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Sep 23, 2009


Twitter tutorial:

  • What's the big deal with Twitter? 
  • Should you bother? 
  • Why are people so crazy about it, especially big names in business?

I've used Twitter for more than 140 days, and I think this tutorial will give you some insight into it.  If you want to know how to create an account, go to Twitter tutorial step by step, but this tutorial will be focused on explaining why you might use Twitter, or why you may want to wait.

However, if you are marketing anything, including yourself, you have to watch the video Twitter for marketing.

What do you do on Twitter?

Twitter allows you to shout out to all of your "followers",

  • "Here's what I'm doing", or
  • "You should read this", or
  • "I found this cool thing you should read"

but it forces you to do it in 140 characters or less.  The brevity is perfect for the Attention Deficit Audience today.  It also forces people to realize that they don't have that much interesting stuff to say.  Me included.

Why do so many big names in business love it?

  • its free
  • it allows them to announce products, services, et cetera to all their followers
  • they hope that their followers will pass the word on to others

You've heard of "word of mouth"?  "Word of Twitter" is much faster.

Is Twitter the same as Facebook Status updates?

The concept is the same, but the difference is that people that would never be your Facebook friend will probably let you follow them on Twitter.   Me included.

To follow me, if you have an account, click

Twitter's downsides:

  • Time
    • You can spend a lot of time on Twitter, and you can waste a lot of time on Twitter
      • As you read other people's "tweets" you'll see a few diamonds, but a lot of rough
        • the same person that posts a business tip that you'd really need will also tell you when they are going to the gym
      • You can't rate Twitter posts, so you can’t get just get "the best stuff"
        • although you can do a search for RT tends to get retweeted stuff, i.e. stuff that someone passed on to their followers because they thought it was good
    • You have to have a lot of followers in order to get great benefit from Twitter
      • Consensus is that 10,000 is critical mass that you need to get real benefit from Twitter.  At that point, lots of people see your posts ("tweets"), and many may "retweet", passing your information along to others
      • It's tough to "bulk follow", i.e. tell Twitter you want to follow 1,000 people that you know you want to follow (without 3rd party tools)
      • Right now, it takes a lot of time to follow a bunch of people, and even more time to get them to follow you.  That will change in the future.
    • It's tough to follow those who follow you (without 3rd party tools)
  • All messages are transient, so you will miss some good stuff

Twitter's biggest upside - Viral Marketing

If you have great content, you can post a "tweet", and if you have a lot of followers, they can "retweet", passing on to their followers, and so on and so on.

The people that get a lot of use out of Twitter tend to have thousands of followers, but this requires a lot of time and work.  If you want to build a Twitter following, it is helpful to know that most people on Twitter follow the people that follow them.  Therefore, if you try to follow 100 people, expect at least half of them to follow you, although they probably won't read what you post or care about it.

Other upsides:

  • Easy sign up
  • It's quick to post something
  • It's quick to read something
  • You can follow just about anyone, including
    • Shaq (but he can't dunk on Twitter, so why bother)
    • Ashton Kutcher (but he can't read, so why bother)
    • MC Hammer (does it because it's free)
    • Britney Spears (does it because she's free from prison)
    • John McCain (does it because he has free time now)
    • My friend Jason's cat, Sockington, who has 160,000 followers
  • You can actually follow everything everyone is saying by clicking Everyone on the right
    • actually, you can't because people tweet faster than you can read, but you can try
  • You can point to web pages through something like
  • You can search by using
  • Cool, subtle tip
    • It can actually allow you to do see tweets sent locally
      • you can do this with Advanced Search
      • Twitter users had to put in their location, so you can search for tweets just sent by people in Boston
  • Tweetdeck improves some things, but seems to have bad long term effects on your computer

My conclusion:

The surprise - I love Twitter for marketing and sales people.  I'm crazy about it.  I think there is power in there that will shock the people that learn it, so we will be doing webinars on it in the near future.  For the next 6-20 months, it could be the most powerful, inexpensive marketing tool in the last 3000 years.

In fact, we will be conducting webinars that are described at Twitter for business, sales and marketing in Boston.

For others, don't put a lot of time into Twitter yet unless your customers use it.  It has some big problems, the largest of which is "separating the wheat from the chaff", i.e., you'll have to sift through a lot of "rough" to find a diamond.

Most of the business people who get big benefit from Twitter do it by posting something and getting a reaction, not from reading the incessant list of tweets by others.  Until you are ready to amass a ton of followers, it may not be worth your time.

In the future, they will solve all of the problems you see above, and it will be time to invest your time with it.  Until then, you have to figure out whether its worth the time you spend (waste) on it.

My two cents.

Follow me on twitter at



The bizarre story of Jason's cat Sockington, who is #40 on the most followed list on Twitter, running neck and neck with John McCain, Penn & Teller, and Coldplay.


I'd love some opinions on this, so please email me at if you have some