How I Follow Back on Twitter

April 11, 2015

come in, we follow back

I like to follow back Twitter users who follow me. While some follow back everyone, I utilize a “quick scan” method to decide.

In all, it takes 5-10 seconds per user. So in a sense, it’s like the phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book “Blink.” Here’s what I’m processing during those few seconds.

1) Scan the bio

The Twitter bio is the first thing I scan. Claiming to get me new followers or Facebook Likes at low or no cost? Sorry, but you’re ruled out. Next, I look for the following:

  1. You’re doing something interesting (launching a new business, writing a new book, etc.).
  2. We have shared interests (content marketing, social media, sports, etc.).
  3. You use humor. A creative one-liner tends to hook me.
  4. You have an interesting profile photo or background image.

2) Quick check of tweet count, followers, following

I prefer real people who gained a following organically (i.e. by sharing useful information). Some profiles make me suspicious. When a user has 50 tweets, follows 100,000 people and has 109,000 followers, I wonder.

I still may follow that user, but the rest of my scan happens with “suspicion filter activated.” Side note with a twist of vanity: if a user has lots of followers, follows few, but decides to follow me, that makes me feel useful.

3) Quick check of Favorites and Lists

comparing Twitter profiles

Some brands (and some people) use Twitter as a megaphone: they’re here to share their content in a one-way manner. They don’t RT, favorite tweets, reply to tweets or curate Twitter Lists. I like to follow people who use Twitter in a two-way fashion. People who will banter back and forth with me.

4) Scan recent tweets

This one carries far higher weight than all the others. I scan the most recent 10+ tweets to see if they interest me. I want to see some original content and commentary, so users who RT 100% of the time are a turn-off (sorry).

I ask myself, “If I saw this user’s tweets in my stream, would I click on some of these links?” If I get a few “yes” answers, I’ll tend to follow back.

How About You?

What is your Twitter “follow style?” Are you:

  1. Exclusive: you follow back very few users
  2. Joy to All: you follow back everyone
  3. None of the Above: you have a unique style to following back

Share your style in the Comments section below.

10 Ways Your Tweets Continue to Be Seen

June 30, 2013

Tweets can stick around for a while

Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc


Conventional wisdom is that Twitter is the essence of the real-time web: a here and now, in the moment medium. If you’re tweeting when your followers aren’t online, then they won’t see those tweets. That’s how the thinking goes.

In May, I tweeted about the San Jose Sharks. A few times this week, users have “favorited” that tweet. The NHL season is long over. In fact, what’s getting “favorited” was a tweet from May 19th, well over a month ago.

The conclusion? Your tweets can live on for far longer than you think. Let’s consider ten ways that can happen.

1) “Activity” on your tweet from other users.

When you access the “Activity” area on (Home -> Discover -> Activity), you see activities taken by the people you follow: whom they just followed, what tweets they favorited, what tweets they retweeted, etc.

If someone came across your “old” tweet and favorited it, that becomes a form of “re-promotion,” as that activity can be seen by many others. Because of hash tags, search, etc. the “favorite” (and all of the subsequent favorites) may come from users who don’t even follow you.

2) Views of tweets on your profile page.

Active tweeters get noticed, which leads to “views” of their Twitter profile pages. On my Twitter profile page, you can see all of my recent tweets.

When you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you’ll notice an “endless scroll” feature, where the page updates with the next set of tweets – and this continues on and on, the more you scroll. So in this manner, you can find my San Jose Sharks tweets from May, if you’re willing to scroll that much.

3) Twitter Cards.

See what I did (above)? I used a Twitter Card to embed a tweet in this blog post. These cards make it super convenient for writers, bloggers, etc. to re-publish tweet content. And the card makes it easy to reply, retweet, etc., directly from it.

4) Getting a Retweet (RT).

Users who retweet (RT) re-surface your tweet to all of their followers. While the RT will preserve the timestamp of your original tweet, the tweet will appear in timelines based on the time of the retweet. The tweet from last week that you thought was forgotten? It could gain a new life via an RT.

5) Search (and hash tags).

Following the eventprofs hash tag is done via Twitter search

Twitter users will often perform searches. They might be looking for something specific – or, they may like to “follow” a hash tag. To follow the popular #eventprofs hash tag (for meeting and event professionals), you’re actually performing a Twitter search. And people checking out #eventprofs activity may see your tweet from one week ago (or perhaps one month ago).

6) Twitter Ads.

Promoted Tweet from Samsung Mobile

Users (and brands) can buy a form of Twitter Ads called Promoted Tweets. They select from existing tweets and mark them for promotion (advertising). In this way, they’re able to take “old” tweets and can keep them “top of mind” by advertising that tweet. As you can see above, the tweet promoted by Samsung Mobile was posted over a month ago.

7) Screen shots.

Celebrities have been receiving a lot of notoriety lately with their use of Twitter. When a celebrity tweets something controversial or inappropriate, they’ll often delete the tweet or shut down their account altogether.

The “undo button” doesn’t entirely work on Twitter, however, as users can take screen shots of the tweets (for posterity). See this Huffington Post article on Alec Baldwin, which mentions his inappropriate tweets (including a screen shot of them).

8) Being seen in a Twitter List.

You’ve probably been added to one or more Twitter Lists. I have a Twitter List of people I’ve met in real life. As users discover new Lists and peruse the related tweets, they may find tweets (of your’s ) from weeks or months earlier.

9) Being seen in a user’s Interactions list.

If you “mention” other users on Twitter, you’ll appear in their “Interactions” area. Twitter users LOVE to see mentions and interactions. So a tweet you consider old may live on in another user’s “Interactions” area. Don’t be surprised if you receive a reply today from your tweet from last month.

10) The Library of Congress.

Via a partnership with Twitter, the Library of Congress is building a digital archive of tweets. In January 2013, the Library of Congress announced that they had archived 170 billion tweets! So behave yourself: your tweets are now a matter of public record in the annals of the Federal government.

How Social Media Can Create Lifelong Friends (That You Never Meet)

July 12, 2012


I thought it would be neat to create a Twitter List of people I’ve met “in real life” (you can find the list here: @dshiao/met-in-real-life). I’d scan both my Twitter stream and my “Interactions” tab and add people to the list.

And then a funny thing happened: for a few people, I had to think long and hard about whether we’ve met “in person.” For some people, I was about to add them to the list, then had to do a double take, think some more and realize that we’ve actually never met.

This exercise led me to conclude how wonderful social media can be. Some of these folks whom I’ve never met, I actually consider to be good friends. They may end up becoming lifelong friends, in fact, in which our interactions take place exclusively online.

Let’s consider a few other conclusions I’ve drawn from this.

The Killer Combo: Twitter and Facebook

In the early days of Twitter, I discovered #eventprofs, which I consider a community forged by a single hash tag. I followed active users, they followed me back and we’d check out tweets tagged with the #eventprofs hash tag regularly.

Some #eventprofs users (along with other, non-events folks I’ve “met” on Twitter) “friended me” on Facebook. I gladly accepted. In doing my Twitter List curation, I found Twitter+Facebook to form the killer combo. That is, if we follow each other on Twitter and are friends on Facebook, the lines blur to the point where I have to think hard whether we’ve met in person.

By looking at the links you share on Twitter, I’m able to better understand your interests (i.e. your interest graph). On Facebook, I learn about your interests – and much, much more. I’ll “hear” about your weekend plans, movies you’re watching, comments your kids made and updates on your favorite teams.

In addition, seeing pictures of your friends and your extended family makes me (by extension) a second order member of the family. The New York Times ran a piece about family estrangement in the Facebook Era, which made wonder whether I’m seeing pictures (in my Facebook Newsfeed) that some family members (of my Facebook friends) are not.

In any case, Twitter+Facebook are quite effective in sustaining friendships – and, in creating new friendships (online).

Status Updates Build a Complete Picture

Disney executive Bob Iger once said, “I’ve learned more about my daughters on their Facebook pages than I did while I was raising them.” (quote source).

I love that quote and happen to agree: family members can live in the same house, but learn more about each other from status updates. It’s a perverse thought that may be decried by the populace at large, to which I say: “it is what it is.” Here’s how status updates help to build a complete picture of yourself:

  1. Captures trivial moments. I may post about something that catches my attention or that I find entertaining. I may mention the moment to family members later on, but then again, I may not!
  2. Ongoing archive. Look back at your own Facebook Timeline. You’ll probably notice ideas, emotions, frustrations, elation and more. The series of status updates really do say a lot about you.
  3. Captures fleeting thoughts. Sometimes I’ll post a thought, idea or joke to Facebook that’s fleeting. If I didn’t post it at that moment, I might have forgotten about it. But I did, so it’s now part of that ongoing archive.
  4. Communicates goals and aspirations. Via status updates, people share what they want to do this weekend, what they want to achieve this quarter and what they want to do in life.
  5. Shows what’s important (to you) in life. Status updates also build a picture of what’s important in our lives: our family, our jobs, our values, etc.

Online Towns More Effective Than Physical Towns?

Let’s take all the people I’ve met online (and know fairly well) – let’s call it 250 people. Let’s put those same 250 in the same town as me. I wonder: would I have ended up meeting those people and getting to know them, in the same manner that I did online?

You know, I’m not so sure about that. Some of the 250, I may never have met in the first place – there are still families in my neighborhood less than ten doors away that I’ve yet to meet. This is again a perverse thought, but here’s why “online towns” facilitate more meet-ups:

Meeting doesn’t require serendipity.

In a small town, you often meet people via serendipity: you bump into someone at the post office or supermarket, or you take a run at the same time as a neighbor. There’s less serendipity online: people have a fixed presence and you can always find them, even if they’re not currently “online.”

Lower barrier to interaction.

When you meet someone face-to-face, there are certain social norms and customs that we follow. When you “meet” someone online, the social norms take a different dynamic and there’s often less holding us back.

For instance, I may tweet to someone about their awesome profile photo (on Twitter), whereas I’m less inclined to walk up to that same person (at the supermarket) and make a similar comment. As such, I wonder whether meet-ups and interactions I’ve had online would have worked out as well in person.

Lifelong Friends Should Meet (Eventually)

Now don’t get me wrong: despite my observations (above), I don’t believe in living life exclusively online. In fact, I crave face-to-face connections, especially meeting new people. So despite my observations of the “online town,” I’d love nothing more than a physical town, in which meeting others could be as convenient as happens online.

I have a colleague with whom I’ve had numerous conference calls, video conferences and related meetings. After a year working together, we had the chance to meet in person. I was prepared to say “great to finally meet you,” but she jumped in first. Her comment? “Nice to see you again.”

And that’s just the thing with these online friendships (or colleagues) – you develop such close ties online, that it’s a shame to never meet in person. At business conferences, I’ll run into people that I follow on Twitter (but have never met) and it’s a great feeling. You know each other so well that you tend to hug, rather than shake hands.


I often wonder what the world would be like if Facebook, Twitter and other social networks didn’t exist. Would I still meet new people? Would the Arab Spring have happened? I think the answer to both might just be “yes,” but one thing I know for sure: there’s just no way I could have “met” so many people from so many parts of the world without social networks. And when I come to a town near you, I may look you up (on Twitter).

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

Your Guide to Social Media and Virtual Events

August 19, 2010

Announcing the next in our eBook series – the latest is:

Your Guide To: Social Media and Virtual Events

This eBook utilizes the following outline:

Chapter 1: Twitter

How to promote your virtual event using Twitter; how to utilize Twitter Lists; how to provide end user support via Twitter

Chapter 2: Facebook

How to incorporate Share on Facebook, Live Stream Box and Facebook Open Graph

Chapter 3: LinkedIn

How to leverage LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Widgets

Download your free copy and leave a comment below with your feedback!

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How To Use Twitter For Virtual Event User Support

March 8, 2010

End user support for virtual events has traditionally been provided via a small number of channels: email and telephone support (which is especially useful for users having issues entering the virtual event) and “in-show support”, which is typically provided in a “help booth” within the virtual event.  With growing use of social media, however, attendees are leveraging their social network tools to request (and receive) user support.

From my observations, Twitter is the most widely used social network for virtual event support requests (today) – however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see increased “calls for help” via Facebook and LinkedIn.  This posting provides tips and best practices on providing virtual event end user support via Twitter.

Create/Establish a Twitter Account

Users can’t find you on Twitter if you’re not there, which means that if you don’t already have a presence on Twitter, you’ll need to create one.  I recommend a Twitter ID that incorporates your company name – or, the product, platform or service that you provide (if that’s different from your company name).  In addition, be transparent about the contributors (employees) who tweet on behalf of your company and brand.

Create A Real-Time Dashboard (of  tweets)

Configure your Twitter client (e.g. TweetDeck, Seesmic, etc.) with the relevant search terms and hash tags related to your virtual event.  At minimum, you’ll want to monitor the following:

  1. @Replies sent to your Twitter account (in TweetDeck, the column is labeled “Mentions”)
  2. A search on the hash tag for your virtual event
  3. A search on your company name – or, the name of your platform, product or service
  4. A search on the virtual event’s name or title

If it helps you stay more focused, delete columns that are unrelated to the virtual event – the result will be a single app that consolidates all “chatter” related to your event.  I recommend that you monitor for new tweets every 15 minutes while the event is live.

Allocate Proper Staffing & Get Started Early

In the same manner that you allocate support staff to booths, email inboxes and telephones, be sure to allocate staff to “Twitter support”.  You want to get up and running early – I recommend monitoring Twitter at least one full hour before the official opening of your virtual event.  Virtual event producers typically allow exhibitors into the environment prior to attendees – so during the “early period”, be on the look-out for tweets from exhibitors who may need assistance finding their way into their virtual booths.

Have at least one person who is “primary” for Twitter support throughout the event day.  And, know that Twitter users expect quick turnaround to their tweets.  Trend setters such as @comcastcares have provided highly responsive and immediate customer care on Twitter, which has raised the bar for everyone else.  Users on Twitter have come to expect similar care and responsiveness.

If you do not respond within 15-20 minutes of users’ original tweet, they may issue a subsequent tweet, letting the “world” (e.g. their followers + users who are following the event’s hash tag) know that they’ve received no response from the event provider.  So be sure to provide prompt service – if your customer care is prompt and effective, you’ll be rewarded.  Users are just as quick to say “thanks” (on Twitter) and acknowledge the great service you provide.

Following Up With A User

I prefer to handle support issues via 1-on-1 care.  Before you contact the user, review their Twitter profile – as background to your upcoming dialog, it’s good to know the user’s company, title and number of Twitter followers.  I like to know if the user has an audience of 100 on Twitter – or, an audience of 100,000.  In addition, read the user’s last 10-15 tweets, to get to know his/her interests, hot buttons, etc.

Now you’re ready to make contact.  I prefer to connect directly – a direct message on Twitter (if the user is following you), a direct email (if you have his/her email address) or a private chat within the virtual event (if the user is logged in at the time).  If none of these channels are available to you, send the user a public message on Twitter and provide your direct contact info (e.g. your email address).

It’s important to personalize your brand, letting users know that there are “real people” behind your corporate Twitter account – and, providing them with a direct means for getting in touch.

1-on-1 Triage

To prepare you for a “triage session” with your end user, I like the have the following information available via URLs that I can provide to the user:

  1. Technical requirements for accessing/attending the virtual event
  2. Automated system check that allows a user to test their system
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to the virtual event
  4. A “contact us” page related to end user support (e.g. providing an email address, phone number, etc.)

In addition, be sure to have higher level “support experts” available in case you need to delegate a sophisticated system issue.  The experts should be available within the virtual event – or, be available “on call” to jump in as needed.


Once you’ve resolved a user’s issue, follow them on Twitter – this allows them to send you direct messages.  And, it allows you to be quickly apprised of any subsequent issues they may come across.  Later on in the day, check if the user is logged in to the virtual event – if so, send a private chat request and politely ask how the event is going.  It’s always good for users to know that you’re actively supporting the event and genuinely interested in their satisfaction.

On Twitter, respond to each and every end user “tweet” – mention that the issue is resolved and invite the user to contact you back as needed.  Be careful, however, not to include the event’s hash tag on all of these follow-up tweets.  As the virtual event platform, you do not want to have a significant presence in the hash tag’s tweetstream.  Rather, only include the hash tag if your tweet relates to system-wide updates (applicable to all or most users).

The occasional update (with the hash tag) shows users that you’re listening – and replying to every single tweet shows your followers that you are responsive to each issue that arises.

The Entire Team Contributes

If your virtual event support staff is comprised of active Twitter users, encourage them to tweet about the event – have them highlight interesting sessions, pass along comments from enthusiastic attendees or simply state that they’re having a great time.  This helps promote the event itself – and, highlights the depth of the team behind the event support.  Take it a step further and create a Twitter List of your staff – allowing interested users to follow your employees tweets via a list.


The world is going social, which means that user support and customer service need to be “socially listening” (and responding).  Get ahead of the curve – be sure to support your next virtual event on Twitter.

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The Social Media Landscape

November 9, 2009

I get a lot of enjoyment following trends and developments in social media and social networks – it’s an exciting time, with things moving so quickly.  Keeping up with the pace of change is part of the fun.  I’ve written a blog posting over on the InXpo blog – where I cover some recent developments in social media:

  1. Twitter Lists
  2. Social Search
  3. Inter-connectedness
  4. Mobile


The blog posting is titled, “Making Sense Of The Ever-Changing Social Media Landscape“.

Leverage Twitter Lists For Your Physical Or Virtual Event

November 7, 2009


Robert Scoble's tech-event-organizers Twitter List

What’s a very simple yet effective way to integrate the new Twitter Lists feature into your event?  Here’s what you can do:

  1. Define your event hash tag (a “must do” for any event!)
  2. Create a Twitter List for your event
  3. If your company or event already has a Twitter ID (“brand”), connect it to that ID (e.g.<your-brand>/<your-event-list>)
  4. On your registration page, ask registrants to supply their Twitter ID
  5. Manually or automatically populate your Twitter List directly from registration!

As part of the Twitter API, there are methods in place to interact with Twitter Lists (look in the documentation for List Methods, List Members Methods, List Subscribers Methods).  As such, you could automate this process by having your registration page utilize the Twitter List API to auto-populate your list directly from registration.

In addition, you could use the Twitter API to inform registrants which of their Twitter friends or followers are (a) also registered and (b) already a member of the Twitter List.  Here are benefits of leveraging a Twitter List for you event:

Registrants promote the event on your behalf

It’s the crowdsourcing method for generating awareness – allow the participants to spread the word on their own.  After all, the combined reach of your registrants is far greater than your own.  By referencing your Twitter list on your registration page, users who supply their Twitter ID will likely go straight from registration completion to the Twitter list to (a) confirm that they’re now a member of the list and (b) skim through the pre-existing messages.

The concept is similar to a pre-event bulletin board or forum – the beauty of using Twitter, however, is that unlike a forum (which needs a critical mass of initial postings before it really takes off), a Twitter list is “pre-seeded” from the natural activity of the list members’ tweets.  You can be sure that as users register for your event, they’ll first tweet that they “just registered” – and then, continue to tweet about the event (especially as the event date draws near).  You’ll want to encourage all registrants to include your event hash tag when they tweet.

Facilitates pre-event networking among registrants

Whether physical or virtual, a key reason people attend events is the networking aspect – being able to meet, connect and interact with others, to discuss common business challenges – and to extend their social graphs.  Too often, however, one arrives at an event with no idea whom else is attending.  A Twitter List changes the game – you’ll not only know the identity of folks who are attending, but you’ll feel like you know them very well.

Consider friends or family members that you follow on Twitter or Facebook – do you find that you come to learn and understand them more via status updates than interacting with them day-to-day (or over the years)?  It’s remarkable how social network connections can generate a more complete picture of an individual.  With pre-registrants to an event, you may find that you’re really getting to know individuals, based on their intra-day status updates and industry thoughts.

This will lead to events whereby attendees will have pre-arranged meet-ups and appointments (with other attendees) in advance, making their event experience more rewarding.  Perhaps someone will build an integration from Twitter List pages to LinkedIn, so that event registrants can also extend their LinkedIn connections directly from the event’s Twitter List.

Allows exhibitors to get to know registrants/attendees

This will need to be managed/handled properly, as registrants surely wouldn’t welcome unsolicited pitches from exhibitors before they’ve even attended the event – but, imagine the potential for exhibitors.  You get to know the users who are attending the event.  Perhaps you create booth content or special offers that are tailored to what you’ve learned about your upcoming booth visitors.  Did they talk about pricing challenges in your market?  Well, how about an event-exclusive price break on your product, which you announce at the event?

If users commented about technical challenges using your product, bring the right specialists into your booth so that you directly address this pre-event feedback.  Lastly, exhibitors can seed some “must meet” lists based on the registrants who are tweeting within the list – build a profile of interesting users and ask your booth reps to be on alert if those individuals visit your booth.

Can you believe it?  Something as simple as a Twitter List can go a long way to making everyone happy: registrants/attendees, exhibitors and … YOU.

Related links

  1. 10 Ways You Can Use Twitter Lists (Mashable)
  2. Five Essential Twitter Lists For Every Event (CrowdVine)

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