Twitter Power

Pretty much everyone has heard of Twitter. Commercials and web sites all talk about Twitter. Just what is this Twitter website - and how can you use it to develop your brand?

Joel's book "Twitter Power" is aimed at the very novice user. Not only that, but this is really a "Joel Promotion Book" which mentions Joel's business brands at least 8,000 times. I am probably not exaggerating. But let's start from the beginning.

Joel says that 2 years is a "lifetime" in internet terms, to show how powerful Twitter is - and then promptly quotes stats about Twitter from back in August 2008. Isn't that a "lifetime" ago? He promotes his blog, his mom's blog, his photos ... aren't we supposed to be discussing Twitter here? When he's digressing about Flickr, he's showing images of StumbleUpon nonsense.

His stats are often meant to be encouraging but are highly questionable. He says half of Twitter's users only follow 10 people or are followed by 10 people. That to be in the top 10 of all of Twitter you only need 80 followers. He's trying to make you think, "Hey, I could do that!" But as usual, these stats are rather silly. Surely this is including INACTIVE accounts. I am sure most ACTIVE Twitter users have more than 10 followers. It's twisting information to suit his purposes.

Twitter isn't a "teen" thing. A full quarter of users are 35-44 years old. This is primarily a way for adults to stay in touch with topics they are interested in. It's a free press release engine that directly reaches people fascinated by your topic.

He then moves into a few useful tidbits. Choose a meaningful username (like "TrekBikes" rather than "xyzzyforfun"). Post a good quality photo to brand yourself as high quality, and use your background to continue that promotion. Make valuable posts, not spam. Many people get their tweets on their cell phones, where they pay per message, and they will delete you quickly if you make them pay for garbage. Don't just mass join other people in the vain hopes of getting friends. Search on your topic and join matching people. Web users are very savvy about the quality vs quantity issue.

Don't just blast your message. Engage in conversations and provide value. Don't create multi-tweet messages where you have to read each one in order. Twitter isn't built like that. Consolidate your message into short posts, and link to an external blog if you need more info. Speak in full English whenever you can. Yes, it's a challenge to get it to fit in the space required - but it means you have to post quality content.

When you post something generic, like "going to the library", always have a personal touch on it, to connect with users. Add in fun tweets to bring a smile, and discount ideas, to save money. Use the feed for news, support, feedback, and offers.

Put your Twitter info in your email signatures, on your business cards. Have it a normal part of your branding.

A pet peeve of mine - Joel encourages people to run contests but makes NO mention of the serious legalities involved. What if you run a contest and are eliciting addresses from under-13 users, and get sued for the dangerous privacy issues that involves? Contest are gambling, and many countries have VERY serious laws against gambling.

There's a thirty day plan in here, but really it's very simple. Create an account. Follow people. Make posts. Make more posts.

I read through the book, gave it a month to ponder, and then read the entire book again. I had almost the exact same notes both times. He is WAY too heavy on his personal promotion in here. This is almost a "support Joel and his projects" book. He is VERY light on details and examples.

Yes, if you've never used Twitter at all, you'll find this useful - but you'd find many other competing books FAR more useful without all the self promotion in it.

Rating: 3/5

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