big mistake. If they don’t like what you’re doing, tell them to stop following you: end of discussion. And rest assured that “Twitter spam” is an oxymoron because following you is completely opt-in.
While Guy doesn’t talk about doing this, my hero John C. Dvorak, from the best podcast in the universe, No Agenda, blocks anyone on Twitter who trolls, snipes, attacks, disses, Bozos or rudeboys him — and I do the same. And they disappear. So, over time, Twitter becomes more and more enjoyable for both of you: when you block someone, you don’t see them anymore and, more importantly, they get kicked off of following you, too. So, if they think you’re flooding their wall, a good block will take care of all of that.
Good luck and I hope this is pretty useful! And, if you’re foaming at the mouth, rabid and indignant, you’re welcome to your opinion. Please feel free to comment or engage me on Twitter; however, be real nice because I am more than happy to block first and ask questions later. There are way too many lovers, friends, and allies on Twitter in my happy world to suffer haters, and trolls. If you’re wondering where the line is, however, just ask yourself: