Twitter through a fresh set of eyes

The Tao of TwitterI’ve been very fortunate in that my book The Tao of Twitter is being used as a text in at least 40 universities and I recently had an interesting experience when I got to sit in on a class that had read and was discussing the book.

It was fun seeing Twitter again through the fresh eyes of these students. Here are excerpts from some of the student papers as they experienced Twitter for the first time. I also wanted to help them out by giving them some link love to their own student blogs so check ’em out!

Ren Yi — “Mark Schaefer uses conversational tones and easy reading format to write the book, which makes it very easy to read, especially for someone whose first language is not English, just like me.  In fact, I am very inspired by the book since I was not a big fan of social media before I took this social media class.  I am definitely amazed by how business can be done and how professional relationships can be formed over Twitter and I hope I will accomplish those later. But now, the most important thing for me is to have a good start on the Twitter journey.

“The reason I wasn’t a big fan of social media is because I think the information on there is too personal and all about some random stuff. It never came to my attention that we should intentionally manage our accounts toward the professional direction. Now everything seems clear to me and that I should really post on a variety of topics which interest me and engage with people by reading and responding to other people’s posts.”

Morgan Neal — “I am mostly a self-taught Twitter user and the only part I have not used at all is the list feature of Twitter. I am still finding it daunting to even begin the list process. However, Tao of Twitter’s step-by-step guide and helpful hints on how to effectively use lists to boost followers and credibility as a “tweeter.” I am challenging myself to learn how to utilize this feature to provide more meaningful content to my followers.

“The part I enjoyed most was how Mark shows how his connections formed through social media and then how those connections built more connections that led to a job in Paris. Who knew?

“Although I still probably include too many personal tidbits, with The Tao of Twitter to go back to and reference I will be able to more effectively use it to network for my future career.”

Maggie Wallace — “I have been a regular user of Twitter for over three years now. However, it wasn’t until I read The Tao of Twitter that I realized the power and influence a person or a brand can gain by using Twitter.

“There were two particular phrases that stuck out to me: “Authentic Helpfulness and Meaningful Content.” While yes, a brand can use Twitter to gain followers, they will not see any return on their influence unless they use that account to connect with others on a personal level. Even simply “retweeting” a follower makes them feel more special and more connected to you.

“The anecdotes of authentic helpfulness Mark uses throughout the book are truly inspiring. Making one genuine connection through Twitter can cause a snowball effect and create strong personal and professional connections.”

Lauren Mackey — “The Tao of Twitter opened my eyes to something I had thought about, but was never able to put into words — The real purpose of Twitter.  This helped me discover the reason why Twitter has become such a big part of my day — it is unlike any other platform in that users share constant, easy to read content with each other and connect with people all over the world.”

Meg Foster — “I will admit it: I have had trouble keeping up with my Twitter account. I always seem to be on Facebook, and Twitter is just something for me to pass the time while in line or some other event that requires waiting. I read the witty things other people have to say and I enjoy checking up on the news. But as far as my personal tweets go, I believe I have less than 50. And that includes the responses I have made to other people.  I have trouble composing a tweet. Let me rephrase, I have trouble composing a tweet that other people care about.

“Although I may not be very good at it now, I believe that reading The Tao of Twitter was a huge step forward into the Twitter world. I feel that now that I have Schaefer’s insights, I will be more likely to use them in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully, these tips will help me feel more comfortable so that I am able to get my message out among all the clutter.”

Ashley Harris — “The Tao of Twitter changed my mentality and thought process. Now when I am on Twitter, I think about every message before I tweet it because I know that there could be a brand or company viewing me as a possible consumer or candidate. Therefore, watching what I tweet and tweeting valuable information can possibly benefit me and a potential company in my future.

“This has completely transformed my view about social media and how to use it to benefit myself as a potential employee to organizations in the future.”

Matthew Busby — “It took me a while to get into the Twitter scene because, like most people, I did not see the benefits of it. I was completely wrong. The main thing that I can take away from this book is that how different my mind set is about Twitter for my future career. I need to stop thinking like a college student and I need to begin to understand that what I follow and who follows me actually does matter.

“Since reading this book, I began to follow people who I deem important in the social media and advertising world.  The main thing I have noticed is that those major companies and influencers will actually follow me back. I am able to see them and they are able to see me.  These followers have also told me that my blog could be beneficial to my career if I keep it up. They are actually reading my content and the best part about it is that I am getting feedback from people who never knew I existed.”

Shannon Drew — “While reading The Tao of Twitter, I experienced a lot of “a-ha” moments.  I had created a Twitter account about a year before I read the book and I never understood the appeal. When I sat down to read the book, I finally got it. Twitter is an excellent medium to connect with others from around the world. As short as 140 characters seems, Mark taught me that a tweet can convey so much meaning.

“Reading The Tao of Twitter is the reason I have immersed myself in this medium. I now understand the benefits I can receive from Twitter, and know that I have to put in some work in order to receive them!”

(Many thanks to Dr. Courtney Childers of The University of Tennessee for the assist with this article!)

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  • MrTonyDowling

    Hear Hear. Its a great book Mark, and its nice to see it recognised as such. Its only a small thing, but as you know, it can change peoples lives for the better 🙂

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  • So I hear!!! Thanks for being a case study!

  • We must always remember that despite all the progress and evolution we have had personally in the online space, these amazing comments and observations above are insights into what is really happening in the consumers world. It’s so hard to step back and remember what it was like. Your book was also an eye opener for me that I will always be very grateful for! Happy thanksgiving ! I really enjoyed this article Mark. Thank you!

  • Excellent information! It is great to see many people different perspectives on it. This means that Twitter is only beginning to show its true potential.

  • Superior LLC

    Great post and excellent information… Thanks for sharing much information..

  • Many thanks Mila!

  • I run marketing for a small gourmet dessert company in Southern California. I have 2-3 interns from Cal State Long Beach/Cal State Fullerton every semester and summer. And I interview the applicants. Most say ‘I have a twitter account but never use it’. I train them to help with twitter for my client. Only 1 in 3 really get it. Most are too shy or can’t grasp the concept of how to be conversational. Yet all claim to be social media experts ironically. Most just use facebook to talk with friends.

    But the one thing I tell them since they are all in B School and getting marketing or related degrees is currently they need to tweet. That their careers might depend on it. That they can reach out and talk with future employers. That they can find blogs to learn from with twitter and your network being an incredible curation filter. I bet most never took that advice to heart.

  • My 14 year-old daughter signed on to Twitter recently. I asked her how it was going. She said “well, you just post random stuff like ‘I’m eating a salad'” and then ask people to follow you.

    I may need to dust off my signed copy of Tao….

  • It is worth to buy The Tao of Twitter!! I think that twitter is a part of online marketing and there are many internet marketers who drive massive free traffic from this platform!! Thank you for the information !!

  • Very similar to the reactions my students have in my classes at UW-Madison. It’s so much fun to see how student views of Twitter change during class and after reading and APPLY the Tao of Twitter content. The same holds true for my business clients as well (yes, I give them copies and make them read it too). Fantastic book! Thanks for sharing the student feedback!

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  • For me being extremely introverted (i am a INFJ – less than 1% of the worlds population) , i always found it difficult to just make general conversation on twitter or even respond to people’s tweets (unless i had already built a relationship with them). For me twitter was just a extenson of something that i do very well in my offline life (work and business) – that is i am really good at finding content and sharing with people around me.

    As an introvert , that is how i mainly used Twitter (created content, shared original content, retweeted , but hardly ever responded to people)

    But when i looked at how my wife uses twitter (she is very extroverted) , i always wondered if there was a better way for me to build twitter relationships (while not having to force myself to be extroverted).

    And for that the Tao of Twitter , has been an absolutely phenomenal read , and while i dont usually write reviews about books(my library at home has over 700 business books, and i have never written even one online review of them) -i had to write this , because this book really made a difference to how i have come to use twitter.

    The main thing i learned from the book is how to go about finding and connecting with targeted followers , who i am able to meaningfully interact with and build relationships with, without having to be subjected to the noise and clutter (which is very emotionally draining to introverts).

    In the book mark has shown how someone like me can build specific real relationships with people (based on integrity and trust) who i can influence and who can influence me, without having to resort to the “follow everyone on twitter so that hopefully some one will follow you back) strategy that most other people advocate.

    So if you are a introvert and afraid to use twitter (because you find all the noise emotionally draining and challenging), read the Tao of Twitter , i am certain you will find ways to help you build real relationships on twitter.

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