Wait a minute, did Guy Kawasaki just call me a “Social Media Nazi”??

Well I guess he sorta did. I went to the Ragan Social Media Summit event at Cisco #RaganCisco ) last week and I have to say Guy’s presentation was outstanding. He’s amazing and I loved it. Even if he DID call out a certain group of social media mavens as “social media Nazis”. Ok, and he’s right to some extent. There are loads of people who say the way Guy Tweets isn’t the “right way” to use Twitter, and you can’t blame him for being a little defensive about that. After all he built an amazing empire in Alltop by tweeting the way he does, and he’s very transparent about what he does and why he does it. I follow him and I read Alltop all the time. There’s great stuff here, and you can quickly scan the headlines in almost any category you could possibly think of.

So let’s look at how Guy Kawasaki uses Twitter and whether it’s right for what you want to do.

Auto-posting
He’s a big fan of ObjectiveMarketer and Twithawk and he and his team use it to point out fascinating, odd and often useful bits of information. He advocates posting the same post more than once a day, and scheduling posts for future release. he also feeds RSS Streams of information to Twitter and Alltop.

Upside

  • This can be a very good way of building followers who enjoy wandering off topic into distraction land on occasion.
  • Tweets like this get re-tweeted a lot and that boost your following
  • Tweeting at different times of day reaches different readers so your absorption rate increases
  • Every time that tweet goes out in increase your SEO value
  • Feeding related rss streams to Twitter is just brilliant if you’re driving traffic to a portal
  • If you’ve got a lot of followers replying to a hundred “thanks great post” tweets and re-tweets is time consuming

Downside

  • Too many tweets will turn some people off (I have a column in Seesmic just for @GuyKawasaki)
  • If your tweets get too far off-topic you can lose some keyword saturation and people (and search engines) will have no clue what you’re about
  • Sometimes it’s just plain annoying to get duplicate posts
  • Twitter doesn’t like duplicate posts. Maybe you could re-phrase it a bit for each iteration?
  • Feeding rss streams to Twitter that don’t relate to what you want to promote is just noise

Auto Following

Guy says he follows everyone out of courtesy. And when you’ve got a following of over 244,000 people it’s a full time job to keep on top of who to follow! I’m of the quality over quantity camp here. I view every profile and look for people I want to talk to. Preferably ones that are smarter than I am. Anyway, here’s the pros and cons of auto follow.

Upside

  • Auto-following will build your numbers faster
  • Once people know you auto-follow you’ll get added to lists of people who follow back and your numbers will skyrocket
  • You don’t have to view all of your followers and decide whether or not to follow them or not
  • Some who you might not have followed could actually be lost opportunities

Downside

  • This is how you start getting those spam direct messages offering you answer to problems you never knew you had.
  • If you auto-follow you might be paying less attention to who people are in your network.
  • It’s just so mindless. Social media is about being social, so if you auto follow go through the list occasionally and reach out to people.

Ghosting
Lots of outrage poured out on Twitter when Guy let the world know he wasn’t writing all this great content himself. DUHHHH people, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else! I don’t have any issue with using ghosts in social media and having multiple people feed the Twitter stream as long as there is transparency that you’re doing that. Lots of companies do it too and it frees the team up to actually engage with their followers. Besides, if you send a tweet to @GuyKawasaki odds are good he’ll respond in person and not one of his staff, so what’s the harm?

So, am I a “social media Nazi”?
Mebbe so. Mebbe not. I’ll let Guy decide. My goal isn’t to drive traffic to a portal of fantastic information like Alltop at least not on this blog. I like to filter things more. I wouldn’t ever say the way Guy tweets is wrong because it’s not wrong for some sites. If you’ve got a site that’s all about sharing information and you need to drive traffic, Guy’s techniques are a brilliant way to build traffic.

Do I auto-post? Not so much. I don’t follow everybody back and my network is relatively small, but I’m OK with that. I’m a quality and depth of conversation girl. But you can be sure I use his ideas and share them with my clients!

Want to learn more about how Guy Kawasaki Tweets? Here’s a link to the page on Alltop he uses in his Twitter presentation, and here’s an FAQ on how he tweets. Oh and if you ever have a chance to hear him speak, GO. I’ve seen several presentations. He’s never boring and you always learn something.

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  • Janet, this is a great post and I really appreciate your discussing this in a clean concise way. My business partner and I are looking at different ways to create buzz and are learning by following through the various SM pipes, but as you keenly know, its a constantly changing environment. Seeing how a “style” of SM engagement works and noting the pros/cons really aids in filtering out the ???!!!??? aspect of “Why do THEY do it THAT way? Is it successful? Is it for US?”

    I particularly liked this point: >>• It’s just so mindless. Social media is about being social, so if you auto follow go through the list occasionally and reach out to people.<< Because I believe the same way. What is the point of SM if you're going to take the “S” out of it? It becomes the same as Broadcast engagement. One way and hollow. As Jeffrey Hayzlett has said, other media have been screwed up for PR and advertising, because no one listens anymore. “Don't F-up Social Media” engagements.

    In a way I think this applies to auto-follow inasmuch as if you DON'T become part of the conversation and only send out information in a one way manner, you're ignoring the real power of the SM play. Sure its time consuming and you can't engage EVERYONE on a list of 244,000 followers, but showing enough respect for the medium to keep the two-way/multi-way going not only makes the stream more interesting, it is also instructional to those who are only monitoring the stream and learning how to engage their own followers.

    And yet, I also agree with you on this point: >>I wouldn’t ever say the way Guy tweets is wrong because it’s not wrong for some sites. If you’ve got a site that’s all about sharing information and you need to drive traffic, Guy’s techniques are a brilliant way to build traffic.<< I wouldn't condemn Guy either because he is a singular personality who is putting himself (and his team) out there and in his case, this is quite enough. Using his model CAN be useful to others if it fits their business model. That's why I appreciate this discussion, because at the ground level, I think the most valuable conversations going on in the SM arena right now are the ones about how to use it successfully, appropriately and to educate others on how to do it too… this fosters evolution.

  • Janet, what Guy espouses is actually a smart idea for most brands. What you espouse is more of a personal approach. If you don't use any automation, it'll be mighty hard to move the needle at a pace that brands will find acceptable.

    The quality vs. quantity question related to followers on Twitter was answered definitely the moment Twitter started ranking tweets in search based on authority. Given that, I don't think you can make a case for quality over quantity anymore UNLESS it's for a personal account. For brands, it's all about the numbers.

    @Carri

  • Carri, I think you are correct, but I also believe its old thinking. What you suggest seems to me to be taking the old broadcasting model out and applying it to a new (reborn) medium. We're at the infancy of SM and when I imagine large brands spoiling the conversations with one way automated shout-outs, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth… Why bother with SM at all? Just go back to TV and radio, pitching the same as has always been done.

    Having a two way conversation is another thing. Saying it should be the domain of personal accounts guts the power of the medium IMO. There is a real boon to be gained by a corporation who can successfully engage their customer base on a one to one level. Used correctly, SM is a virtual concierge service of epic proportions. Even now, brands like United Airlines are subject to national ridicule over broken or lost luggage with the ability to spread a conversation across the country (or world) in mere seconds. Having an engagement with a customer is to hedge a bet and get one step ahead of a problem before it becomes one.

    Of course, based on comments from Seth Godin who is suspect of SM I would probably have to ask, 'why do I (as a brand) want to engage in conversation with the sector of people who post from behind an avatar and simply disagree or complain about my product or parrot and rah-rah without adding to the experience?' That would be a good point and remains one of the evolving questions. How do brands properly engage SM in a positive way that doesn't require a whole new infrastructure to follow, sift, turn around and answer while capturing usable data?

    For now, I like the “no way is the right way/ur doing it rong” approach. Try everything, question everything. At this early stage, there are no losers, only experience gatherers.

    Darin~

  • Hi Janet!

    After reading this post I kind of feel more at peace after a conversation I had yesterday with some of my Twitter friends. It all started with a question that my friend Kelli (@aileen2u2) asked me: “Based upon your bio, I've wanted to ask: If U have 746 followers, why do U only follow back 325 ppl? Just curious. TY”

    Not to make the story long, I feel now I was like a rebel kid and I ended up saying that “I consider @GuyKawasaki and @Mashable robots” … whaaat was that!! 🙂 .. this resulted in an interesting discussion with @aileen2u2 @URKidnRite and @SuuperG … and with Guy blocking me! 🙂

    I think that after the question my mind went to that one post by @armano called “Less Networks. More Meaning” that I had “Amplified” here: http://bit.ly/cN2HAn then @URKidnRite reminded me of the wonderful post by Gina (@SuuperG) called: “Twitter: Be Gentle with the Giants” – http://ow.ly/1YKYG

    So, with the the conversation on Twitter, the 2 posts mentioned before and this one post, I must say that I take back my comment about “robots”. I understand that there are many uses of SM and many audiences, and everyone should be free to share in any way desired. Putting a label without some thought is not the best for me. I feel passion for SM and I respect what everyone chooses to share in what ever way and and what ever frequency.

    Thank you all!
    -Armando
    @ad_web

    ps. Maybe someone who read this feels like sending a DM to Guy and say: “unblock him, he's cool now ” 🙂

  • Carri, I think you are correct, but I also believe its old thinking. What you suggest seems to me to be taking the old broadcasting model out and applying it to a new (reborn) medium. We're at the infancy of SM and when I imagine large brands spoiling the conversations with one way automated shout-outs, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth… Why bother with SM at all? Just go back to TV and radio, pitching the same as has always been done.

    Having a two way conversation is another thing. Saying it should be the domain of personal accounts guts the power of the medium IMO. There is a real boon to be gained by a corporation who can successfully engage their customer base on a one to one level. Used correctly, SM is a virtual concierge service of epic proportions. Even now, brands like United Airlines are subject to national ridicule over broken or lost luggage with the ability to spread a conversation across the country (or world) in mere seconds. Having an engagement with a customer is to hedge a bet and get one step ahead of a problem before it becomes one.

    Of course, based on comments from Seth Godin who is suspect of SM I would probably have to ask, 'why do I (as a brand) want to engage in conversation with the sector of people who post from behind an avatar and simply disagree or complain about my product or parrot and rah-rah without adding to the experience?' That would be a good point and remains one of the evolving questions. How do brands properly engage SM in a positive way that doesn't require a whole new infrastructure to follow, sift, turn around and answer while capturing usable data?

    For now, I like the “no way is the right way/ur doing it rong” approach. Try everything, question everything. At this early stage, there are no losers, only experience gatherers.

    Darin~

  • Hi Janet,

    Thanks for the post, I think the way you describe things makes sense and clarifies a few things that were not clear for me about the uses of Twitter and the value that we can find with the information that is shared.

    This post recently came to my attention and I think it relates in some ways to what you say here: Twitter: Be Gentle with the Giants

    -Armando

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