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The Tao of Twitter, and a bit of Google+ in here too!


From a great interview with Mark Schaefer here is the video, a transcript and a load of quotes as well.
Here is a link to the new version of the book on Amazon.

And you'll be able to contact Mark here.


Martin: Hi, this is Martin Shervington. Today I’m going to be chatting with a fellow who I met at Social Media Marketing World, by the name of Mark Schaefer.

I contacted Mark recently and many thanks to Rae Heldt for hooking us up.  I said I would like to do an interview with him.  And originally I was going to talk about Google Plus, because everyone knows I talk a lot about Google Plus.

He came back and he said well, we’ve got an updated version of my book which is Mark’s Book, which is the Tao of Twitter.  And why don’t we focus on that instead of talking about Google Plus.  And at a moment I thought but I’m ready to talk about Google Plus.

Then I realized and probably people don’t know this yet, what’s been happening for me over the last two and a half years is that beyond Twitter, and I’ve been going on Twitter and a great fellow called Martin Holmes runs the distribution.  He sends the stuff out to me on Twitter to see, and that is what he does.  And I say please can you make sure that this content is tweeted and this person because I want to build the relationships, oh, that’s retweeted.

I then go over and I interact.  So it’s always me that’s interacting.  I’m the one that’s starring the comments we then call them the tweets.  I am engaged in that way.  I have found a huge advantage to building relationships by using Twitter alongside Google Plus.

So this why – and I’ve been reading the book, went on Twitter and it is undoubtedly the best book on Twitter.  I’ve read a few.  This is awesome.  But the reason why it’s awesome and I’ve been speaking to Mark just before I went live, you ease in there and it’s about relationships.  It’s not just firing in tick tack, tick tack, because it’s strictly too much and particularly if you are starting it’s too much.

Sometimes we are looking for these little nuggets and they are in there.  There’s a load of things in that.  But it’s Mark’s story about how he’s utilized this to build relationships and we all can as well.  So, on that note, welcome Mark Schaefer.  How are you doing?

Mark: I am so delighted to be with you today.

Martin: It’s good.  It’s been a while since we are in Social Media Marketing World.  But it’s great to have you in.  I know people are very excited because then they know I love Google Plus.  And yet, Twitter is still happening.  It’s still there.  It’s still a big part of social media.  It’s still a big part of people’s lives.  It’s still a big part and a way for people to build relationships.

So let’s just kick off, just give us a little bit of your background first Mark.  And then we are going to run through some questions and run through the book and give people some tips maybe along the way.

Mark: Sure.  Well, I’ve been in Marketing in various capacities for about 30 years.  I’ve done just about everything you can think of from B-to-B, B-to-C, big companies, small companies, startups.  I teach at Rutgers University in the New York City area.  And I consult and I blog and I’ve written a few books.

Martin: Well, that’s good.  Let’s just make sure people know where to find you first, what is your website?

Mark: Well, my website is businessesgrow.com.  It’s the best place to find everything about me.  I think here Martin nobody could spell Schaefer.  Even when you spell it out for them, they can’t spell Schaefer.  It’s so complicated.

So I went with businessesgrow.com that seems to help people a little bit more.  On that website you can find everything about me.  You can find my blogs, my podcasts, and lots of free resources to help people with their marketing.  And of course you can find links to my books there as well.

Martin: Great.  Let’s now look at one of those books.  So the first edition of the Tao of Twitter came out at 2011?

Mark: Well, yeah officially I self-published the book first.  It’s an interesting story because I was starting to teach at the university and when I got to Twitter a lot of my students were confused or they would forget.  And so I created this little handbook because I was tired on spending so much time on Twitter.  And after class one of the students said you know this handbook is worth the price of the whole class.  I thought ha-ha.

So I was to talking to some publishers and they rejected the book because they said it was too short.  They said we want a 240-page book so we can reach our price points.  I said I’m not going to write a 240-page book about Twitter.  So, I self-published and without any real marketing or advertising support that became the bestselling book on Twitter.

Then McGraw-Hill was interested in it because they saw that I was right.  And then the book was relaunched in 2012.  And that was officially the first edition.  But actually I had self-published one first.

And now a new edition is shipping this week, all new for2014.  About 75% of it is new content.  It’s been updated with a lot more meat, a lot more beef around advertising and some of the commercial opportunities with Twitter.  But I still think it retains the heart of the book that you so nicely described.

Martin: Great.  That’s kind and that’s wonderful.  So we’ll go into maybe some of the new stuff in a little while.  But let’s talk about the three things that you differentiated in Tao.

Well, actually let’s begin differently Mark because this is what it’s really about.  The book’s about relationships.  Is that right, if we have to sum it up?  And this is the theme for so many of us.  It’s already our heads past is that Twitter is a way to build relationships.  It’s a way to find out what people are talking about.

I remember Thomas Power, don’t you know Thomas Power?  He is a great guy.  And he stood up one time in a networking meeting and he said people say to him, why do you want to know somebody’s – what they are eating for breakfast?  And he said, you may want to know if they are having breakfast with your competitor or they having breakfast with somebody important.

Mark: I love that.

Martin: And he said that.  But you used some great examples of how you built relationships and what they have done for you and that person, because that’s what relationships is.  How it is a two-way thing.  And it’s not just about broadcasting information.

So let’s ease in to the three things, Targeted Connections, Meaningful Content, and Authentic Helpfulness.

Mark: Yes, that’s right.

Martin: And go for that.

Mark: Well, there are so many different ways to use Twitter for businesses.  It’s commonly used for customer service for example.  It can be a great learning tool.  Some marketers believe that Twitter might be the greatest marketing research tool for insight and to real time conversations ever created.  So there are lots of different ways to use it.

But as you say the thing that is overlooked is if you are a business that can benefit from networking, at a conference, at a trade show, at a chamber of commerce meeting, then you can benefit by Twitter.  So as you mentioned I really struggled for 6 months to figure Twitter out.  I hated it.  I thought it was the stupidest thing that I have ever seen.

So as I mentioned in the book I had this ah-ah moment where the story goes I was bored and saw the hash tag, new name for the Swine Flu.  And I typed it and I clicked on it and people were saying all these new names like Anthrax, and the Apocalypse.  And it was hilarious. But what donned on me was that I was watching a real time global brain-storming session.  And it was very profound because I thought this couldn’t have happened just a few years ago.

Then I started to understand this wasn’t about advertising, it wasn’t about broadcasting, and this is about connecting with people all over the world who can help us help solve our problems.  People, who love us, maybe even people who hate us.  And so it was an epiphany.  And I think that this is what most people miss that at the heart of Twitter it is still about those relationships.

Then I started to understand this wasn’t about advertising, it wasn’t about broadcasting, and this is about connecting with people all over the world who can help us help solve our problems.

There is a path, as you say there are these three foundational elements.  Content is the catalyst that makes things happen.  You can’t get noticed without some sort of background content, something that’s useful, interesting and relevant in your tweets.

The other thing is these Targeted Connections.  And what a lot of people miss on Twitter is I think they just wait for something to happen.  Twitter is this incredible opportunity to go and find and build your own community of people who might be interested in you.

The other thing is these Targeted Connections.  And what a lot of people miss on Twitter is I think they just wait for something to happen.  Twitter is this incredible opportunity to go and find and build your own community of people who might be interested in you.

And the thing that’s different as on Facebook, Twitter, even Google Plus to some respect to build those relationships you follow someone, they follow you back.  On Twitter that’s not the case.  You can find someone and they don’t have to follow you back.  You can see what they are doing.  You can still read their tweets and look for opportunities to connect and comment and retweet them and build those relationships even if they are resistant at first.

The third part as you mentioned is Authentic Helpfulness.  And I think the word authentic is important because you can’t fake it, that’s amazing.  I read this statistics Martin that the millennials are the least trusting generation ever.  They are managing their relationships over text messages on Facebook and 140 characters on Twitter.  And they have become very keen at sniffing out the fakes.

So people are not going to be attracted to you by your ads or your press releases, but they will run to you if you offer some ability to help them in some way, to help them understand, to help them make money, have a happier life, have a healthier life.  That’s what people are looking for today and that’s what we need to deliver in all of our social media platforms.

So people are not going to be attracted to you by your ads or your press releases, but they will run to you if you offer some ability to help them in some way, to help them understand, to help them make money, have a happier life, have a healthier life.

Martin: Oh, awesome.  Let’s dive into how you find your tribe.  Should you find your tribe?  Because we were talking about this and then we paused off air because let’s have this conversation on air.

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin.  And he’s had an influence on my since the early 2000.  Chris Berg has had a big influence on me in the more recent years.  And with Twitter is that a central thing that people should look at and look at building a community around?

Mark: Yes, and I’ll tell you why.  First let me give you a high-level my view of the importance of tribes and roll into the Twitter aspect of this.  And this is where we stopped the conversation before we went live because I have so much passion about this.

I love the examples that you have here around Godin and Chris and the energy and the passion they put into developing their tribes.  And you can see that pay off.

We are in a world of intense information density, of intense competition.  I’ve been in marketing for 30 years.  I think we are in the most difficult era for marketing ever.  I think social media has made it more difficult, not easier.

Because when we think about it Martin, 15, 20 years ago, well say 20 years ago we had in the UK or the US we had 3 or 4 network television stations, with BBC-1, BBC-2, NBC, ABC, CBS.  We had a couple of daily newspapers in our town, maybe a couple of radio stations that was more or less the limit of our marketing options.

Today everyone can publish.  The noise is overwhelming.  The challenge to break though is you have to execute well on so many levels.  But I think the heart of this is we also have this historical important opportunity to build a tribe.  A tribe that is truly loyal to us. I think that loyalty Martin trumps everything.  It trumps content.  It trumps back-leaks.  It trumps SEO, advertising and press releases.  If we can build loyalty then it doesn’t matter about this density.  We have won their hearts and minds.  They are going to follow us.  They are going to buy from us.  And that’s why building a tribe is so important.

Today everyone can publish.  The noise is overwhelming.

Now with Twitter’s role in this I personally think that Twitter is the fastest and most effective way to build a tribe because there are so many utilities out there to help us find people with some disposition to love us, okay.

So even let’s say for you, you want to find people who have some love or passion for Google Plus, we can find that in so many different ways and in so many different communities on Twitter, even in real time search.  We can find Twitter lists of people who are interested in Google Plus.

So in Chapter 5 of the Tao Twitter Book there are 25 different ideas of how to use Twitter to find your tribe.  Let’s say you had that same challenge for your blog, you wanted to build a blog audience, how do you find those people that are interested in you?

I think the fastest way to build a blog audience is to build a Twitter audience.  Because if you can find them on Twitter and they love you and you connect to them on Twitter, you start salting in you know links to blog posts and there is ah-ah, pretty sure I like this person, why wouldn’t I like their blog, ah-ah, I’m going to subscribe.  So I think it’s really an important tool to building a tribe.

Martin: That’s great.  And I picked up on that, I mean with the list.  Because when I found out there were lists, I would then go to people.  I pick Patrick’s list and go and see who the people were that I would relate to and that could relate to me and then start to have those people in the zone.

Let’s briefly look at the relationships between Google Plus and Twitter.  Do you think that the audience is the same? Right now is it becoming blurred?  Do you think that there is very much a different crew that’s over on Twitter still?  Are they going to come to Google Plus?

Here’s the question, is it worth investing the time in building that tribe or is the same tribe that just have another anchor?

Mark: That’s a very interesting question.  For many years Twitter had a bimodal distribution.  And it’s changing dramatically just in the last 18 months.  It had this bimodal distribution basically of young professionals and urban youth.  These were the heavy users of Twitter.  Now it’s going more mainstream, it’s going global.

In some countries in Asia, Twitter is used as text messaging.  In some countries like Japan, Twitter is bigger than Facebook.  Twitter had their company’s earnings announcement yesterday, it showed very strong growth.  So I think it is still a very viable channel and a growing channel in where it’s been used and how it’s been used.

As far as the overlap in Google Plus I think that’s a really interesting question.  I haven’t really looked at those demographics very carefully.  But certainly I think there are so many tools to find people on Twitter.

If Google Plus is the area where you are really keeping your great content, your great connections, if that’s where you are publishing, then Twitter I could see as a place to create those weak links that you can drive to Google Plus to create the stronger links.  That’s the real role of Twitter I think.  It opens doors, Twitter opens doors.

If Google Plus is the area where you are really keeping your great content, your great connections, if that’s where you are publishing, then Twitter I could see as a place to create those weak links that you can drive to Google Plus to create the stronger links.  That’s the real role of Twitter I think.  It opens doors, Twitter opens doors.

And by the way I don’t want to go on too long here and dominate the conversation but I think this is an important point.  People have way too many expectations about what they can actually do on Twitter because the relationships on Twitter and many social media platforms are weak links that simply introduce you to someone.  But then you have to work to build that relationship just like me and you.

We connected on Twitter or maybe Google Plus.  I figured okay we kind of have some similarities, I’m interested in you, and then we met face to face.  Oh, that was great, we hit it off.  And from that point on you don’t know where it’s going to go.

Now we are helping each other.  We are creating content together today.  Before our broadcast today I said how can I help you with your business, you never know where these things will go.  So Twitter just opens the door.  You have to work to build those relationships just like in the offline world.

Martin: Oh, that’s great.  I’m glad that you did say that.  Let me dive on to the thread and let’s pick up some questions.  Okay, let’s have a look.  Sunny, I thank you for your question here.  I can’t use common tracker folks because I’m doing it via live events.  Anyway, so that was that.  Sunny, here we go, this is a point that you made Mark in the book about journalists being on Twitter…

Mark: Martin, if you can hear me, I somehow buzzed out.

Martin: That was server error, we are back.  I think the line, it didn’t like my question.  It’s Google talking about Twitter you see.  They are like, hold on a minute Shervington, why talk about Twitter for, we took you off air.  Come on, I talked about Google as well.  I got that kind of ratio.  Anyway you never know.  They brought me back.

Okay, Journalist, this is an interesting thing because this is something we talk about in reaching and getting our message out into a wider world, into a more mainstream way.  I don’t think it’s that easy to do that on Google Plus.  On Twitter is there a way to do that that’s appropriate culturally?

Mark: It is the number 1 way to connect with journalists, no question about it.  Let me give you an example.  In fact there is a blog post on my blog that was about one month ago that talked about a charity effort.  They did a run from Tennessee to New York City.  They wrote press releases, they made phone calls to every TV station and every newspaper and radio station.  All along the way they got no response.

Then as they started their journey they connected to these people on Twitter.  They did a search, like I said Twitter is the easiest way to find these people.  Journalists, they are stressed too.  Their staff’s have been cut, their time is at a premium and they are always looking for the new idea and the new angle.

So they were able to tweet these journalists.  We are going to be in your town.  This is what we are doing.  Here’s a link to our program.  They got responses on Twitter from every single city they went to.  They ended up on Good Morning America, the number 1 morning television show 100% through Twitter.

The best journalists, even the best on-air-personalities are all over Twitter looking for ideas, looking for leads, looking for stories.  I would say I’m approached by a journalist at least 2 or 3 times a month who find me through Twitter.  They are looking for a lead on a certain angle on a certain topic and they are finding that through Twitter.

Martin: Okay.  Alright, next question, do you think numbers matter?  And this just goes back to people and they haven’t got – and you talked about the magic 200.  And once you get over that and then it starts to become a little more fun.  I think people on Google Plus could relate to that.

Do you think that if you just saw something that you can get the attention of people look and go, hold on a second, you only got 205 followers, maybe you are not going to be the authority, they could be an authority in science or art or anything else?

Mark: Numbers matter in a way.  And it depends on what your goal is.  So if I’m a scientist or I’m an artist and I want to connect with people that I admire, let’s say there’s a wonderful artist in New York or London, to me it’s just thrilling to connect with an artist or a musician or a professional athlete and just see what are they doing, what are they experiencing.

I follow the drummer from the Black Key’s.  And he’ll put pictures of the places where they are setting up to do their concerts and stuff.  That’s a wonderful insight.  I want to emphasize that Twitter is great if you just want to have fun.

The reason I point out this magic number of 200 because if you are following less than 200 it can get boring.  It can kind of be quiet.  So I encourage people to at least try to get that 200 number to keep it interesting, to keep it moving.  Beyond that it really depends on your business, my business, your business.

We have almost really limitless opportunities to teach, to connect, to do consulting all over the world, okay.   We could be connected to tens of thousands of people.  And for you and I that’s important because it’s like the numbers in sales.  We need to connect to a lot of people before they become a meaningful connection.  We need to have a lot of meaningful connections before it turns into a sales lead.  We need to have a lot of sales leads before it turns into a conversion, into a sale.

So for you and I and for people who are trying to network on a large scale, it is important to grow that audience as long as it’s a relevant audience.  You and I don’t want to connect to a bakery in Singapore, you know probably not anyway.  We do want business professionals who want to learn more about social media and these platforms.

If you are a bakery in Singapore, you want to connect to people within 5 miles or maybe 6 kilometers of where your business is and that maybe 500 people.  If they are the right 500 people then your business is going to be fine.

Martin: Good.  And just to say if you are watching this and you have business in Singapore then I probably need the followers still because I’m a bit late.  So just hit the follow button.  You never know because you are watching this.

Mark: You never know.

Martin: If I get even 5% on Google Plus it’s building the relationships of the people that matter the most to you.  And hoping that they turn around and go, do you know what, I kind of like your stuff.  Can we do – well how can we probably – because you are talking about this from a collaboration point of view which is very similar to how I like to go about Google Plus.  It’s about what you can do with people.

When you’re connected, that’s just a start.  This is just the beginning.  It’s like you said how can you help.  So what can we do, who can I connect you with.  What matters here is the flow of information and how the energy then moves in.

I love that fact that you’ve actually opened my eyes.  I’ve known for a while and I have been putting more attention on to it and people have seen this.  But I know that I haven’t – how do you make plural for dive-I always feel like…I haven’t dived in enough to the same level that I have with Google Plus.

But partly I’ll tell you one of the things is Mark you can’t edit tweets.  So actually now and this is going to come back to the Tao awareness, once you put a ad you actually – sorry well the Tao Twitter will bring enough awareness – you actually got to make really good decisions about what you are tweeting, isn’t it?  You got to get it right because there is not edit function which is interesting, which I think philosophically we are going to dive into Tao and see.

Philosophically what you are talking about is relationships but also there’s awareness.  And some of the people are very fast on their comments on the tweets that are going on.  And I think there’s a slight different culture to Google Plus because of that.  But it’s also vibrant.  The stream is very quick.  And doesn’t mean all the stuff is good but it’s really fast and happening.

Mark: And you bring up a really good point because of all the platforms people get into most trouble on Twitter.

Martin: Yeah, I see that.

Mark: In the United States there are reports every day of people getting fired over something they did on Twitter.  I think that all the social media platforms can hamper different personalities.  And sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.

I got a great advice one time from an executive at General Electric and he said, you have to remember that when you are on social media, no matter how casual the conversation, it’s still a conversation about you and your brand.

So I think you do need to be real time.  You do need to be honest and human.  But you also do need to be careful and you need to use your head about what you are doing.

Martin: Great.  On that note, I must say thank you Mark.  It’s a brilliant book.  If you haven’t read it yet, then get the updated edition.  It’s going to be coming out right now.  Go to Amazon and you can have the link.  Yeah this is also going to be embedded on the website and there’s a transcript of this with Mark’s advice and this is going to be linked back to Amazon where you can buy the book there as well.

Mark, thank you so much.  I knew we should we talk about Twitter, not just be folks on Google Plus.  And I appreciate you opening my mind because it’s fairly straight forward.  We just got to listen and we got to do and be open to building those relationships on wherever we find the people to connect with.  That’s great.

Mark: Thank you very much for having me, it’s been a pleasure.

Martin: Super.  See you soon and see everybody else as soon as well who’s been watching, thank you all.  Take care.

[end of transcript]