Thoughts on Schaefer’s “The Tao of Twitter”

10 Feb

I’m not a big Twitter user, but since a few friends signed up, I did too. I didn’t use it much until I saw a TED talk extolling the unintended virtues of this service. I also noticed that I could follow politicians and tweet about their performance, policies and speeches as I heard about them. I know that someone’s tallying up the yeas and nays and this seems a more convenient way to voice my concerns.

Still I don’t tweet daily and I can go a month without checking my account, but that’s fine. Infrequent use doesn’t mean a service or product isn’t useful. I don’t wear hiking boots every day, but I wouldn’t throw mine out since they fill a gap. Also, I think information professionals need to understand and use all popular social media to reach all patrons.

I am curious about Twitter and how organizations can use it effectively. Thus Mark Schaefer’s The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time caught my eye.

After just a few chapters, Schaefer’s book has been helpful. He begins by describing how one of his twitter exchanges led to a networking relationship which resulted in career advice and new video equipment for his mentee, new business for a a former colleague and lots of valuable knowledge for himself. He’s used Twitter to invite people into his web brainstorming sessions, which have resulted in eliciting effective ideas quickly and inexpensively. His tweets have led people to his blog, where he shares his thinking on marketing, his field. In turn the blog has led clients to him. They like his thinking and establish a rapport and when they have work he can do, they’ve called him.

Schaefer boils the “Tao of Twitter” down to three elements:

  • Targeted contacts
  • Meaningful messages and
  • Authentic helpfulness.

Since I use Facebook more than I tweet, I wasn’t aware of the strengths of Twitter. Schaefer points out that:

  • Twitter users are the most influential online consumers–more than 70 percent publish blog posts at least once a month, 70 comment on blogs, 61 percent write at least one product review monthly and 61 percent comment on news sites.
  • Daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles,
  • Five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post product reviews at least monthly, compared to non-Twitter users.
  • 11 percent of online consumers read Twitter updates, but do not have a Twitter account themselves!
  • 20 percent of consumers indicate that they have followed a brand on Twitter in order to interact with the company–more that email subscribers or Facebook fans. (p. 32-33)
  • 79 percent of Twitter followers (versus 60 percent of Facebook fans) are more likely to recommend brands since becoming a fan or follower (p.26).
  • Facebook’s share links average only three clicks, while Twitter’s tweets generate nineteen clicks on average (p. 27).

I was very surprised by these facts. Then I considered that television news does often include tweets in their coverage and that celebrities use Twitter a lot. Also, Twitter users may be in a different demographic than I am thus I might be out of the loop as far as its popularity and use.

Scheafer moves on to not just tell people how to handle the basics of Twitter, but how and where to use it wisely. He recommends using the list feature to create lists of users who relate to certain topics you’ve determined are useful, how to find people who located near a specific location and who share a specific interest. He suggests signing up for Twellow, service like the yellow pages for Twitter that Schaefer recommends for finding accounts according to business, location and/or keywords.

I’ve set up a few lists and will add a few more. I looked at to find out my Twitter grade. I wasn’t surprised that it’s pretty low since I don’t tweet regularly. Maybe that’ll improve after I finish reading The Tao of Twitter and I implement these ideas. To find out what’s been tweeted recently, you can go to Local Chirps and input a location.

Certainly a library, museum or other non-profit could benefit from an effective Twitter account and Schaefer’s ideas can make their tweets effective.

Note: Mark Schaefer’s Twitter account is


Schaefer, M. W. (2012). The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.


Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Practical


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9 responses to “Thoughts on Schaefer’s “The Tao of Twitter”

  1. Dean Giustini

    February 13, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Well done


  2. smkelly

    February 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I’ve found that after following just a few of Schaefer’s tips, I’m gaining followers daily. I don’t have a professional goal for using Twitter so I’m ambivalent about this. The more I use Twitter, the less I see it as merely a way to communicate with friends. I see it as a vast cocktail party where you can strike up a conversation with almost anyone.


  3. nrow

    February 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I too am a new user of Twitter. Years ago when I first heard of Twitter I thought it was a glorified facebook status update that would just be another way for people to tell the world about their (usually) dull lives. Since joining Twitter my opinion has totally changed. I’m amazed at how much I use it. Not so much to tweet my own opinions and ideas but to get news and updates. I don’t know why I am so amazed that I find Twitter useful (after all a LOT of others discovered it was a useful tool before me) but still… it’s pretty cool way to get information quickly.


    • smkelly

      February 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      I do feel we discover new affordances all the time with Twitter and other Social Media. I’ve started using Twitter while I watch a political debate or TV program like Downton Abbey. Viewing’s enhanced by this social exchange and it doesn’t seem a distraction as it’s controllable.


  4. saraha

    February 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Interesting how engaged Twitter users are compared to Facebook; I think I need to get more involved in it!

    Just a fun Twitter-tracking site: A co-worker recently sent me a link to the strangely addictive Tweetping – – that shows Tweets all over the world in real time.


  5. smkelly

    February 21, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Since implementing Schaefer’s suggestions, just some of them so far, I’ve gotten 3 or 4 new followers per day.

    It was also cool that after sharing a classmate’s link to a story on blind dates with books, my library replied saying they’d done that too. It’s good to see that they’re listening/reading. It is a two way street.


  6. tarynjones

    February 22, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Thanks for blogging about this! I think I’m going to have to go and read the book. I have never been big on Twitter (except when traveling), although I’m starting to see its potentials more for business.


  7. gzaitzeff

    March 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for the informative review. Based on your recommendations, I ordered the Tao of Twitter. Have you read anything else or do you follow anybody that you find particularly knowledgeable about other forms of social media?


  8. smkelly

    March 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I have started following @gwynethjones a.k.a. The Daring Librarian, Scott McLeod @mcleod, Judy Gressel, @judygressel. She’s the librarian I interviewed for the Create Module. I’ve gone a bit wild with the following and am trying to do more with Twitter.

    It’s good to scan and I find good articles and information turns up.


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