Picture of a Dog and Twitter

Twitter, As We Knew It, Is Dead: The 7 New Dependable Ways to Use Twitter

by sscheper on March 12, 2010

Why should you read this chapter?

Today, more than ever before, we’re presented with new web apps and tools that promise to help get things done. The truth is, they do the exact opposite.

In the chapter below we’ll learn how to truly leverage Twitter for results. This will allow you to focus more on things that matter; instead of spending time on something that simply wastes your time.

In an age of distraction, this skill is critical to reaching the freedom and dreams you desire.

I think it’s time that we again ask ourselves the question we’ve always been asking, what is Twitter? Or more, what has Twitter become?

Just like the web, twitter has undergone a profound transition.

Whereas web 1.0 was about publishing static web content, web 2.0 arose and centered on dynamic, social content. So, too, is Twitter’s recent transition.

Twitter started as a nifty little experience for sharing small details about your life (Twitter 1.0). This included people saying things like, “I’m eating a hot dog right now.”

Now, we’re seeing changes. Changes that are showing up right in front of us. Instead of “Sharing,” we’re “Tweeting”. Instead of the question, “What are you doing right now?” it’s replaced with “What’s happening?”

Slowly, and perhaps painfully for the founders, Twitter has turned into something else. Twitter has transformed into story sharing and link-sharing with a social twist. It’s transitioned from a place of primary sharing and interacting, to place filled with brands, links and ads. Instead of real-time conversations, we’re seeing a stream of real-time affiliate links.

Twitter has transformed into a place where people primarily do three things:

  1. A place where entrepreneurs/bloggers/freelancers share links
  2. A place where celebrities write when they’re drunk or bored
  3. A place where brands go to prove that they’re ahead-of-the-curve

This is Twitter 2.0 — welcome.

So how does one leverage this new form of Twitter to get the most out of it–in the least amount of time? Read on.

Understanding Twitter 2.0

Many get sucked into the hype machine and dive into Twitter without understanding its purpose. After a certain period of time, most fall into two camps: (i) either they never use it again, or (ii) they continually use it without understanding why they’re using it.

There’s an interesting concept in psychology that is on the rise today, more than ever before: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

This concept is outlined in a fantastic book on Focus, Find Your Focus Zone, in which the the author, Lucy Jo Palladino, suggests that people are absolutely freaked out about missing the action. People are constantly afraid of being left out.

So, too is this concept within Twitter.

As Kathy Sierra points out, “Ironically, services like Twitter are simultaneously leaving some people with a feeling of not being connected, by feeding the fear of not being in the loop. By elevating the importance of being “constantly updated,” it amplifies the feeling of missing something if you’re not checking Twitter (or Twittering) with enough frequency.”

The Magic Bullet Secret To Getting 17 million followers in 3 hours!

(kidding)

If you glance at the top most-followed people on Twitter, you’ll ask yourself, what’s the secret? How’d they get there? What’s the magic bullet for getting more followers?

It’s simple: Be Shaq.

Yes, be a celebrity. You’ll notice that the most-followed people on Twitter already have a community offline. They’re movie stars, famous news anchors, musicians and pro athletes.

You’re not going to build a massive following by having a cool, magic bullet twitter strategy. Such ideas are short-term solutions. Typically followed up with massive un-follows, and in some cases, even getting banned from Twitter.

Here’s how the typical magic bullet Twitter follower software works

Simply write a program using Twitter’s API (application programing interface), and then follow a ton of people. Message them, and have the program interact with them. Once this is done, they’ll follow you. And then after a month or so, you un-follow them.

This is the strategy I once took on for an account, but have since abandoned it–because I didn’t get any value out of it.

After a certain point I had to ask myself, why I was trying to game a system. Why I wanted to get more followers. And really, the answer never came. So I decided to purge my account, and start fresh and new with a long-term value-driven strategy. A strategy that didn’t suck time out of my day; but instead, added value to my day.

The 7 New Dependable Ways to Use Twitter

Below is the 7 step indisputable method for leveraging Twitter in a focused, effective manner. A way in which results in sharing valuable information with a close set of followers.

1. Don’t read any other guide to getting productive on Twitter

Challenge me. Every other guide on the net that preaches how to use Twitter in a more productive, focused manner only adds to the confusion. The tools that you’ll see within Twitter only do one thing: they insist upon themselves. They’ll add to the confusing mess that Twitter already is. Here’s a sample of the tools you’ll find in these guides:

Sample Fluff Apps:

  • TweeCalendar: Just sign up for TweeCalendar and you can Tweet appointments to your Google Calendar! You’ll send your followers info they don’t care about at all, and you’ll probably forget the calendar!
  • TweeWeather: Set up weather alerts using Twitter! You’ll know when to not get out of your mother’s basement, and go outside!
  • FlightTweets: Get tweets about your upcoming flight! The flight you’ll miss because you were busy tweeting
  • TweeDo Lists: Write to-do lists via Twitter, annoy your followers, and get nothing done!

By all means, avoid these guides, and avoid these tools.

2. Avoid Twitter clients

Seesmic and Tweetdeck are good for two purposes: (i) Power-users, and (ii) Pissing on time.

I only recommend using Tweetdeck or Seesmic if you’re in the PR/Marketing field. If not, then don’t use it.

3. Don’t market yourself within Twitter

Don’t market yourself within Twitter; market yourself outside of Twitter. Do this by putting a link to your Twitter profile within various communities in which you interract:

  • Facebook Profile
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Your Blog
  • Your Portfolio Website
  • Your Email Signature
  • (and any other site where you’re building a community)

4. Share valuable information without trying — schedule tweets

This is easily the most overlooked, and under-implemented tool within Twitter. As outlined above, over the past two years, Twitter has undergone a slow transition from a “What are you doing now” service to a “What news can you share?”

Within the era of Twitter 2.0, the question is not, “What can this person tell me that they’re doing.” Instead, it’s “What valuable information can this person give me?”

In order to share valuable information, the key is to not try. And more, make it a habit.

What I mean by “not trying” is that instead of manually blasting out awesome news stories everyday; instead, adopt an automated tweet scheduling tool that allows you to bookmark valuable links, and then schedule them over a period of time.

A couple services allow you to do this:

The one I use personally, and the one I recommend is Sharefeed. I recommend this one due to its simplicity, and effectiveness.

5. Respond and cultivate your community

Just like the secret and critical method for building a community on any blog, so too is the concept of building on Twitter. Twitter is really just an extension of your community on a different service. For this reason, it becomes critical to respond to each person that @replies you.

6. Only follow people that provide valuable information

This is one of, if not the most, critical elements in using Twitter. The foundation of twitter centers on what industry researchers call, “The Network Effect.” This holds that the experience drawn from Twitter is in direct correlation with who you follow. You are your environment. If you follow spammers, then you’ll think of Twitter as a place for spammers.

7. Check Twitter 3-4 times per day at most

In a later chapter we’ll discuss the concept of email batching or email crunching. This is the concept of chunking your emails into short, intensive sessions only a couple times per day.

For me, I recommend starting at four times per day, then bringing it down to three times per day, and finally getting it down to twice per day.

An extension of this crunch period should be your Tweet checking. Don’t check Twitter constantly throughout the day; instead, chunk it into infrequent, short sessions.

Conclusion:

The 7  steps outlined above will allow you to get the most out of Twitter, in the least amount of time and give your community actual valuable information.

To summarize, Twitter has undergone a shift from sharing Haiku-style details about ourselves (i.e. “I’m eating a hot dog right now”) to a place for brands, links and affiliates. In order to get the most out of this era of Twitter, I recommend following six steps:

1. Be weary of tools that preach that they allow you to be more effective
2. Don’t use Seesmic or Tweedeck, or any other client
3. Market yourself outside of Twitter; not within Twitter
4. Share Valuable Information Without Trying (scheduling tweets)
5. Respond and cultivate your community
6. Only follow people that provide valuable information
7. Implement Twitter Batching


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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Rowe March 15, 2010 at 12:35 am

This is right on the money and exactly parallels the experience that I have had. Glad you put the links to ShareFeed et al in there since I’ve been looking for a tool to do exactly that.

After reading this I think I’ll re-engage with Twitter with a much more focused approach.

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Andreas Rilinger March 15, 2010 at 4:57 am

Thats a great article about using twitter in a good way. Quality over Quantitiy. Loved reading it. Follow you on twitter now.

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Dana March 15, 2010 at 6:22 am

I disagree with you regarding the use of clients. I swear by Tweetdeck! I love the organizational features as well as its integration with my linkedIn and Facebook feeds. I like having it PUSH the updates to me. Using Twitter via the web – ESPECIALLY when I follow more than 100 people is really cumbersome to me.

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chanux March 15, 2010 at 6:56 am

I personally don’t like automating tweets. I do that, really VERY rarely.

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Scott March 15, 2010 at 7:06 am

@Gary — No problem. Glad you like it! Definitely ease into it, and follow the steps above closely. We are very dopamine driven beings and can easily get distracted when jumping back into Twitter. Also, I’ll be uploading a video in a post this week on how I leverage Twitter for knowledge.

@andreas — Thanks. Appreciate it! Feel free to add any feedback, ideas or future chapters when you get a chance.

@Dana — Haha, actually I recommend Tweetdeck, as well, if you’re a power tweeter and need to leverage Twitter for work. The strategy above works for me because I recommend being very selective in who you follow.

@Chanux — Yea, there are pro’s/cons for both sides. But when you’re allocating your time to offline activities, I definitely think automating your online activities becomes very feasible.

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Jared Earle March 15, 2010 at 7:12 am

Wait, whuhwhat?

No, I don’t think so. This is a guide on how to use Twitter like you. I am the atheist to your one-guide way. You’re almost there, but I believe in using one less guide than you.

There’s nothing wrong with checking Twitter more than a dozen times a day, just like there’s nothing wrong with following someone’s useless pet cat, or a Big Ben twitter feed – although arguably that could be described as useful.

Follow those who are looking for the truth; block those who claim to have found it.

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Tara March 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Ho! My thoughts exactly, Jared! As you so aptly put it, “This is a guide on how to use Twitter like you. I am the atheist to your one-guide way.”

Some of his ideas are true for me, but I have a different relationship and need from Twitter. I am growing my following, with intention. My Twitter site is interactive with my growing list of followers who find my current quotes relevant throughout the day…that could be quotes by any number of news pundits, celebrities, etc….what’s ever in Today’s News! If I only dipped into my Twitter a few times a day, my followers would miss out on many gems as they occur in real life, so the recommended 7 steps are not really relevant to me…everyone should be free to use Twitter in the way that works for them, including indulging in reading the feed of pet cat Tweeters, if that’s your bag!

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Scott March 15, 2010 at 7:20 am

@Jared — Thanks for your feedback. You definitely have an argument there. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with the way in which someone uses technology to help them. I state in the Forward of this book that “I am only helping people that want to help themselves with tools that have helped me.”

This, too, is the case for this chapter.

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Sloan March 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

Great post Scott. I have my own personal account in addition to managing the account for my organization and I’m a firm believer in the less-is-more strategy. I think far too many businesses (and regular folks) get into Twitter with unreasonable expectations. Twitter for us has been a lousy tool for driving traffic to our website, but turns out to be invaluable in getting the attention of local print and television media. So we spend less time tweeting about every great thing on our site and instead focus on posting quality mini-releases and interacting with customers tweeting about what we do.

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Scott March 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm

@sloan — Completely agree. Twitter is really an SEO extension, an extension of community building, and an extension of interacting and giving support to your customers. If people think the purpose of Twitter is to drive conversions, they’ll be let down.

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Tee Morris March 15, 2010 at 11:41 am

Hi, Scott.

This column, sent to me by a friend of mine on Twitter actually, I believe is part of Social Media (not just Twitter’s) growing pains. In a January 1st blogpost I had said that Social Media will be growing up this year. I agree that right now, the Twitter of 2010 is far from the warm, fuzzy Twitter of 2007 (when I joined). I’ve watched the self-appointed “gurus” switch their title to read as “expert” to now read as “evangelist” and I’ve watched MLM join the alphabet soup of other buzz terms like SEO, SMM, BLT, STFU, and ELO. (I love their Greatest Hits!) Seriously though, I agree that there are fewer people joining Twitter and those that do are either told they have to, are doing so for work, or are trying to be hip…and none of the above have a clue what they’re doing.

However, being the author of two books on Twitter, I still believe that you can avoid a lot of these pitfalls by approaching Twitter from a practical perspective. First, when the Social Media messiahs claim “Follow everyone who follows you…” stop and ask “Why?” There are plenty I do not follow back, even more I block. I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone nor would I converse with people that only quotes others or continuously promote their crap. Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you, is my mantra. Second, if you are in Twitter for the numbers, then please stop. Twitter isn’t about numbers but about people. I’m having to explain that at my day job, and slowly they’re getting that…but that isn’t easy. Social Media shouldn’t be about the numbers. It should be about the user-generated content. It should be about your voice within the Community. Finally, find methods that work best for you. I agree with some things you say here; but I will argue that TweetDeck, both for the desktop and iPhone, are powerful tools for the individual, on a number of levels. I would also argue that you can market yourself and your business in Twitter…but if that is the ONLY thing you do, then yeah, it’s time for an Intervention with a 2×4. (See my mantra above.) Next, Twitter can be simple, goofy fun. @NathanFillion and @real_jackbauer do not really have tweets I would consider “valuable”…but funny? Oh heck yeah. Finally, I would tell people “It’s Twitter. Don’t check your brain at the door and remember that some things are better left unsaid.” Services like foursquare drive me nuts because people are sharing sensitive information without thinking. If you are about to tweet your thoughts or location, imagine doing it in a crowded room of strangers. If that makes you uncomfortable, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t tweet it.

Twitter is what you make of it, and I still believe in it as I did at the end of 2007. I have watched it change, for better and for worse; and I believe that this will be a crucial year when people will start using Twitter more for Community than commerce. It’s taken me years to develop my Community, and I like to think my circles on Twitter are about the signal and not the noise.

This was a terrific article, Scott. Thanks, man.

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Scott March 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Tee — Wow, thank you very much for the in-depth comment. I really appreciate the time you took to write that.

When you speak of “evangelist,” I know a couple people that come to mind, haha ;-) It’s absolutely stunning how many people enter Twitter without a plan, or without an idea of how to use it. Using Twitter in a focused, purposeful manner outlined above is a starting point that I really hope helps people.

I completely agree regarding privacy. People are disclosing way too much about themselves online. And usually, nobody listens–but if they do, they’re usually the people that you don’t want listening to your thoughts.

With the two examples that you outlined, would you mind if I used those steps and feedback in the chapter above?

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Tee Morris March 16, 2010 at 6:17 am

Not at all. Only if you don’t mind me covering this column in an upcoming Bird House Rules.

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Scott March 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

Sounds good, Tee

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Mark Nutter March 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for stating #6. I couldn’t agree more and have been preaching this for years. The value of Twitter comes from the fact that you choose who you follow. Not to mention, I’m building a Twitter based link gathering application that relies very heavily on the assumption that people only follow who they’re actually interested in. If you want to try it out, let me know (@marknutter).

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Scott March 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Mark — No prob. Just stating what I’ve found to be effective. Sure, let me know the next step for your link app. Would love to see if it engenders a more focused, purposeful Twitter experience.

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Katherine Govier March 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Puts in words what I have noticed, even as a 6-month twitter user.

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Scott March 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

Thanks, Katherine. Only preaching what I’ve found in my own case!

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Rece Book March 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

This article explains how I got where I am on Twitter. I follow almost 1900 people & I’m followed by almost 830. I learned that following people will (most of the time) get you followed back. This wasn’t a planned strategy or anything, it just happened in the course of 11 months. People always ask me why I enjoy Twitter so much but its simple, because my timeline is always very active & entertaining, as well as my replies & updates. All 7 points made in the article were if not thought about (i.e. scheduling tweets) were most likely already executed on my account. Great article Scott!

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Scott March 18, 2010 at 7:59 am

Rece — Yep; it’s definitely simple to build fast like that. I did that once; however, I decided to create and account, start from scratch and then build value.

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Derek March 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I like your focus on valuable information. However valuable information is something of a subjective matter. News about your daughter’s graduation may be valuable to your close friends, but probably not so much to your business clients or professional circle. For this reason I suggest a good Twitter strategy is to maintain more than one account – with each account aimed at a well defined audience.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Derek — Yea, you’re right about that when it comes to establishing a brand. It’s critical to decide what your brand is, though. Is your brand you, or your company? Sometimes its better to brand your company, other times, it’s better to brand yourself. You bring up a good point. Thanks for the comment.

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rscudder March 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Hi. I think this gives a lot to think about. I am please to hear that other people do follower purges and block- If some one is spewing out what I would consider junk mail, I have no desire to have them follow me, and there is no chance I will follow them.

Some of the most fun I’ve had on twitter was running conversations with several people- which happens serendipitously, but is a nice way to eat up 45 minutes or so in a hurry- and get some interesting ideas. That is not something that can be scheduled, and may not happen often if you restrict your twitter interaction to two specific times a day. On the other hand, I go days without getting on twitter because I am busy with other things, and I still manage to get the occasional conversation in.

Using lists
I also use twitter- when I am there- in another way. Particularly because I am erratic about getting on, I have put the people I find most interesting into lists, which cut down the number of tweets to look through. Then, in a list on a topic that interests me, I look through the tweets and harvest interesting links into multiple tabs across my browser. I have found a lot of interesting information that way- and without a slavish devotion to checking who has just posted on twitter each hour. I go across the browser and check each link- close the ones that really are not for me, and read through the rest. That’s actually how I found this post of yours.
thanks :)
Rebecca

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Rebecca — Thanks for the insightful comment! Honestly, I haven’t really put the “list” function to use yet because I’m very careful about who I follow. I imagine that at a certain point, a list is going to be critical to sourcing valuable knowledge and stories from Twitter. Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate it very much!

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Missy March 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I’m with you on most of your article. Twitter is way different than most originally perceived it.

Really surprised though at your list of tweet schedulers. Um…you forgot what most consider to be the best app. Twaitter (http://twaitter.com) . They do everything that CoTweet does but their scheduling is top notch.

Off to follow the 7 rules.

Missy

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Thanks, Missy! I definitely don’t plan to know it all. Just preach what I’ve found works for others, as well as myself. Twaitter is new to me. I’ll check it out now and add it to the list. Thanks.

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Dubai-Boy March 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm

well done, Scott! and I thought u were just another surfer dude! ;)

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Haha, what’s that supposed to mean? I was an awesome skater back in the day… But when I tried to surf, I just sank.

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Phyllis Cheung March 21, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Thank you for the great article! I am guilty of being on twitter about 3 days a week – but it does drive very targeted traffic to my site when I am on twitter. The other 4 days, I do see a significant drop in traffic when I’m not tweeting and working on other things.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

That’s awesome, Phyllis. Glad Twitter works for you in driving traffic. In my case, I use Twitter as an extension of my community (i.e. my readers and people that have any general questions–not pertinent to a specific chapter/post).

I like your site! Really interesting. Wish I knew about it before my wedding last year.

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Karen Clark March 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I agree with it all. I was against scheduling tweets until I realized that if you want to be on Twitter and have something meaningful to add to the stream, it is very helpful and a service to your readers. If I am going on Twitter four times a day, I certainly cannot guarantee that I will have anything brilliant, useful or inspirational to say each of those 4 times, 7 days a week. So instead my followers get random useless stuff I say just so they know I’m alive. By scheduling SOME things – helpful resources, a blog link, an inspirational quote – my followers are more likely to benefit from following me. I will still check for replies throughout the day and always answer them back, and will do live tweeting in addition to the scheduled. But I’m a convert – when used sparingly!

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Awesome, Karen. Hope it helps you out! Yea, I’ve noticed that sending followers valuable links that you find insightful beats any other short-cut or Twitter How-To strategy out there. By helping other people, you’ll end up gathering a close, dedicated following.

Anyways, thanks again, Karen for your comment. Appreciate it.

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Ted L Simon March 22, 2010 at 12:31 am

Scott,
You’ve outlined a very simple, common sensical approach to Twitter. And, I tend to agree that information sharing is really where it’s at on Twitter (although I’ve occasionally lapsed into a rant or rhapsody on the progress of the NCAA tournament…can’t help myself).

I’ve found that I’m well served if I keep in mind how I create and maintain relationships/communities outside my insulated computer and smartphone screens. I then try to apply similar principles to Twitter (or other social networks). Example: I sure wouldn’t want to be friends with everyone I run into in the “real world,” so why should I feel differently about the virtual world?

In reading through all these comments (some great builds, people!) I take away another important point: these are PRINCIPLES, NOT RULES. Or, at least that’s how I view them. It’s great to have some basic guidelines to work from. But, we all have different objectives and goals, ways of working, etc., so adaptations may be appropriate on an individual basis. And, this is such a rapidly evolving phenomenon that today’s principles can become tomorrow’s old news.

That doesn’t make what you’ve said “wrong.” Quite the contrary, I feel your points are both valid and valuable. It just frames the issue and puts the whole thing in the right context…for me, at least.

Based on this chapter, I’m looking forward to reading more of your book. And, I’m sure you won’t mind if I share this on Twitter. Heaven knows we ALL could use a little more of that focus thing! :-)

Cheers,
Ted

Follow me @tedlsimon

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm

“In reading through all these comments (some great builds, people!) I take away another important point: these are PRINCIPLES, NOT RULES. Or, at least that’s how I view them.”

Ted — You’re absolutely right. I state in the “Forward” of this book/blog that I’m only trying to help others with tools that have helped me. This isn’t the only way, it’s just a way that worked for me. Hopefully it helps you out, and adds at least one new tool to your bag.

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DW Ferrell March 22, 2010 at 1:30 am

Some good points here. Tips 5 and 6 really resonated with me.

I was especially challenged by the last one (7), as I’m currently letting email and twitter interrupt my day incrementally, rather than giving it a small amount of focused time. Tip 7 is going to take some retraining, but I’ve done it before. When I was focusing on developing a patent last year I went on a year long “media fast.” I cut out most passive media (tv, movies, magazines, etc.) and only engaged in relational media (email, phone, Facebook, and face-to-face time). I didn’t even touch video games. It was mind-cleansing, like a colonic for my head. OK, that’s a bit graphic, but you get the idea. By cutting out 80% of useless input I was able to reverse the flow and focus on output. It was like a faucet turned on as I wrote and had the mental space to think critically about my own thoughts. I highly recommend it! I was able to complete a complex patent, launch several business projects, clarify my goals in life, and start writing a new book. It was pretty ironic that I was living in Hollywood at the time, with all its attention-depleting flurry.

On another note, I coached authors on two separate books this last year (I’m a self-publishing coach) and one focused carefully on the strategy I laid out, while the other was unfocused. It was like a laser (highly focused) compared to a shotgun (all over the place). The unfocused writer still hasn’t completed their book and has wasted a lot of money on fruitless efforts. In comparison, the other book enjoyed a successful launch and the strategy resulted in a ton of good press, thanks to focusing.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:45 pm

DW Ferrell — Wow, thank you very much for sharing that. I’ve tried a variety of experiments and strategies much like the one you’ve outlined (ditching distractions and focusing on outputs). It’s in those times when I’m best able to create. Yet, I constantly need reminders on where my focus should be–especially because we constantly face distraction. Anyways, I would love to hear more about what you do, and what strategies you have for aspiring authors (such as myself). Thanks again for the comment. Appreciate it very much.

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Lorand R. Minyo March 22, 2010 at 5:58 am

As a guy that works in marketing and PR and using TweetDeck every day for obvious purposes I couldn’t but have noticed you misspelled Seesmic twice. It’s indeed a “seismic” app but I’m quite sure Loic LeMeur will appreciate a correction.

Other than that I have to disagree with you on the use of Twitter clients. The Twitter web interface itself is quite clean but as far as usability goes even for a regular user it’s quite hard to follow the conversation, especially if you check it three times a day as you suggest.

A more straightforward app for regular users that need to interact just a bit every day and mostly follow the news is Seesmic Look. Give it a try, you’ll love it.

Powerusers should stick to either TweetDeck, Seesmic or CoTweet – best tools I’ve worked with so far.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for the typo tip, Lorand. That’s why I’m writing this as an online book, heh. Also, noticed it was spelled wrong three times. My bad. Shows how often I use Seesmic. In the chapter I wrote that if your job is in social media/marketing/pr, using a client is obviously OK. Also, I found “Look” interesting, but also a textbook exhibit of what a distraction “looks” like. Thanks for the input, though. Appreciate the typo feedback!

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Monica March 22, 2010 at 5:58 am

I agree whole-heartedly that the “less is more” approach is better to gaining Followers. Yes, it’s a blow to the ego to have fewer Followers than others when you are just starting, but it is better to have real Followers than faux Spammers brought to you by a “build Followers fast” engine.
- Monica
http://www.twitter.com/marketingandcom

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Completely agreed, Monica. I had to learn that the hard way.

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Cindy Bruce March 22, 2010 at 6:06 am

Great post Scott;

I recently read an article by one of those evangelist which basically said if you don’t have thousands of followers and act just like me you shouldn’t be on Twitter and you shouldn’t call yourself a Social Media expert.

It was very disappointing that he/she stated this and I instantly lost the awe of his/her fame and expert status. For 13 months being on Twitter and others for my personal and business use have decided just as you say – I follow for the value and the relationship I have or hope to build with that person.

My follow/following numbers are small and I intend to keep them that way – regardless of what the “experts” say because it works for me.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Cindy — I’m there with ya. I had/have an account which I used the tactics of building a mass list of followers, yet I also followed a bunch of random people. This annihilated my Twitter experience, thus I decided to scratch it all, start fresh, and start with value. A low-quantity following that knows who you are, and more importantly, why they’re following you, is much more important than a bunch of rando’s.

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Ted Rex March 22, 2010 at 6:15 am

Great post. You nicely capture the subtle changes — and our rationalization about their benefits — going on in our digital world.

I featured this as one of the three links for the day on my Design Thought blog:
http://designthoughtfortheday.blogspot.com/2010/03/03-22-twitter-is-dead-client-love-kill.html

All the best, Ted

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Thanks, Ted. Appreciate it. Just checked out your blog. Thanks for the mention.

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AnnaLaura Brown March 22, 2010 at 6:17 am

Great tips. I am trying to do many of these, although I still learned something from this.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Awesome, AnnaLaura. Hope the tips help you out! It’s definitely a slow progression to get to that point, but hopefully embracing a more focused, goal-centered approach will allow you to get more out of Twitter.

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Tawheed Kader March 22, 2010 at 7:07 am

I think there are going to be newer and better tools that help people actually have meaningful conversations..

Over at BrainTrust.io, we’re thinking hard about how to create private group environments that can help people connect, share and actually have conversations that help them achieve something meaningful.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Thanks, Tawheed. I’ll look into it now.

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Tom March 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

I’m sad no one else has pointed out “What are you dong right now?”

Come on. That’s a funny typo. Dong.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Haha. Awesome catch, Tom. I was contemplating leaving it in there because it’s classic. But had to edit it… Anyways, thanks for pointing that out.

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Liam Hughes March 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

Scott, right on the money on several counts, and a really well-written post. Just found your blog (through Twitter of course) and look forward to exploring a bit more!

As others have mentioned, I think it is very easy for people to get obsessed with the pursuit of big numbers and constant updates, which just leaves them feeling deflated when the followers come slowly and the updating loses momentum! I think it is all about going in with a clear plan and setting the expectation early on in terms of how often you tweet/engage.

In terms of the larger transition you speak of, I am personally getting much more out of Twitter these days, as I previously found it difficult to engage with the more trivial “making popcorn in my kitchen” type tweets. I now think of Twitter almost like a mind-reading search engine, with the people I’m following regularly “serving up” content that I find interesting, even though I may never have thought to search for a particular topic myself!

Be interesting to see how this transition evolves!

Liam (@biggerplate)

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Glad you enjoyed the post, Liam! Keep me posted on your experiences. Yea, I think everyone has so many different ideas about Twitter that it’s hard to leverage it, because it’s hard to know what you’re even trying to leverage. More, and more, Twitter has become–like you said–a service for giving you real-time posts on items that you’re interested in.

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Nicole March 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Erm….Sharefeed doesn’t even exist!

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hey Nicole — Yea, it’s still in Beta. If you have issues signing up, let me know and I can try and get you a log-in. [Use the contact form above to get in touch with me]

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jennifer jones March 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I thought this post was extremely valuable. Thanks

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

No prob, Jennifer. Glad you enjoyed it!

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Teeps March 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Thank you – wonderful article, clear, concise and nicely laid out. A real pleasure to read. Like anything on the internet, Twitter can be good and bad. Like anything in life we need discipline and understanding to maximise our time on it.

I love Twitter for the information I have found, for the chance to share information and to be helped by and helping others.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Thanks, Teeps. That was the goal! Glad you found it clear and concise. I’m trying to make all my chapters read like that. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. :-)

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CoachDeb March 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Being a Twitter addict, #7 will be tough to follow.

As for limiting intelligence to ONE tip sheet … hmmm… can’t support that, although I get the theory behind it…

(and that’s not just because I wrote the book on Twitter – it’s because one size really does NOT fit all)

#JustSayin

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Haha, that’s fair, CoachDeb. Thanks for the comment and the feedback. I really appreciate it. Let me know where I can find your book. Would love to check it out. Quansite looks really interesting. Thanks for stopping by, Deb.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

P.S. Do you have a review product available of Quansite? Would love to test it out and potentially include it in this post.

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Gand March 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Rule #2. Use TwitterGadget so you already are in a browser to browse your links.
Rule #6. Don’f follow more than 50 peoples or you are not following anybody.

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Yep, that’s it, Gand. Keeping it simple and focused :-)

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Meg Steele March 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Helpful post for a relative newbie. I set up my Twitter account a year ago and soon thereafter abandoned because those I was following were telling me what kind of hot dog they were eating and I just didn’t care. Picked it back up a few months ago because I started to feel Left Out – oh no! – am now refining my use, an who I am following, focusing as you describe. So Twitter is evolving and so am I. And I am hoping the evolution means people won’t feel compelled to thank everyone who RTs them. That’s just driving me crazy!

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Scott March 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Thanks, Meg. I went through the same experience as you. Hopefully this helps you develop a more value-driven, close group of followers!

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Nicole March 23, 2010 at 1:16 am

Thanks Scott. I’ve completed the survey, but a log-in would be great! :)

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Scott March 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Just emailed my buddy at Sharefeed. He should be able to get you a login. Let me know if you have any issues getting signed up!

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Susanna Fera March 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

I love tweetdeck. It allows me to see so much thats going on. I am not familiar with ShareFeed but will be checking that out.
I don’t like when people have an automated response to mentions or retweets. Twitter is about connecting. While I do schedule tweets, I do reply personally to mentions and RTs:)

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Scott March 23, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Likewise, Susanna. I don’t like the auto-responses or auto-direct messages. But I do like scheduling valuable tweets.

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Slaven March 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Nice write-up Scott!

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Scott March 23, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Thanks, Slaven. How are you man? Dude, can’t believe Canada beat the U.S. in hockey… we were so close… bah!

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Slaven March 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Things have been busy over here! As far as hockey, let’s face it – that win meant way more to us than it would have to you :)

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Teddy Matayoshi March 24, 2010 at 5:52 am

Great post! Twitter these days definitely should be quality over quantity. Communicating and conversing with different people all over the world is a great thing! Hey we may even prevent wars if we communicate with each other better. ShareFeed is still in beta but Twaitter rocks! Sayonara from Tokyo.

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Scott March 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Yep. Agreed, Teddy. Sharefeed should hopefully be worth the wait for you!

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Z'da March 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm

excellent advice … one can certainly lose their day tweeting and checking all day long. I do the ‘chunking’ and it works great!!! I have an egg timer to keep me on track :-)

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Scott March 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Z’da — An egg timer? That’s awesome! First time I’ve heard of such a use for Twitter.

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Rolando Peralta March 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Excellent article, Scott!
We’ve been watching these two groups of people everywhere; specially with professionals and executives (+30 years old).
It seems that lots of “experts” had been recommending “lists” of people to follow in Twitter, but for many customer’s objectives, they just tweet SPAM.
I’m not 100% agree with the idea of not using a twitter client, but I have to say that we have to learn the lingo before install a client. Tweetdeck and Seesmic are the best, IMO.
As well as the idea of “schedule” tweets. I think type manually every tweet respond to the nature of “sharing”, and I love to do it. I use twitterfeed, but sometimes I really like to add my own style for my tweets; specially if they’re about my blog posts.
thanks a lot! and let’s hope these ideas will be the standar, soon!
Cheers,
@RolandoPeralta
CommunitiesDNA

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Scott March 29, 2010 at 6:45 am

Thanks for stopping by, Rolando! Yea, ditching a twitter client is a very new idea; however, I’m a big believer in it if your job doesn’t revolve around social media. I just find it so much more purposeful and effective to follow the 7 steps above and share only valuable tweets when you have the time.

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Rolando Peralta March 29, 2010 at 9:57 am

actually, you’re right; we’re talking about “focus” and Social Media can be overwelming for newbies.
I’ll keep your recommendations for future trainings with our customers.
We just let them use “pro” tools when they reach certain level of skills and confidence. It’s like blogging, we have to learn to read, before comment, and then, just then, decide if we want to fire up our own blog.
I’ll be waiting for your book!
Cheers,

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hilaire March 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Right on. Cheers to you!

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Scott March 29, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Heh, thanks, Hilaire. Cheers to you, too.

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Hunter Gatherer April 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Good article but I don’t agree about Tweetdeck. Thanks for pointing out that it’s important to only follow those worth following. It should also be a warning to those with followers to only tweet something worthy of a read. I like Tweetdeck just because it consolidates posts from different networks and makes social networking easier to monitor.

You tweet spammers out there: Give it up! You’re killing your brands and that includes you SEO mavens that think everyone wants to know your every minute…. that’s you Lisa.

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shulleype November 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I’m hoping to source a new company to supply a promo product for my new company. I’ve been considering keychains as well as custom fans as a means to market my new product. I was looking for advice from those who have worked with a company that manufactures these types of products and might have some information about their own experience.

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Davis Baadsgaard December 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Great post. There’s a lot of good info. I wanted to let you know something though – I am running Fedora with the current of Firefox and the design of your blog is kind of quirky for me. I can enjoy the articles, but the navigation doesn’t function so great.

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