Archive for July, 2009

HOW TO: Win Friends and Twinfluence People

December 19th, 2008 | by Mark Drapeau

In the last year or so, microsharing service Twitter (Twitter) has grown by leaps and bounds, in terms of both popularity and usefulness. Regardless of the precise companies or services that become the most popular in the future, forming and utilizing decentralized social networks through microsharing is most likely here to stay, because it is fun and useful.

But the lack of structure, bounty of third party applications, and global sources of expert advice can also be daunting to newbies. So, for those who are new to Twitter, here are 10 things I’ve learned about winning friends and twinfluencing people:

Win Friends

1. Be unique, but be yourself

Just like in everyday life, if you want people to notice you, somehow you’ve got to stand out in the crowd. Twitter is a complicated and growing mess of feeds and it’s difficult for people to find each other. However, always stay true to who you really are – don’t “peacock” just for the sake of attracting people to bizarre behavior. Marina Orlova uses her brains, beauty, and natural charm to teach people about history and linguistics in a really fun way. Broaden your horizons, but don’t fake it.

2. Participate in conversation

Twitter is inherently a conversation. By using search tools, reading blogs, etc., find people who are talking about things you’re interested in, and join the conversation in a respectful and hopefully unique way. Tireless blogger and new media business consultant Chris Brogan is a great example of this. Find something good to add to the conversation – or stay quiet; don’t just be a nag, a yes-man, or a me-too person.

3. Provide value to a community


People get on my radar when they selflessly and repeatedly add value to a community of readers. Some people are funny, some provide free services, some give out advice. Music enthusiast and online guitar instructor Walt Ribeiro provides awesome value to his online community, and has turned his talents into a tiny empire of popularity. People like this slowly turn into rock stars.

4. Attract loyal followers

There are all kinds of ways to ‘game the system’ and attract followers, like you-follow-me-I-follow-you and following bots that auto-follow and then unfollowing them. But what does having 8,000 followers mean when they don’t know you or care about you? By making solid connectons over the years, Peter Shankman has built a loyal following of “hacks and flacks” who can be mobilized at anytime through his “Help a Reporter Out” (HARO) network. By participating in conversations and adding value you will accumulate followers that will help you when you need it.

5. Mix microsharing with other outlets

You can’t just Twitter; it’s too one-dimensional. Mix it up with whatever you like doing, whether that’s blogging about tech, short videos of you pimping your hot rod, taking nature photography, or attending black-tie galas and appearing in magazines.

Through running a family business, producing online video shows, and headlining social media conferences, wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk “brings thunder” to everything he does. Doing and cross-referencing different activities online creates feedback loops that increase viewers and can get people talking about you and your activities when you’re not there to participate yourself.

Twinfluence People

6. Find the influencers:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s easy to find out who the popular and influential people are on Twitter – they’re giving keynotes at events, they’re at the top of the TwitterGrader and Twitterholic and other lists, and mainly, people talk about them. Self-styled geek blogger Robert Scoble is an influencer – the “Scoble Effect” can literally crash new startup websites with a rush of traffic. Learn who influencers are, what they do, and why people revere them. Imitate some of their behaviors when relevant, while still being yourself.

7. Become an authority

It’s nice to be good at something. It’s better to make yourself invaluable. If your tweets disappeared, would anyone notice? If you make yourself an authority on some topic being discussed in the Twitterverse, people will seek you out to be in the conversation – and that is evidence of influence. I can’t name many information technology or social software analysts, but I know Jeremiah Owyang – through his listening, writing, and conversation – he has made himself an invaluable part of the Twitter community. Find your niche and own it.

8. Be creative

Invent a contest. Conduct a poll. Document an exciting trip. Wear funny scarves on a YouTube (YouTube) channel. The innovative Sarah Evans founded both the popular Top 50 Tweeples contest and the frequent #journchat discussions that have bridged the gap between traditional media, bloggers, and public relations professionals. Surprise people with new ideas – anything novel that builds community, increases participation, and allows people to have fun is a winner. Don’t be boring.

9. Reward with shout-outs


When you see someone doing something awesome, give them a high-quality shoutout. But be stingy and make it count. Here’s a shout-out that I gave to Army public affairs guru Lindy Kyzer for the great tweets she was sending from a conference she was attending. Everyone loves hearing that they’re doing something awesome – and they also remember who thought that in the first place. Put a virtual smile on someone’s face.

10. Always have fun

People use social media for many reasons, some more serious than others. But no one is immune from enjoying themselves. If all you do is post links to your latest influential blog, or link to current news stories you’re reading, you may be adding value, but you may also be boring everyone who follows you. Toss in an unexpected joke, complain about your dog, announce your engagement. Colleen Graffy, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, has a serious job – but that doesn’t stop her from showing her funny side. If you are enjoying yourself it will rub off on others.

The Bottom Line

There aren’t any secrets. You get out what you put in. Work hard, add value, and don’t rest on your laurels. Note what’s happening in the news, and in life. Always evolve; adapt to your environment. Embrace trial-and-error and a spirit of lethal generosity. Take risks. Be surprising. Be awesome.


10 Twitter Tools to Organize Your Tweeps

June 9th, 2009 | by Josh Catone

As Twitter surges toward an estimated 12 million registered users by year’s end (though some new stats may disagree), some of us are starting to deal with what we recently dubbed “followholism.” You’ve followed so many people, it’s hard to keep up, and it’s probably time to do a little housekeeping. But where do you begin? Twitter (Twitter)’s own tools for managing followers are subpar. It’s nearly impossible to figure out who among your followers are following you back, and the interface for paging through followers is clumsy and difficult to use. Fortunately, Twitter’s API has given rise to a vast universe of amazing third party apps. So we’ve assembled a toolkit below of 10 services that can help you take control of Twitter and organize your followers. If you know any other tools that would be helpful for organizing tweeps, add them in the comments.

Find Out Who You’re Following


When I first joined Twitter, I started following people right out of the gate in order to get some utility out of the site — after all, the only way to join the conversation is to start following it. After I got used to Twitter, though, I had the urge to clean up my follow list. Eventually, I found that some of the people I had initially followed as a way to get into the community weren’t necessarily people that I was interested in continuing to follow. Here are some tools to help you investigate your tweeps and make an informed decision about whether to keep following them.

1. Twitter Grader – Using a detailed 5 piece algorithm, Twitter Grader assigns every users you run through its system a grade from 1-100. Using this tool you can investigate how engaged the people you’re following are and that can help you decide if you want to keep following them.

2. Twinfluence – Twinfluence is a scientific approach to measuring the influence of Twitter users. It’s another set of metrics you can use to help you figure out who you want to follow.

3. Tweetcloud – One of the most important factors when deciding whether you want to follow a Twitter user is what sort of content they tweet about. If someone tweets mostly about topics you don’t care about, they might not be the best person for you to follow. Tweetcloud creates a tag cloud of a person’s tweets to give you a bird’s eye view of the type of things they tweet about.

Find Your Friends


Not all relationships on Twitter are equal. Unlike many social networks, Twitter allows you to follow (most) people without their permission. There might be a bunch of people who are following you that you aren’t following back, and likewise there are probably some people you’re following who aren’t reciprocating. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — if their content is good, then you shouldn’t worry about whether they follow you back. But knowing who your friends are is helpful when you’re trying to organize your Twitter follows.

4. Twitter Karma – Twitter Karma is a great app that lets you sort through all of your follows and see who’s not following you in return, who you have a mutual follow/follow-back relationship with, and who is following you that you’re not following back.

5. Friend or Follow – Friend or Follow does essentially the same thing as Twitter Karma, helping you figure out who your friends, follows, and fans are on Twitter. The difference is in the presentation, and it might be a little easier to use for those with a large number of follows or followers.

6. Qwitter – Once you’ve done your initial cleaning, Qwitter is a nice app that will update you via email whenever someone stops following you. It will even let you know what you tweeted that caused them to stop following you, which could be useful (if you lose five followers every time you tweet about your cat, for example, that might be a hint to stop talking so much about your cat if you want to retain followers).

UPDATE: We’ve had some reports that Qwitter hasn’t been as reliable lately as it had been in the past. An alternative service that also notifies you when you lose a follower is Twitterless. If you really want to keep on top of when your followers jump ship, it might be a good idea to sign up for both services to make sure you have all your bases covered.

Get Rid of Inactives


According to a recent study, 80% of Twitter users have less than 10 total tweets. That might not be a bad thing — some people might join Twitter specifically to follow others and track their updates. But inactive users might also not be the best people for you to follow. Here are two tools that can help you weed out the inactives.

7. Nest.Unclutterer – Nest.Unclutterer will automatically block Twitter users who are following more than a certain number of people or who have been inactive for a certain number of days. You can specify those thresholds and white list certain tweeps so that they are exempt from the cleaning. Nest.Unclutterer is actually less about who you’re following, and more about making sure people following you are actually friends you want to be associated with.

8. Twitoria – Twitoria scans through your Twitter account and finds anyone who has been inactive for the past week, two weeks, month, two months, six months, or year.

Manage it All


Now that you’ve cleaned up your Twitter follow list, you’ll want to keep on top of things from here on out. Here are two apps that will help you better manage new follows and followers.

9. TweetSum – TweetSum digests all your new followers, rates them using what they call the DBI (”Douche Bag Index”), a number that supposedly weeds out Twitter users likely to be annoying, and then lets you easily follow them back or categorize them as tweeps you don’t want to follow. You can see a list of recent tweets for each new follower as well, which is helpful.

10. Tweepler – Tweepler is a new follower management application that lets you make quick, one click decisions about whether to follow people back or drop them into an ignore pile (out of sight, out of mind). In addition to being able to view recent tweets, Tweepler gives helpful stats about new followers, such as average tweets per day.

Top 10 Cities for Young Business People

(via UNDER-30 CEO and @flipbooks on Twitter)

10. Jacksonville

A surprise finalist on the Under30CEO Cities for Young Business People, Jacksonville with no state income tax catapulted itself into the top 10. A relatively cheap cost of living compared to others on the list, your money goes far in Jacksonville.  This isn’t the Florida that you grandparents live in–average age of JAX is 35.  Warm weather, beaches, what’s not to like?

9. Phoenix

You may have overlooked the fact that Phoenix is the 5th most populated city in the country or that Phoenix’s Arizona State University enrolls 90,000+ students.  Phoenix has a beautiful backdrop and represents all four major sports with professional teams.  Go shopping for your dream home at discounted prices as have dropped more than anywhere in the country.

8. Denver

An extremely active outdoor scene, whitewater kayaking within city limits, epic skiing a short drive, Denver is not only great for outdoor sports, but also a great spectator sport city.  Coors Field spills out into the bar scene in the middle of bustling LoDo.  “The Wall Street of the West” operations include Charles Schwab, Janus Capital, Oppenheimer Funds, and Western Union.

7. San Francisco

SF has an enormous entrepreneur scene, laid back California culture, and tons to see and do.  Entrepreneur meetups, Stanford and Berkeley nearby the Bay Area has plenty of hungry business people.  Don’t expect sunny California weather throughout the city–micro climates can be a 20*F difference on opposite sides of the city.

6. Portland, OR

Often overlooked in the Pacific Northwest, Portland boasts fantastic preservation of open spaces.  Dry summers and temperate winters “The City of Roses” is a great place to start a business or meet your match.  Come to Portland for the outdoors or the art/music scene.

5. Seattle

If you like Rock and Roll forget Cleveland, Seattle is the birthplace of Jimi and grunge.  If you like studying the rapid expansion of coffee shops–Starbucks and Seattle’s Best have set the pace.  Seattle’s is extremely wet; home of the Puget Sound, Seahawks and Mariners.  If it wasn’t for the rain and earthquakes, Seattle would rank even higher.

4. Austin

Rising on the scene, Austin is not your typical Texas city.  With something for everyone, Austin’s nightlife will accommodate University of Texas students, young professionals and the upscale crowd.  Austin’s resistance to commercialization gives it the adopted slogan “Keep Austin Weird”.

3. New York

Want to conquer the world? Move to New York.  It’s price tag kept it out of the #1 slot, but New York has so much to offer.  By sheer size, things to do, people to meet and opportunities to seize New York is BIG.  You can’t walk down the street in NY without hearing another language, meeting someone from out of town or seeing something bizarre.  Take it piece by piece and think of your neighborhood as a city of its own.

2. Chicago

Cold as hell in the winter, but fun as hell in the summer.  Where else in the world can you lay on the beach and look up at skyscrapers?  Michigan Ave has impressive parks, shopping, restaurants and views of Lake Michigan.  Go out Saturday mornings for beach volleyball, a run or bike on the boardwalk or just stay in bed hungover from your night out in Wrigelyville.

1. Boston

New England charm, 20+ higher learning institutions, fantastic history and plenty of neighborhood bars, Boston tops our list of Top 10 Cities for Young Business People.  Less expensive than their rival New York, walk anywhere in the city without worry, there will be students and young professionals all over.  When it’s sunny in Boston everyone is outside, pretending they were on Cape Cod.  Hate them or love them, the Sox, Pats and Celtics make Boston a huge sports town.