Opening Keynote by Guy Kawasaki: Twitter as a Tool for Social Media

After a harrowing plane ride and the revelry of the IM Charity Party, it’s time to get down to business. Welcome to SES New York!

A couple weeks ago I attended a webcast preview of this morning’s presentation by Guy Kawasaki. Based on the discussion spurred then, I think I’m not the only one looking forward to what Guy has to say today. I’m a little rusty in the liveblogging department but let’s see if I can do this presentation justice.

Guy Kawasaki before SES NY Keynote

I see Guy up on the stage now staring intently at a computer screen. Any bets he’s tweeting?

I’m skipping Kevin’s intro in favor of figuring out the wireless.

Guy asks how many people are on Twitter right now. A big chunk of the audience raises their hand. He says there are people who are going to say “Guy thinks everyone should go out and spam Twitter, so just start the rumors now.”

He loves Twitter because it democratizes the social media space. No matter who you are, you get 140 characters.

How about a historical example? In ice harvesting, there was ice 1.0. It needed to be winter, you had horses to do the heavy pulling and a saw to cut blocks of ice. In ice 2.0 there were ice factories — the ability to make it cold no matter where you were. Ice 3.0 was the refrigerator curve. Instead of going to the ice factory, you have your own PC – personal chiller.

On the Web, 1.0 was Web sites. 2.0 is blogging — anyone can do it. Version 3.0 of online marketing is a tweet. He loves Twitter and thinks it’s the most powerful tool in online marketing. You can reach hundreds of thousands of people and it’s free.

1. Forget the A List

With blogs, you needed the famous to promote your stuff. Their wisdom would trickle down to the masses and get you in front of eyeballs. The new mental model is not trickling down but bubbling up. The beauty of people is that people can find you. Don’t ignore the A List — TechCrunch can still get you lots of traffic. But there are people in the community that loves what you do and embraces what you do, bubbles up for you and becomes your evangelist.

2. De-Focus

In the Twitter world, in the social media world you don’t know who will be your most useful follower. Rather than the top dogs it’s always some person that you’ve never heard of that will carry your message forward for you.

3. Get lots of followers

Twitter is a numbers game. If you want stuff to bubble up, you need more swamps. This is controversial because some people believe that rather than numbers, it’s about the depth of relationships. He doesn’t buy it and says it’s a game of big numbers. Here are some tips for getting big numbers.

He says he was late to the Twitter game — he didn’t understand why he would want to know about someone’s cat. Side lesson: if someone unfollows you, it’s not necessarily okay to unfollow them back. Twitter is not rational.

Step 1: Follow everyone back that follows you. He goes to It monitors all followers and auto-follows back. He thinks it’s inherently arrogant that you’re more worthy of following than the person following you. The other reason he follows back is that he wants to enable people to DM him. He only deals with @s and DMs — that means he’s more open to discussion that way.

Step 2: The best measure of how valuable your tweets are is the number of retweets. He goes to, which is what he uses to measure his retweets. He’s in a competition with Pete Cashmore at Mashable to see who gets more retweets. He’s currently number one. Retweeting is the highest form of flattery.

Step 3: Followers are not the best measure of how successful your tweeting is. shows that Barack Obama is at the top of the list. He points to Twitter’s suggested users and says that being in that box automatically gives you a huge advantage. Twitalyzer has an algo that he doesn’t understand but it takes into account followers, retweets, “generosity”, and more. It’s another way to figure out your influence on Twitter.

Step 4: Find interesting stuff to tweet. StumbleUpon is very useful for getting more followers. He’ll point someone to a good story on SU and then shorten the URL at Adjix which can automatically tweet it. He uses Alltop the same way as SU. There will be someone following him who loves peanut butter cheesecake and they would retweet it.

Adjix is somewhat controversial as well. He says people think that he uses it to get the ad revenue, but that’s not true. It has a Firefox button, you can schedule in advance, and it lets you track how many people click on the link. 140 people have already clicked on the peanut butter cheesecake link.

4. Monitor what people are saying about you

He has a dedicated search at Search.Twitter. The search is “guykawasaki OR alltop” (he subtracts to domain so he doesn’t have to see people’s links to alltop). He watches this all day and responds to people, debate people, etc.

5. Copy other people/companies tracks what companies are doing on Twitter. Whole Foods, MTV, DunkinDonuts, Comcast, etc. You can find companies to copy and be inspired. Comcastcares is an outstanding example of how to use Twitter as a company. Mr. Comcastcares monitors and responds to all people talking about them on Twitter. When he once tweeted “I’m throwing DirecTV out of my house,” an exec called him the next day to find out what’s wrong. He understands the argument that not everyone would get that service, but it shows they know what’s going on. @amazondeals is doing it right and driving sales through short-term sales broadcast on Twitter. They are worth copying.

6. Search

This was how Guy finally got it. He does a simple Twitter search for “scion” [my car!]. If you sell Scion aftermarket parts, monitor people asking about Scion and you can tweet people that are looking for your service. You can do an advanced search for a radius around a zip code (e.g.: seo near:10019 within:100mi) and find people looking for you within a 50 mile radius. You can see how this could be used for direct marketing.

7. Use the right tools

Tool 1: TweetDeck

The panes (direct messages, searches) let you see lots of things at once. The limitation is that you can only be in one account at a time. He knows they are working on a solution to do this, but now he uses twhirl.

Tool 2: Twhirl

He has two accounts and can see both in one window. Buttons at the bottom let you switch through @s, DMs, etc. in each column/account. You can see that a lot of people are talking about this presentation right now!

Tool 3: CoTweet

It’s Web-based for users/companies with multiple accounts. It’s still in beta but is powerful for a company with multiple people with Twitter accounts. He thinks it will be very useful when it’s released in full.

Tool 4: Tynt

The greatest lie right now is: “It’s only one line of JavaScript”. But Tynt is a line of JS that when people copy something from your site it will be pasted with a link to the original source. The Tynt dashboard tells you how many times something was copied and even which paragraphs were the most copied.

8. Squeeze the trigger

People are afraid to use Twitter for commercial or marketing purposes, but you need to be able to squeeze the trigger. is interesting because you can set up searches. Auto tweets are generated for people that tweet about a subject you are monitoring. You can auto-send or manually approve.

If you’re thinking this is the ultimate spam tool, there are some measures in place. It costs a nickel to reply this way. There are certain blacklisted words (like “the) so that you can’t abuse the service. He knows people are saying that this is spam and Guy is a spammer, but he says “tough” — he can handle it. He also manually approves tweets so that when someone tweets something negative about the search topic, it’s not appropriate to send his suggestion to check out Alltop’s dedicated page. TwitterHawk records if you’ve already sent a tweet to someone so you don’t send the same tweet twice.

He’s not sure that TwitterHawk is good for everyone, but if it’s appropriate, it’s very useful.

9. Make it easy to share

On Alltop there is a tweet button right on the page that will draft a tweet like “Pretty good stuff about (blank)” and lots of people use this function every day. He thinks that giving too many choices (Digg, SU, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) confuse users. He believes you can just choose Twitter.

Another good way to share is Twitterfeed. It’s is a tool that lets you feed your RSS into your tweets. It also lets other people sign up to your feed and they will also automatically tweet your tweet. The downside is that if you’re following those people, you’ll see those tweets again. But an unanticipated upside is that it is a convo starter for those signed up to retweet your Twitterfeed.

10. Take the heat: UFM

You’ll get heat that you’re a spammer, that you’re not using Twitter right. That it should only be used as a social networking tool. There are people that believe that and it’s legitimate, but there are other legitimate ways to tweet. To those who disagree he says “UFM” — unfollow me.

So there you go. Twitter as a marketing tool. Maybe you can make Twitter work for you as a marketing tool, too.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing — Tags:
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent Social Media Marketing posts is better than the last!

One Reply to “Opening Keynote by Guy Kawasaki: Twitter as a Tool for Social Media”

Thanks for calling out Guy’s mention of DIRECTV. Guy’s tweet about DIRECTV was well over a year ago – long before it was cool for a company to be listening on Twitter. When I saw his post, I asked my VP to reach out to him to understand how we might do a better job.

The conversation was constructive and clearly made an impression in the moment, but never expected it to show up in a keynote address — let alone so long after the fact.

Thanks for sharing!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919