Monthly Archives: September 2011

Twitter User of the Year, 2011: Mark Schaefer

@MarkWSchaefer is an all-around Twitter wise man, mentor and a great help to all who come to him for help and advice. He’s a worthy follow-up to the TweetSmarter 2010 Twitter user of the year, @Alyssa_Milano.

Mark teaches social media marketing courses at several colleges and is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University. He also runs one of my favorite blogs—Grow (an AdAge Top 50 blog).

But the main thing you need to know about Mark is that early in 2011, he released the book “The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business.” I highly recommend it (and available in the Kindle edition for just $5.99!). The philosophy he outlines in that book can make Twitter better for businesses, individuals or communities.

I asked another one of my favorite users, @LeoWid of BufferApp to catch up with Mark and ask him to share some of his advice with the Twitter community:

1.) What does Twitter mean to you?

I don’t think it is too bold to say that Twitter has changed my life.

Twitter is a powerful networking tool and I have met many amazing people who have become my friends, collaborators and customers. I have built a good part of my consulting business off of my blog and Twitter. Important achievements such as becoming a consultant to the UK government and obtaining a teaching position at Rutgers University have their roots in connections I made through Twitter. So, you’re right. Twitter is more than “what I had for breakfast.”

2.) How is Twitter different to other forms of communication?

In a way, that’s like asking how wine is different than milk. Both are popular beverages but they serve different purposes in time and place.

There is a place for phone calls, a place for email, a place for Facebook, a place for Twitter. And, not everybody enjoys wine and not everybody may enjoy Twitter. It suits my lifestyle because of the opportunity for quick connections and updates that often lead to more meaningful discussions and global relationships.

3.) Is there a piece of advice you would have liked to have when starting out on Twitter, anyone new to Twitter should know about?

Twitter is easy to do, but very difficult to understand.

With all these hashtags, links and acronyms tossing about it can be intimidating and strange. If you’re serious about really giving it a chance (and I think you should!) ask a friend to get you started or buy my book The Tao of Twitter. I don’t mean to be self-promotional, but the specific reason I wrote this was to help people cut through the clutter and get up to speed very quickly. It has helped thousands of people, which is very rewarding.

4.) If you could give someone reading this 3 quick pointers on making the most of Twitter, what are they?

  1. Focus on connecting to people who have a reason to care about you. I provide unconventional advice on this topic. I recommend that newcomers should have a goal of having at least 200 followers as soon as possible. Why? Because less than that, you will be bored and want to quit.
  2. Get in the habit of continuously sharing interesting content. As you go about your day and you are reading articles and blogs, tweet them out to share with your friends. It doesn’t have to be just about business. If you tweet as you go along in your day, it will also make Twitter more time-efficient.
  3. Tweet during normal business hours. I know that may sound counter-intuitive but research shows that is when most people are reading.

5.) I saw lots of fantastic reviews about the Tao of Twitter. Why should people pick up a copy of your book?

I have really been overwhelmed by the feedback on this book. People have told me that it has changed their lives. That is pretty amazing to hear. There is no reason to struggle with Twitter now that this is book is available. It’s cheap, it’s fun to read and in 90 minutes you will have Twitter figured out!

About the Author:

Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of Twitter App Buffer, an App that allows you to tweet all the great content you find more intelligently without flooding your followers. He writes more Twitter Tips and updates every week on the Bufferblog. Say hi @LeoWid anytime, he is a very nice guy and always happy to chat.

If quality isn’t your top objective, what is?

I’ve gotten too busy to meet all my objectives, so I’ve had to settle for doing just two things excellently:

  1. Tweeting high quality Twitter information and security alerts;
  2. Providing quality help to people with urgent or difficult questions.

Making this change has been tough.

While I’ve always made quality my number 1 goal, I hate missing useful information, or relevant breaking news, so I spent a lot of time trying not to overlook anything.  And I’ve also spent a ton of time finding people with Twitter questions that I can help (in addition to answering all questions sent directly to me).

But strangely, wonderfully, as I find less and less time to go through read tons of Twitter articles or seek out people with urgent or difficult questions, people have begun helping do that for me. More people sending me high quality information to share. More people directing users with urgent or difficult questions to me.

I never would have expected that by only having time for my highest quality activities, more and more people would step in to help me help others.

But that’s exactly what is happening.

Which just leaves me with one thought: You guys are awesome!