The Hostway Blog

The Real Reason to Twitter

If you ever go to a conference at which Guy Kawasaki is speaking, make sure you get to his talk early enough to get a good seat. Entertaining, informative, and as he admits, sometimes a bit controversial, a Kawasaki's keynote can make attending the conference a good investment for any size business.

For example, when Kawasaki spoke about Twitter at an SES conference in New York City, he said that at first, like so many other business owners and professionals, he just didn’t “get” Twitter. But after looking more closely at it, he not only “got” it, but now sees it as one of the most important tools a business can use to spread the word of mouth about their business.

He sees Twitter, in fact, as version 3.0 of the online world – a way to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of people, for free. In recent years a lot of businesses, Web site owners and bloggers have used the Internet for “Trickle Down” marketing. They aim at getting mentioned by an A-list blogger or a top site, because such a mention can drive a lot of traffic to a Web site. But that spike in traffic, Kawasaki pointed out, is a fleeting thing. It happens once and then goes away after a few days.

What business should be looking for – and what he sees Twitter as a force for accomplishing, Kawasaki explained, is “Bubble Up” marketing.

His bubble up philosophy of marketing is based on the premise that “You don’t know who the best evangelist will be for your product or service.” Instead of “sucking up” to A-listers (in the blogosphere or elsewhere), you need to let those true evangelists find you and get the word out about your products or services. Twitter helps makes that possible. In fact, Kawasaki says, Twitter has been extremely valuable in helping him build his site, Alltop.com into a popular site very quickly.

Kawasaki presented a number of very specific tips for using Twitter to help those potential evangelists find you and spread the word about your business. Among his tips:

De-focus. Don’t ignore the A-listers, but don’t focus all your attention on getting them to pay attention to you, either. The important thing is “who loves your site” and becomes an evangelist.

Twitter is a numbers game and you need to have lots of followers. You want as many people as possible to find and follow you so they can “send the message up.”

Automatically follow everyone who follows you on Twitter. “I think it’s arrogant," Kawasaki said, “if you think you are worth following but don’t think the people following you are worth following.”

Have a goal for using Twitter and a way to measure how you’re doing at achieving that goal. He suggested one good tool for doing that is Retweetist, which shows how many times you’ve been retweeted. (A retweet is when someone repeats what you said so people they know will see it.)

Make interesting tweets. Like most other things on the Web, one way to get people to love you is to post information they want to know about.

Monitor what people are saying about you. You can monitor the tweets about you by searching for your ID, company name, industry segment and by watching @ replies.

Save time with various social marketing productivity tools. One such tool Kawasaki mentioned is Adjix, which is a Firefox plug in that makes it easy to post to Twitter from any place on the Web and also shows how many times people clicked on your links. Others included Tweetdeck and Twhirl, which both provide ways for individuals to monitor Twitter, and CoTweet, which is a tool for companies that need to coordinate multiple people using twitter (for instance a support team).

Copy best practices. On Twitter that means looking at how other companies are effectively using Twitter to engage with their customers and build buzz. JetBlueAirways and Amazondeals were two of the good examples of Twitter use he mentioned.

Be willing to “squeeze the trigger” on Twitter. One way of doing that – one that is somewhat controversial, he suggested — is to set up searches for things you’d like to get known for, and then automatically tweet a response when that search term comes up in a tweet. The tool he likes for doing that is TwitHawk, which not only generates the automatic response, it also remembers who the response was sent to so you don’t keep spamming them with the same response whenever they mention the topic again.

Make it easy to share. Add a Share on Twitter button to your Web site.

Be willing to take the heat if you use Twitter as a tool. People will say you are a spammer, that you aren’t using it right. And for that, Kawasaki has invented a new acronym: UFM. It stands for UnFollow Me. If you don’t like what he is tweeting, he says, just UFM.