First off, full disclosure, the nice folks at O’Reilly sent me a copy of this book a week or so ago. It arrived about an hour after I finished listening to their webcast about it. Good timing on their part huh?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before it arrived. The usual pre-publishing quotes looked good and came from some of the A-list influencers but, countering that, were a number of snarky tweets along the lines of “if you need a book for Twitter you are really lame”. I finally got around to finishing it today. And not that finishing it was a chore. Quite the contrary. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if that qualifies me for lame or not but I am definitely putting this book on every client’s “buy list”.
First and foremost, it is truly a great primer for the first time tweeter. Read this and by the time you’re finished you’ll be an accomplished pro. You’ll know all of the lingo, you’ll have picked up an amazing number of useful tips and you’ll be the hit at any cocktail parties you attend where the conversation turns to Twitter as it almost always seems to. You’ll never buy another drink!
But the book isn’t just for the neophyte. There’s a lot of very useful information. I signed up for Twitter in 2007. There weren’t a lot people using it back then. I’ve followed it closely ever since and I picked up all kinds of little tidbits while I was reading the book. We used to have a saying when I was in the tennis pro business that any book that you picked up just one useful tip from, that you could incorporate into your lessons, was worth the price of admission. The Twitter Book is worth the price of admission and then some. No matter your level of experience.
The book starts out with an Introduction. The left hand page has a screen capture of a tweet or a twitter screen or some text that is explained in the right hand page. This format is maintained throughout the rest of the book. And it’s a great format too. Each right hand page in the Introduction asks What is Twitter Good For? It then goes on to provide a different use for Twitter on each of those pages. By the time I was midway through the Introduction, I found myself singing “Twitter: What is it Good For?” to the tune of Edwin Starr’s “War, What is it Good For”. Probably a genetic defect on my part. But it all sets the stage for what follows in the next six chapters.
Chapter One deals with Getting Started. It takes you through setup, putting a compelling profile together, how to follow and find people, getting used to 140 characters, hashtags, some Twitter jargon, and offers what I think is the best part of the first chapter, a way to stay engaged if you just don’t get it at first. With all of the talk, articles, blog posts, etc. lately about people trying Twitter and leaving it, this advice should be given to every person shortly after they sign up.
Chapter Two, Listen In, takes you through doing exactly that. How to track trends and topics, how to search, basic and advanced, how to set up third party and mobile clients and how to find who to follow and who’s interesting.
Chapter Three, Hold Great Conversations, talks about getting great followers, how to retweet and when to use via instead of RT, how to ask and answer questions, how often to tweet and how not to spam or auto DM anyone. That too should be part of the “shortly after they sign up” package.
Chapter Four, Share Information and Ideas, talks about how to be interesting, how to get your tweets seen, how to link to useful and interesting content, how to post pictures, live tweet events, do FollowFriday, post on the right days and use Twitter as a publishing system. Coming from the folks who do publishing for a living this was very interesting. I was amazed at how creative some people have gotten at this.
Chapter Five, Reveal Yourself, talks about posting personal details that get beyond “what are you doing”. How to fill out your bio and spruce up your background. How to crosspost to Facebook (warning here, if you tweet a lot you’ll drive your Facebook friends crazy), and how to keep track of friends and family.
Chapter Six, Twitter for Business: Special Considerations and Ideas, is the last chapter. And what a way to end. For those of you looking to use Twitter for business purposes, this chapter alone makes it worth the price. It’s a social media starter course and policy guideline rolled into one. It’s chock full of not just what to do, but what not to do, and how to avoid the minefield that social media and tweeting can be.
As I said earlier, I’m putting the book on my client’s required reading list no matter their level of Twitter expertise. I recommend you give it a read too.