Twitter Tips: Advice from Evangelist Guy Kawasaki

Calling Twitter a tool that enables “democratization of power” for businesses and individuals alike, venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki today offered an assortment of tools and tips for using the social media platform for marketing.

Despite his love affair with Twitter, Kawasaki warned that people who tweet will encounter some heat.

“If I do it, it’s clever marketing. If it’s done to me, it’s spam. It’s situational ethics,” said Garage Technology Ventures’s managing director during today’s keynote at Search Engine Strategies NY.

Tip: Forget the ‘A’ List

Before Twitter, marketers and others seeking publicity would try to woo the top journalists and bloggers — the likes of Walt Mossberg, Jason Calacanis, and others — to get coverage. Conventional thinking was, “if you suck up to them, they will write about you, blog about you,” he said. With Twitter, he said, conversations about brands should be bubbling up rather than trickling down from the “A” list.

Tip: Follow Your Followers

“It’s a game of big numbers,” Kawasaki said, who has 92,000 followers. “Automatically follow everyone who is following you.” He recommended the use of a tool such as SocialToo, which enables people to automatically follow a follower on Twitter.

Following your Twitter followers allows users to exchange direct messages. What’s more, Kawasaki suggested that it appears arrogant if you don’t follow your Twitter followers.

He offered up TwitterCounter as a tool that tracks the number of followers for each Twitter account. It shows average growth of followers per day, and other trends.

Tip: Measure Your Twitter Juice

While Kawasaki talked up building a following on Twitter, he said he considers another measure more important: the number of times someone “retweets” or copies someone else’s message and sends it to their followers. To track retweets, Kawasaki uses Retweetist, which tracks the most popular messages copied and resent on Twitter.

Twitalyzer was cited as another tool that measures influence on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Adjix can be used to shorten a long URL that can be sent immediately, or scheduled to be sent at another time from multiple accounts. The service also monitors how many people have clicked on the shortened URL. (On another front, Adjix can be used to embed ads into tweets.)

Tip: Monitor Your Brand on Twitter

Monitoring your brand in Twitter affords the opportunity to respond to queries. “I look for people tweeting my name on Alltop. I watch this all day long. I answer people, I debate with people,” Kawasaki said. (Alltop, a Kawasaki venture, is a site that aggregates popular content by topic such as health and sports.)

TweetDeck is a tool that enables visitors to track direct messages, and searches for specific keywords such as a brand name or generic term like “search engine optimization” in separate panes in a Web browser. One shortcoming, Kawasaki said, is that it is not possible to monitor more than one Twitter account from TweetDeck.

To monitor more than one account at a time, Kawasaki says he uses Twhirl, a software client for the desktop. Using Twhirl, he said he can search and monitor anyone mentioning “Kawasaki” and “Alltop,” omitting any messages that have been retweeted or copied by others. By doing so, he can quickly identify new messages that may require a response.

He also pointed to a tool undergoing a beta trial: CoTweet, which can be used to manage multiple Twitter accounts used by multiple people.

Tip: Squeeze the Trigger on Twitter

In one of his more controversial suggestions, Kawasaki said he uses a tool called TwitterHawk that searches for keywords in messages and automatically generates tweets in response to those messages. “It’s the ultimate spamming tool,” he admitted, adding that TwitterHawk offers a feature that enables Twitterers to manually approve each automated message. (Each message costs five cents to deliver.) Someone who dislikes Britney Spears, for instance, would not want to receive a message alerting them to the top Alltop articles about the singer. But a Spears fan might want to learn more.

Another potentially controversial tool is TwitterFeed, which can create an RSS feed that automatically delivers tweets from one account to the accounts of other followers. Citing an example, he said if someone likes TechCrunch, that person can elect to automatically send TechCrunch tweets to their followers.

He said there are 590 Alltop followers on Twitter who have agreed to receive the Alltop news feed and send it to their followers. “We counted how many followers they had — they had 125,000 followers,” he said. “This is powerful.”

Tip: Watch What the Best Are Doing

Businesses worth watching for best practices on Twitter include Comcast, JetBlue, AmazonDeals, and CirqueLasVegas, he suggested. “These people are not the CEO. They are not always toeing the company line. They do company stuff and personal stuff,” he said.

For anyone who doesn’t like what he or anyone else is tweeting, Kawasaki has come up with an acronym he hopes will become popular.

It’s UFM. And it doesn’t stand for “You f******g moron,” he said. Instead it stands for, “UnFollow Me.”

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