A Tweet Fit for a Queen

Today I’m privileged to feature a wonderful social web success story from my friend Imad Naffa.  He recently told me about being re-tweeted by Queen Rania of Jordan and how he increased his business by 25 percent in six months through Twitter alone.  I hope you enjoy learning from Imad as much as I have:

Imad, first tell us about your famous tweet and how it was picked up by the queen.

I left Jordan to come to the US in 1980. I headed straight to Fresno State in California, and enrolled in the Civil Engineering program. I was 17, so I was old enough to have a lot of memories of growing up in Amman (the capital of Jordan).   During those years I met one of Amman’s cultural icons, the “Peanut Man” and I posted my experience on my Blog.

I knew Queen Rania of Jordan was active on social media and had numerous followers. I wrote her via Twitter to let her know of my blog post about the “Peanut Man.”  Since the Jordan Times, a local Jordanian Newspaper, wrote about him, I figured the Queen would be interested in the post I added. Sure enough, she re-tweeted my post.  In a follow up post, she noted that she met him, was sad of his passing away, and added a picture of her and the Peanut Man in downtown Amman. The picture appears in my blog post (and above).

You told me your tweet went crazy.   How did you know it went viral?

Queen Rania has about 1.2 million Twitter followers. Once she re-tweeted my blog post, I noticed dozens of re-tweets of her post. Obviously, her followers picked up on the story and wanted to share with their followers. Most of the people that re-tweeted the Queen’s post were new visitors to my account.

Did the Queen follow you back?

Queen Rania is not following me at this time.  We communicated via @messages. I post on technical topics, social media and world affairs. I’m afraid I post too much and will overwhelm the Queen’s account if she was to follow me. She only follows 56 people!

You have a large and loyal following, Imad.  How did you build your Twitter audience?

The key for me was that I already had a passion for the Internet and providing resources for building code and construction topics. I’ve developed web sites and software over the last 20 years. Twitter allowed me to broadcast these offerings and I found there was a great need for such information globally.

But I learned that technical information would not do it alone. Once I branched out by posting on other topics I was interested in, there was a great increase in the followers.  Once I started providing information on a myriad of topics like the economy, sustainable energy, culture, and social media, my number of followers increased dramatically and rapidly.

How do you use Twitter for your business and how do you assess its effectiveness?

Twitter has allowed me access international professionals in my field that I would not have met otherwise. Now I’m collaborating with engineers and architects in the UK, Africa and the Middle East on topics relating to their  building codes and construction projects.

In addition, I am now able to broadcast to a large international audience the many technical offerings that I developed over the years and are a must-have tools for architects, engineers, developers and code enforcement officials. The number of subscribers to my web-based engineering offerings have increased by at least 25 percent in the last six months alone due to Twitter. I can track where the users are coming from, and that’s how I’m able to assess the increase in traffic to my web sites and online offerings.

Imad Naffa is Founder, President and Sr. Engineer, NAFFA International, Fresno, CA. Follow him at @imadnaffa.

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  • This is a great personal and professional story. Imad is one of the people I met on twitter when I started our own twitter account for Riggins Construction & Management, Inc. as an experiment I thought doomed for failure.

    He’s not snobby (with 27k followers) and highly interactive with interesting information, industry information, and “blah blah” water cooler stuff (which is important, too).

  • Yet one more terrific example of non media professionals seeing great returns from social media efforts. There are millions more just like Imad that need to be identified and highlighted! My only follow-up question to Imad is what kind of revenues or business imacts can you attribute to this effort?

    Great find, Mark!

  • Jim LeBlanc

    This is inspiring. Thank you Imad for sharing this story. I have a question for Imad if he is tuning in to the blog today. How much time per day do you spend keeping pace with your Twitter kingdom? You do a wonderful job!

  • Thank you all for your kind comments so far. I had no idea Mark’s blog post would reach so many so fast!

    Bridget: Thank you for your kind words. I try! I’m learning as I’m sharing and won’t stop any time soon.

    Steve Dodd: Thank you. I agree, there are numerous people on Social Media doing interesting and innovative ventures that should be highlighted and their experiences would be inspirational for the rest of us.

    To answer your question- the main thrust of Social Media for me has been the almost-immediate access to professionals and expertise worldwide. Now I have access to experts in any of the fields I specialize in (building, fire and access codes) to collaborate and look into possibilities in other countries beyond the US to help companies and governments with establish building codes or access to online resources that I developed for training and education.

    The noticeable impact from Social Media for me has been the increase in membership in some of my online technical offerings. For example, we documented recently a 25% increase in new membership in the Building Code Discussions Group (BCDG) a technical forum for architects, engineers and code officials from throughout the US and some international. I founded and administer the BCDG. The BCDG is a premium (paid) membership forum and its revenue supplements my main business- the building code consulting for local governments throughtthroughout the Western USA. This increase in new membership would not have been possible without my active involvement in Social Media, specifically Twitter.

    Jim LeBlanc: Thank you! How much time I spend on Twitter? Well, the short answer is too much! I do not recommend what I do to anyone else. We are all unique and with different circumstances.

    Beyond my typical plan review consulting time, I was already spending a couple of hours a day catering to my Building Discussions Group. With 22,000+ members on the BCDG, sometimes it feels like a full time operation. Most of the mechanical functions are automated by now and that helps. I still read almost every post on there for QC and continuing education in the ever-changing building codes.

    Twitter added a couple more hours a day to that. But, I post on a myriad of topics beyond my technical expertise. My passions for news, global affairs and interaction with the smartest people globally becomes an addiction if that is your cup of tea! Again, its not for everyone how I do the Social Media, and I do not recommend it. I’ve always had a craving for knowledge on all kinds of topics, Twitter, and Social Media in general, simply catered perfectly to that craving.

    If you wish to discuss this more, I would be happy to share more my experiences. Some I documented on my landing page:

    Warm regards, Imad

  • Woweee, Mark – you always have the best stories, case studies and content on your blog!! What a fantastic illustration of the power of social media – and a great one for the doubters of ROI too!! It’s literally like we need to reeducate how businesses think about business with the paradigm shift of social impact!!

    Queen Rania seems like a wonderful role model and for sure huge props to Imad for his leadership too.


  • Mark

    @Mari Thanks for taking the time to deliver such a wonderful compliment today! You put a big smile on my face!

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  • Imad has been one of the special people in my life that I have met through Twitter.

    I was touched by the Peanut Man story and I love that it was picked up by the Queen! If only the Peanut Man could have known while he was alive how many people would have known his story.

    Thank you for this real life illustration of Social Media Mark. Very special indeed.

  • Mark

    @ Beth — Thanks for expressing these nice sentiments today!

  • FABulous wake-up call to action Mark and to re-evaluate the way we use Twitter and Facebook.

    The thing I’ve learned most about Social Networking is that “One MUST BE Social!” Many have no conception of what it is all means and do NOT want to spend the time to form and strengthen relationships.

    Thanks for the reminder and PHENOMENAL case study! Well written too… kept my interest until the VERY last word.

    BTW, I found you through a Facebook entry by @MariSmith!

    Roz Fruchtman

  • Well, if this doesn’t make the case for social media, I am not sure what does. Imad, your personal and professional stories are quite inspiring. And Mark, what a nice job of working a fairy tale involving a beautiful queen into your blog lineup. It’s almost like you are marketing 😉

  • Mark

    @Roz — Glad this helpd and look forward to having you part of the {grow} community!

    @Marc — Originally I am a journalist by training and also by my heart so I am always looking for a good story. Good story-telling can also be good marketing!

  • Pingback: Case Study: One B2B Increases Business One Tweet at a Time | Mirna Bard()

  • Pingback: Eulogy For a Friend: Remembering Imad Naffa | AECforensics.com()

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