Kawasaki Kicks Off Convergence
June 3, 2010: Guy Kawasaki, back by popular demand to open Radio Ink's Convergence 2010 conference, gave a detailed demonstration of Twitter -- on which he has some 250,000 followers. Although, he said, when he signed up in 2007, his reaction was, "This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen." In fact, Kawasaki told the Convergence crowd, "Those of you have tried Twitter and thought it was the stupidest thing, you have passed the IQ test."
But, he continued, today, "The first thing you'd notice about Twitter ... is that it is very good for monitoring the sentiment, the communication, the overall feelings about any brand." Most companies search first on their company name, he noted: "This is one of the few legal ways you can monitor what people are saying around the world for free in real time."
Kawasaki then demonstrated how to do detailed Twitter searches, to "dive deeper" on brands and find out what they say, and what is said to them. But the step beyond that, Kawasaki said, is "participating and engaging." He pointed to the Twitter feeds of Virgin America and Ford, and to DellOutlet for an example of successful couponing and sales, and said, ""We've gone from a place where it takes four weeks to create a banner ad to where it takes four minutes to create a tweet."
Kawasaki pointed out that Dell Outlet has 1.5 million followers, but said that hasn't pushed up sales as much as one might expect; he said, "If you had 2,500 people who truly self-selected and care about buying Dell equipment, that is much more valuable than 1.6 million followers who followed you by accident or didn't care." With that, he said follower counts don't mean that much in themselves, and were often inflated by the "suggested user list" Twitter used to offer at sign-up. He said, "It's probably better to have people follow you who really care about what you do than shoot for the millions."
But Kawasaki did say -- acknowledging the apparent contradiction -- "If you're going to use Twitter as a marketing platform, you need to have followers." And the best way to get them, he said, is to tweet things that are "valuable, interesting, or funny." He recommended community ratings site StumbleUpon, the SmartBriefs newsletters, and his own Alltop news aggregator to find the kind of content that gets retweeted and brings more followers. He said, "I want people who are following to say, 'Without Guy having found that story, I would not have read this.'"
Asked about the amount of time he dedicates to Twitter, Kawasaki said, "Twitter is a marketing weapon." He added, "It's what I do. That's how I drive traffic." And, he added, "This is not about touchy-feely, 'Kumbaya,' driving Priuses and wearing Birkenstocks. This is about money."
And, he said, although it's not necessary to "spill your guts" on Twitter, don't be afraid of controversy or of followers who'll be unhappy no matter what. Kawasaki said, "If you're not pissing somebody off every day on Twitter, you're not doing it right."
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