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July 04, 2009

How I Tweet: Updated 9/2/10

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Update: Holy Kaw

By far, the biggest change to my tweeting is the creation of a section of Alltop called Holy Kaw. I started it because of the popularity of my Posterous blog where I uploaded pictures and summaries of interesting stories—basically stuff that was too long for a tweet and too short for a blog post. I noticed that these posts were getting thousands of page views, and there’s nothing that I hate more than an unmonetized page view, so we added it to Alltop.com. By the way, it’s pronounced “holy cow” as in “holy Kaw-asaki.”

This is how Holy Kaw works: a team of ghosts and contributors and I scour the Internet to find interesting, educational, and funny stories. The editorial test is that the story elicits a “Holy kaw!” response when one reads it—for example, “Holy kaw, Facebook is now worth $23 billion!” We write up the story or embed the video and post it to the Holy Kaw part of Alltop (we still use Posterous for this). These stories are then tweeted out to @GuyKawasaki and @Alltop.

We never write up so much of it that there’s no reason to go to the source. For example, if it’s a “top ten” story, we only include two or three of the ten. We include a link to the source story—we’ve never had a complaint from the sources because we send them thousands of page views. Indeed, this works so well that sites such as HowStuffWorks.com and National Geographic have contributor accounts so that they can write up their own stories on Holy Kaw to point back to their site.

We make money because there are banner ads on the Holy Kaw pages, and there is a link to a relevant Alltop topic site—for example, if the Holy Kaw story is about social media, we include a link to Social-Media.alltop. There are also ads on the Alltop page, so we monetize the Holy Kaw page itself, “self-advertise” to an Alltop topic, and then monetize the Alltop topic page too.

General

  • Question: How can you follow so many people?

    Answer: I don’t read the timelines of all the people that I follow. Instead, I only deal with @s, Directs, and tweets that contain “guykawasaki” and “alltop.” I am not reading everything everyone I follow tweets, but I answer almost every @ and Direct.

  • Question: Then why do you follow everyone?

    Answer: I follow everyone for two reasons: first, common courtesy; second, so that anyone can send a Direct to me. I like Direct messages because they are so much more efficient than email.

  • Question: Why do you repeat your tweets?

    Answer: I repeat my tweets because I don’t assume that all my followers are reading me 24 x 7 x 365. This is the same reason that ESPN and CNN repeat the same news stories (without updates, simply identical reports) throughout the day. I’ve examined the click-through patterns on repeat tweets, and each one gets about the same amount of traffic. If I tweeted stories only once, I would lose 75% of the traffic that I could get.

    repeat.jpg

    Every Holy Kaw story is tweeted four times (the graph above shows a more extreme example of five repeated tweets), eight hours apart through @GuyKawasaki. I also manually tweet links to pages that aren’t appropriate for Holy a Kaw post (for example, a cool blog) through @GuyKawasaki and use Objective Marketer to also repeat these four times, eight hours apart. I frame some of these links with an Alltop link using Objective Marketer in order to promote an Alltop page—here’s an example. Again, @Alltop has the same Holy Kaw stories, but they are not repeated.

  • Question: What Twitter applications do you use?

    Answer: I’m on a constant hunt for the ultimate Twitter applications. Right now, I use TweetDeck on my Macintosh and Twitbird on my iPhone and iPad.

    My ghosts and I also use Objective Marketer to post tweets that contain links. This site enables us to create marketing campaigns and then schedule, frame, and track tweets. Disclosure: I am an advisor to Objective.

  • Question: How long do you spend on Twitter every day?

    Answer: A few hours per day though this is hard to calculate because if I’m on my computer, I have Tweetdeck running, and I multi-task.

Ghostwriters

  • Question: Do you use ghostwriters?

    Answer: Yes, I use ghostwriters because I want to provide as many interesting links as possible, and the more intelligent people looking for interesting stuff the more we will find. In addition to ghostwriters, seven organizations can post Holy Kaw stories too: HowStuffWorks.com, Futurity, Toxel, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Answers.com, National Geographic, and BBC.

  • Question: How do you and your ghosts find so many links?

    Answer: My personal sources are my MyAlltop page, StumbleUpon’s toolbar, and SmartBrief. I write up about three to five stories a day. I also assign approximately ten stories/day to the ghosts to write up, so even if a ghost writes up the story, there’s a high probability that I selected it. My ghosts and contributors use a plethora of sites and tools.

  • Question: Isn’t automatically posting feeds “cheating”?

    Answer: The goal is to have interesting tweets that people retweet which encourages more people to follow me. Whatever works, works. The editors at Toxel, Truemors (other a porn video or two), and How Stuff Works are so good—why shouldn’t I “cheat”? Pick your corner.

    Picture 1.jpg

  • Question: Do your ghosts respond to @s and Directs for you?

    Answer: No, they only tweet outgoing links to interesting sites and blogs. They never respond for me or as me.

  • Question: Why did you hide your use of ghostwriters?

    Answer: I’ve never hidden this fact. As soon as I started it, I disclosed it (way back in January, 2009) here. My attitude is: “As long as the tweets are good, why does it matter who posted them?” In fact, the pictures or logos of my ghosts and contributors appear in their stories.

  • Question: How can I see only tweets from you and not from your ghostwriters?

    Answer: There is no way to see only my posts. Think of @GuyKawasaki as a news feed ala CNN or the New York Times.

  • Question: Why do some people attack you so much for this?

    Answer: Most are angry, little “SEO experts” who cannot generate content, so they try to generate controversy in order to drive traffic to their blogs or get other angry, little people to follow them. What they should do is learn how to avoid cluelessness

Alltop Promotion

  • Question: Why do you constantly promote Alltop?

    Answer: Twitter is a broadcast marketing tool. This is why I put so much time, energy, and money (my ghosts don’t work for free) into it. The Alltop “advertising” justifies and pays for my tweeting—you can think of my tweets as PBS content and the accompanying Alltop promotion as the fundraising telethon.

  • Question: Okay, but what if I don’t want to see Alltop promotions?

    Answer: You can UFM (unfollow me). The economic and philosophical model remains: we find good stuff, we ask that you “pay” us for this effort with a page view. If you can find good stuff without us and think that our “fee” is too high, UFM and have a happy rest of your life.

  • Question: What if I don’t like the Alltop frame that you place around the stories that you link to?

    Answer: You can click on the “x” to close the frame, or a more permanent solution is to UFM.

Additional Resources

Update: Here is a collection of all my Twitter tips.

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