The cool and not-so-cool from TWTRCON San Francisco

by David Spark on May 31, 2009

I attended TWTRCON in San Francisco today. I tweeted away (@dspark) along with a packed conference that just begun its planning eight weeks ago. Just goes to show how successful you can be in the conference industry is if you ride a very successful meme or phenomenon.

Photos by Jerad Hill Studios

Here’s a summary of the cool and not-so-cool items seen and mentioned at the conference.

NOT SO COOL (CORRECTED-It’s COOL/NOT SO COOL) – Guy Kawasaki and his “ghost twitterers” – Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) publicly admitted once again that he has “ghost twitterers” tweeting for him. If that’s the case, then he has to stop referring to them as “ghost twitterers.” The definition of ghostwriting (or “ghost twittering” in this case) is to take credit for someone else’s work. When asked point blank about it, Kawasaki admits it, but for the people who don’t ask, he’s taking credit for other people’s work.

Guy Kawasaki by Jerad Hill StudiosTo defend his actions, Kawasaki likens what he does with his Twitter account to what Oprah does with her magazine. Oprah doesn’t write all the articles in her magazine, Kawasaki said. Yes that’s true, but Oprah doesn’t try to fool the majority of her readers into believing that she wrote the entire magazine. She gives bylines to her writers. Guy doesn’t. He only admits he’s not the only writer when asked. He doesn’t volunteer that information.

Since Kawasaki wants to take advantage of his 125,000 followers, but doesn’t want to do all the twittering himself, he needs to fully disclose his behavior in the following way:

  1. Set up a Web page with bios of all the people who Twitter for you. Make that page easily available.
  2. Once a day, tweet the link to the guest twitterers’ biography page.
  3. Have the guest twitterers tag each @GuyKawasaki tweet with their initials so people know who did the tweeting. In fact, this is the standard for CoTweet. They tag every thing with initials (e.g. ^DS for David Spark).
  4. Start referring to them as “guest twitterers” and not “ghost twitterers.”

UPDATE: I have been corrected by Jesse Engle, see comment below. It turns out that Guy Kawasaki DOES give credit via initials to his guest twitterers. He just lists them by name on his Twitter page. He should go further and provide bios.

COOL – Twitter contests – I’m a big fan of using contests to grow your social network. Seth Greenberg, Director of Online Advertising and Internet Media at Intuit told a story about holding a contest on Twitter for TurboTax. Intuit asked Twitterers “If you were a rock star, what would you like to deduct with TurboTax?” The contest got 6,000 entries, but the most important metric was the number of followers (or impressions) that heard about the contest, which was a total of 1 million, said Greenberg.

HootSuite mascot, Jerad Hill StudiosCOOL – The endless Twitter clients for group management – There are a bunch of Twitter clients for (e.g. HootSuite, CoTweet, TweetFunnel, ObjectiveMarketer) managing tweets across a group. These tools allow you to manage multiple people within a group, monitor behavior, and assign tasks all within Twitter. Warning, these are power user products.

COOL/NOT-SO-COOL – Projecting all the #TWTRCON tweets next to the stage – I have a love/hate appreciation for publicly projecting the Twitter stream from the event. It’s great because it promotes the stream and provides additional content beyond what’s being said on stage. I hate it because the public presentation to the whole room and next to the presenters hinders twitterers from making critical comments.

Jerad Hill PhotosNOT-SO-COOL – Lack of how to’s – The meat of the programming is about brand management and delivering customer service through Twitter. I would have liked to see on stage how these companies actually listen and do brand management through the variety of tools they use (e.g. PeopleBrowser, Radian6, TweetDeck, Visible Technologies).

COOL – Arguing – There was tons of arguing from the audience and the panelists. People attacked how people tweeted. Others defended how they tweeted (e.g. Guy Kawasaki). Rafe Needleman (@rafe) demanded to know where these big companies such as Boingo and Comcast were justifying budgets to hire staffs to get people to Twitter. Not surprisingly, they just dodged the question. Rafe and the rest of us really wanted to know.

MC Hammer by Jerad Hill StudiosCOOL – You CAN manage the release of announcements through Twitter – One person asked a question about getting ignored on Twitter. He said he would ask a question of a celebrity or a big corporation and he got ignored. It made him feel a little down (there was a communal “Awwwww” from the audience).

MC Hammer said he unfortunately has to ignore people’s requests all the time, because they ask questions for things he’s not ready to talk about, like the TV show he was about to do. Later, when he was ready to talk about the TV show, he talked about it. MC Hammer reiterated that you can control the release of your announcements through Twitter.

COOL – Business often starts from innocuous conversationsShel Israel, author of the upcoming book, Twitterville, pointed out that we rarely begin business with business conversations. But rather we begin business with a casual non-business-oriented conversation (e.g. sports, fashion, entertainment). One shouldn’t knock the “I just had a cheese sandwich” Tweet because it could lead to greater business opportunities.

NOT-SO-COOL – Preaching to the choir – Way too much of the dialogue on stage was speaking to the choir of the value of Twitter. Unfortunately, I would say this was the theme of the entire event.

Mike McAllen and David Spark, by Jerad Hill Studios

My advice for the next TWTRCON – Less talking heads. More demos of experiences

You’ve got the visuals, you’ve got the talking heads. Synchronize them. Force the talking heads to actually show demos of what they’ve done to manage customer service using Twitter. Have them explain mistakes they’ve made, what they’ve done to streamline processes, and let them show how they’ve managed the entire process flow of conversation through the Twittersphere and all other social media tools.

A final thanks to Jerad Hill Photography for all the great photos used in this post. And that photo above is of me and my friend Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events and Media.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Pratum June 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Good points here. My major takeaways were that there were very few business-related things that I needed to write down (as a lot of us had heard most of it before), but there were a few gems throughout the day, and likely the most interesting aspect of the conference was the applications, statistics, etc that are being built on Twitter. CoTweet, Hootsuite, Peoplebrowsr, etc… they all wowed me.

Joseph Hunkins June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Nice summary of the conference here. I went to Twitter 140 conference a few days earlier and some of your points here would apply there as well.

I’d like to see more developer camps about using the Twitter API from the Twitter team.

mike mcallen June 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Great points and great picture of us. It was great hanging out with you at the conference.

Your friend,

Mike “peahead” McAllen

Amita Paul June 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Nice Summary David.

Thanks for the mention of ObjectiveMarketer amongst cool twitter apps. I would have loved to give you a demo of the product at #twtrcon. Some other time!

Nathalee Ghafouri June 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for the great wrap up and for including TweetFunnel in your “cool” apps section! I did want to point out though that unlike some of the other management tools, TweetFunnel is designed to accommodate any user, regardless of how much of a power user they are. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate.

Thanks again for including us in your post!



Claudia June 2, 2009 at 9:36 am

Thanks for this! I wasn’t able to make it there in person. This post helped give me an overview of what happened at TWTRCON. Hope to be able to make it for the next one!

Agree that there are too much how-tos been talked about and there’s a lack of examples and case studies of how Twitter works and not work for campaigns and corporations.

Claudia from Singapore

Jesse Engle June 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Hi David, great post as usual. It was great to see you again and catch up. A quick clarification on Guy: he actually does disclose the people who are contributing tweets on his account (see the bio on his profile page) and they sign their initials on their tweets. When you see a tweet with no initials, it’s Guy (which is appropriate considering that it’s his account). Looking forward to seeing you more often soon!

David Spark June 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Jesse for catching my error on Guy Kawasaki. I have actually updated the post and credited you for that. Still, I don’t think Guy goes far enough. He doesn’t clearly explain what’s going on. It’s extremely confusing and he doesn’t give these what should be called “Guest twitterers” bios and credits on his blog. By listing the names, it’s not clear why they’re listed, and it’s not clear that the initials are connected to those names. How do I find out more about these people?

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