10 Steps to Real Business Value in Twitter

Imagine if you were the NSA or secret service and you had to write an app to make sense out of all of the various phone conversations happening around the globe.  That would be awful to hear everything at once right?  Both the Noise (twitter) and the App filter (various twitter consumer app interfaces) exist.  The pure noise of it would sound like a nightmare I once had.  I call it the rolling ball of sound.  It’s loud noises and conversations and scary screaming all rolled up, and moving fast toward me coming from some other dimension.  Before you drop this let me take this NOISE and tell you how Twitter is more.

First you don’t hear the noise of everyone’s conversations, unless you "follow" random people.  Here’s how I’ve made sense of twitter and found it useful in a business way.  My non geeky friends and family don’t use it yet, (they have figured out facebook at least) so currently it’s just my geeky business associates and those types of friends.

Here are 10 Steps to Find Real Business Value in Twitter:

(NOTE: If you’re not a SharePoint person and came by this post, replace it with your favorite thing… some sport, some technology, whatever community you want to be apart of, are an an expert in, or even if the desire and passion is there…)

1. Create an account by going to twitter.com and be sure to use the keyword SharePoint in your profile so we can find you.  Also when you (tweet) be sure to include SharePoint when it makes sense, in your tweets so we can find those as well.

2. Search for friends with keyword, example SharePoint. Go to https://twitter.com/invitations click search, and you’ll see 174 results (as of today 10/6).  The first result is "sharepoint".  The twitter for the SharePoint team blog, not a bad one and not a very frequent one.  (last post 2 days ago).  Let me suggest a few… sorry if I leave off any of the good ones… gannotti, sptweeters, SharePointMag, LLiu (long time twitter fan), bfox11b, lespaulrob, joeloleson, mysharepoint, etc… if you need more look at who I’m following or any of those in this list.  It’s quite easy to add people to follow.

Here’s an example of the "sharepoint" tweets in the form of an RSS feed (ding ding ding you don’t have to be sitting on twitter.com or whatever app to get this, you can subscribe to the simple feed in an RSS reader) the team blog:

SharePoint Team post 64-Bit and the Admin Toolkit Download Trend http://tinyurl.com/3gjjp7 07:49 PM October 03, 2008 from twitterfeed

New SharePoint site: Pinal County site hosted on SharePoint http://tinyurl.com/4g9tr4 12:50 PM October 02, 2008 from twitterfeed

New SharePoint site: Intres (Netherlands) site hosted on SharePoint http://tinyurl.com/3zsrkp 12:19 PM September 30, 2008 from twitterfeed

SharePoint Team post Announcing August Cumulative Update for Office SharePoint Ser.. http://tinyurl.com/4yc4pr 06:19 PM September 29, 2008 from twitterfeed

There are 321 followers right now of the SharePoint twitter feed, and looking at these posts you can see the relevance of the content.  Imagine you posting your tweets and having people find out about your blogs… nice huh?  A twitter best practice from buckleyplanet that I learned over twitter… It’s about the URLs.  The one liner status updates that say you’re shopping… not so cool.  I’m shopping for an iPhone.  Cool.  I’m shopping for my daughters birthday. Cool.  I’m standing in the line at Starbucks.  Not cool.  I’m standing in the line at the launch of XBox 720. Cool.  Sometimes it’s the extra little bit of info that makes it interesting and makes us want to know what’s going on.  Working on a SharePoint project.  Boring.  Working on a gnarly SharePoint Memory issue details at http://tinyurl.com/blah Supercool!

3. Outside of SharePoint, but not too far, you will find some very interesting tweeters that will make it fun and informative to watch.  Remember it’s not about the noise, it’s about the business value.  These are awesome tweeters.  My favorites: Twitscoop – This account will make sense of the noise and tell you what is going on.  It’s better than a news wire and faster.  Awesome summary of the buzz… what people are talking about.

"You are now following twitscoop.

One subject on twitter right now: http://tinyurl.com/45oo9n – no need to comment, this tells it all… This is clearly a market crash 🙁 about 1 hour ago from web

Friendfeed is down, twitterers complain: http://tinyurl.com/6zv7mg 07:36 AM October 05, 2008 from TweetDeck

Twitter is all about the apparently false report of Steve Job’s heart attack: http://tinyurl.com/45orm7 AAPL stock suffering badly right now 07:08 AM October 03, 2008 from web

Apple just denied the heart attack rumour 07:03 AM October 03, 2008 from web

Steve Jobs rumoured to have had a heart attack: http://tinyurl.com/3janld 06:38 AM October 03, 2008 from web"

Twitscoop as a user account follows only 16 people (as of now), but if you look at those they follow you’ll see some awesome ones.

Another personal favorite is Scobleizer / Robert Scoble.  He totally gets this stuff.  If you’re confused about what to twitter look across 10 of his posts and you’ll be fascinated by his views and perspective.  If you only follow a handful, he’s likely one to follow for buzz.  He’s a great filter of what’s going on cause he’s following TONS of people, and tons follow him.  Check him out!  He’s unstoppable.

  • Name Robert Scoble
  • Location Half Moon Bay, California, USA
  • Bio Tech geek blogger @ http://scobleizer.com

20,986 – Following
35,273 – Followers
14,473 – Updates

Here’s a snippet of recent twittering.  Notice all the @username things?  Those are replies.  You simply put in an @ sign in front of the username to reply.

@RoyalAntsJosh I’d respond well to such a resume (of LinkedIn/Facebook profiles) but not everyone would. I’d play it straight. about 21 hours ago from web in reply to RoyalAntsJosh

It’s amazing how bad resumes are. Here’s my tips for job seekers: http://tinyurl.com/4kdn2r about 21 hours ago from web

@MichaelYurechko I love SNL’s portrayal of Biden and Palin. Hilarious. 11:40 PM October 04, 2008 from web in reply to MichaelYurechko

I’m watching Saturday Night Live. Tina Fey makes me want to vote Republican so we can have these funny skits every Sat. night! 😉 11:39 PM October 04, 2008 from web

Ever heard of the ticker feed at a news station?  All the press people follow the ticker and simply repeat what’s being said on the wire.  You’d find that very little news is actually created, it’s repeated over and over and over.  I’ve found some *really* awesome news twitter accounts that have great feeds. 

My favorite: ricksanchezcnn he’s awesome and he’s really figured out twitter.  He was twittering he real life experiences with the hurricane.  Tons of feeling in his tweets.

If you aren’t seeing much volume follow cnnbrk it’s CNN breaking news.  It’s pretty chatty if you’re looking for a filtered view, but otherwise it’s a nice "wire" like experience.  You can get news and sports updates in a near real time push fashion.

3. Now that you are following the voices in the SharePoint community, once you follow these people and reply to their stuff they will want to follow you.  Ultimately getting people to follow you is what you want.  Why?  ‘Cause they are an audience.  A following allows you to say, hey I just posted a cool blog about social networking.  It generates traffic, traffic is money, money is good.  (Not necessarily the root of all evil when our economy is taking a dump, and when you’re looking for two coins to scratch together.)

4. Reply – Communicate – It will take a little while conversing with these people to get a decent following, but twittering replies is the way to do it.  Here are some good examples of good tweets.  Remember people won’t even know you are on there until you start communicating and replying to people who are twittering.  Twitter is the most realtime of communication, but it also has the ability to be seen weeks afterward.  When I was traveling, I’d get people replying to my travel updates.  I was posting… hey headed from SEA to BKK and then put in my coordinates or flight info so people could tell me if there was any delays that I didn’t see.  Also in the future I can imagine my family following me and being interested to see that I caught my flight or whatever.  But basically I’d get people replying and example: How were the Bangkok riots, and I would fill them in when I got the replies. 

timheuer Writing text on a Path in Silverlight – http://tinyurl.com/444nrr 6 minutes ago from web

ricksanchezcnn Check out this ink on the show. We’re having an impact. http://www.miamiherald.com/… 19 minutes ago from web

breakingnewsire WORLD: Computer chip allows control over teens’ car speed: Starting next year, a move by Fo.. http://tinyurl.com/4wb7md 1 minute ago from twitterfeed

joeloleson SPJAuto Freeware Antivirus – Free as a software concept: Body: I am an advocate for free softwa.. http://tinyurl.com/4ckynt 1 minute ago from twitterfeed

politicalticker Election could decide future of the federal courts http://tinyurl.com/4y43gt 17 minutes ago from Twitter Tools

gannotti is at the airport getting ready to head to Atlanta 28 minutes ago from mobile web

LLiu Gartner’s Adam Sarner: "Half of social media campaigns will flop.” (http://is.gd/3Bhq). My take: Social Media is Dead. Long Live Community! about 1 hour ago from twhirl

politicalticker CNN POLL: Majority think U.S. headed for depression http://tinyurl.com/4hrdm6 about 1 hour ago from Twitter Tools

shanselman Heading to building 37 about 1 hour ago from twhirl

joeloleson Retweet @arnonel: New Laptop Nice. What kind? about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

arnonel @joeloleson I just got a hot new laptop 🙂 good news for me at least…hehe about 2 hours ago from twhirl in reply to joeloleson

(Notice the thing behind the word "from"… those are the apps people are using to post.  The twitterfeed we find out is automatic posting, the twitter tools is an app, and web is someone sitting and posting directly on on twitter.com.  You can find new and cool tools for twittering in style.  Look at 6 for more info.)


rprakashg @joeloleson just downloaded fring, like it so far. Thanx for the tip about 14 hours ago from mobile web in reply to joeloleson


rprakashg @joeloleson read your post on consulting, right on the money. Its fun when you can do a mix of consult/speaking/teach etc. 09:29 PM October 03, 2008 from web in reply to joeloleson


rprakashg @joeloleson couldn’t agree with you more on bills, I hate it as well. How is post MS life treating you? see u’ve been travelling quite a bit 08:01 PM October 01, 2008 from web in reply to joeloleson

Christian Buckley

buckleyplanet @joeloleson good fun until the snow hits 08:24 PM September 28, 2008 from web in reply to joeloleson


MossLover @joeloleson That is really scary… 09:31 PM September 24, 2008 from digsby in reply to joeloleson


5. Do it Automatic! Too hard to have to login and post your blog URLs and titles?  So you want to publish your blog posts automatically???  Sure you do.  Follow the instructions on twitterfeed.com  (The Yahoo toolbar is my wife’s doing.)  Here’s a screenshot of me setting up my blog to automatically to be picked up twittered.


6.  Twitter is the platform, not the interface… I would suggest.  Many people abandon twitter because to them they see the horrible flat ugly web page of twitter and after finding only a couple of people they know they say "what a waste of time" or "I just don’t get it."  If you see the shopping or boring tweets then yeah it’s boring.  Go away for a while then come back after you find a new way to view your feeds… which is what you’ll see here…

Twitter.com (what I see, and as you can see the richness is based on who one follows…) 


I started to really understand twitter after using the mobile app Twitterrific.  This app color codes replies and keeps them for me for weeks so if I’m only checking on a weekly basis (not bad for the beginning, you don’t have to stare at the screen) or wanting to see if people are responding to my blog posts or something.  I have since found a few others I’m liking.  TweetDeck is very slick.  It shows your replies in columns and has slick buttons for picture inclusion and location inclusion.  On my mobile device twitterrific allows me to include GPS coordinates or URL of location, and including pictures is integrated.  My newest favorite on mobile is Fring.  It combines the power of chat (yahoo chat, google talk, ICQ, SIP, twitter, AIM, and MSN messenger) plus SKYPE!  It brings in the contacts and presence information and allows you do calls and chat over your data service on your phone.  I talked with a buddy on my cell phone without calling him… saving tons of minutes.  I guess that’s another story, but while I was chatting with bob fox I was getting twitter updates and was able to switch communications with multiple people simultaneously.  I see idea of combining VOIP, Video, Chat, and Twitter feeds as a movement, and the value of getting all this stuff on your mobile device is HOT.

Figure: TweetDeck



Twirl is a cool app that shows the tweets as little toasts that show in the bottom corner (kinda like the Outlook messages that come in.)  It makes it very easy to post and shorten URLs and see who you’re following and those following you.

Figure: Twirl is on the right, but I can close the app and just let it notify me.


There was a good blog post by Leslie Poston on Useful Twitter apps along with their features and what she finds useful.  The comments are worth reading as well.  There are more and more of these free apps that are really making this otherwise useless chatter really interesting and useful.

7. Don’t abandon it if it doesn’t make sense the first time or first few months even.  It takes some practice to get in the groove of it and for your tweets to be noticed.  Make it something that’s background and not in your face.  5 minutes once a week might be reasonable until you get the following.  The following will come faster if you can do one line a day, but don’t give up.  If you’re shy and you don’t care about people going to your blog, then you won’t see the immediate value.  I find people now running into me and being up to date about where I’ve been what I’ve been up to and our communications and friendships are much more rich due to their understanding and virtual friendship (even if it’s been mostly one way push).  Next time I run into scoble or mike gannotti I’m going to have a lot to say… just as an example.  Even running into Scott Hansselman (and hey I’m not a developer) I found I wanted to go to his sessions and find out more about what he was doing based on his tweeting.  I don’t read his blog, but his tweets have been interesting.  Wierd huh?

8.  Take a minimalist approach if you don’t get it – AC doesn’t get twitter, hopefully this post will help :).  Having a profile and getting just a few tweets/posts out there will give you some minimal visbility to then get a following.  Andrew Connell (AC) has 10 posts and 76 followers.  We recently saw he’s one of the most popular SharePoint bloggers, but doesn’t get twitter, just doesn’t make sense.  If all he did was setup automatic feeds, and I know he uses google alerts (try subscribing to your name if you have a unique name). and he does care what people say about him and his blog.  The minimalist approach would be to setup the auto blogging thing from #5 and then once a week hit twitter.com and click on @replies.  For 5 minutes of investment he can see if people are responding to his posts.  I know he spends more time than that on his comment moderation.  Then if he were to simply reply to those people by putting in the @username and his response.  He’d have a massive following with a super minimal investment and his fans would love him even more.  He’d also get more blogging visibility.  Just because you don’t have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that all the other millions of people don’t have access to your tweets/posts.  When you post your blogging URLs it goes into a massive feed dump for anyone sitting on twitter.com or the other dozens of twitter apps that consume all tweets and then as people search, those posts no matter how old are searchable, archivable, and consumable.  Lasting value.  Free marketing and true business value can be had.  Eyeballs…

9. Don’t waste time with it – You don’t have to sit and stare, you either have replies or don’t.  You either have something interesting to post or not.  You decide the amount of exposure you have with it.  If you’re posting ever 10 minutes, you’re going to be annoying people.  Make sure you have something kind of interesting to say.  Again, look at some of the twitter greats, they are often also bloggers who have something to say.

10. Have fun with it.  It’s designed to be informative and help you keep in touch and up to date.  One liner blogs sound pretty wierd, but finding out that their is an earthquake from friends before anyone else way before the news is an amazing life experience.  Am I Right? Scoble….

(I forgot to mention another tip… You can have your facebook status automatically updated by twitter if you add and configure the "twitter" add-on application inside of facebook. That way your tweets that broadcast your blogs for example will notify your friends on facebook!)

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