Talking tweets with Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki discusses his new book, The Art of Social Media. Photo: Halley Suitt Tucker.
Guy Kawasaki discusses his new book, The Art of Social Media. Photo: Halley Suitt Tucker.

Guy Kawasaki first rose to fame as Apple’s chief evangelist in the early era of the Mac, but today he’s best known for his commanding social media presence. Every day, he provides hundreds of insightful links to his 1.4 million Twitter followers. Kawasaki is the co-author of the new book, “The Art of Social Media, Power Tips for Power Users” (Portfolio/Penguin), with the New Hampshire-based social media strategist Peg Fitzpatrick, who plans and assists with much of his online presence. Here, he shares his insights on mastering communications on the Web.

Your new book is intense. It’s like a social media workout at the gym. Can everyone use it?

Yes. It’s written from a perspective of tactical and practical, with very purposeful avoidance of “duh-isms.” Duh-isms are things like “be open,” “be transparent,” “engage your audience.” Many social media books you read will say, “You need an avatar. Make a good one.” OK, duh. As opposed to what … make a bad one? We tell you the specifics of how to make a great avatar – it’s got to be front lit, and in focus. Make sure it’s only your face, not your face and your car and your surfboard and your spouse and your kids and your dog – just your face. We get into that level of specificity on social media.

Tell me about your pet peeves on social media.

People and brands promote themselves too much. They use social media to communicate what they want to say, which is different from using social media to communicate what your customers want to hear. There’s a very big chasm between those two things.

There is no one who uses social media for promotion more than me. But I really believe promotion should be 1 out of 20 posts. That means for someone like me, who likes to promote a lot, I have to post a lot. That’s the difference between creation and curation.

What should a good citizen on social media do for their audience?

There are four types of stories to share. Information: What just happened? Analysis: What does it mean? Entertainment: Pure entertainment like funny videos. Assistance: Posts like ‘The Top 10 tips for Yosemite.’ Those four categories should be 95 percent of what you post

And of course, how often should you post?

There are various theories on this. I probably post 75 to 100 times a day, if you count all my posts on various platforms. Many experts will tell you, post two or three, maybe five times across five services a day.

We’ve conducted tests where we tweeted the same tweet eight hours apart, then we use four different links to see how many click-throughs are on each link. Guess what — every post gets the same amount of clicks. If you post it three or four times, you can get three or four times the volume.

There are going to be some people who get upset. My logic is, if you noticed that I repeated a tweet, eight hours apart – something’s wrong with you, not me. You need a life, not me. So I also believe if you’re not pissing some people off, you’re probably not using social media right

So what’s the next big thing in social media?

I have no idea. My job is to react quickly. Did I go to Ello and reserve my name? Yes. Did I go on Tsu and reserve my name? Yes. Am I active there? Not yet

When you reach the kind of volume that I’m at, you have to cheat. The way I cheat is … number one, I have help [Peg]. Number two, there are tools like Buffer, Sprout and HootSuite where you write once and you deploy four places.

I can’t tell you that social media is easy or fast — anyone who tells you that is lying or stupid, or both, but it’s marketing. Marketing isn’t free, or easy or cheap. It’s hard. That’s why so very few people excel at it.

Halley Suitt Tucker is an author, entrepreneur, TechStars alum, and two-time successful Kickstarter campaigner. She lives in Arlington.
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