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October 16, 2009

Twitterville: A (Twittered) interview with Shel Israel

Twitterville Shel Israel has written a great book, Twitterville, that really shows how businesses large and small can use Twitter as a communications tool. I loved it because of the richness of the stories. Worth your time.

We conducted an experiment -- we did an interview via Twitter earlier today. As one of our spectators, rrupinski, commented: "Interesting experiment - but like watching conversation by telegraph." I found the content interesting, but the delay between when tweets are entered and when they appear made this challenging. Twitter has the reputation of being real-time, and it is a very immediate medium, but measured in minutes, not in seconds. Anyway, as a Groundswell blog reader you get to see the results neatly packaged up for your reading pleasure, below. (This is basically a transcript, but I've made edits to assemble sentences together, fixed spelling, and removed irrelevant comments. But you can still see the abbreviated Twitter style showing through.) My questions are in bold.

jbernoff: Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to our Twinterview with @shelisrael, the author of Twitterville. http://bit.ly/2qVoc If you want to follow the conversation, I recommend this search on Twitter: http://bit.ly/3XTob3

jbernoff Let's get started. First Q: There are already lots and lots of books on social media. Why write another?

shelisrael: The stories of the business & people who have thrived in the community. Hopefully it will give readers some ideas. 

jbernoff I found the stories in the book great and insightful. But is Twitter, one tool, worth a whole book? Why?

Great question Josh. Last I checked there were 24 books on Twitter at AMZN. I regret to say that most of them are damned good. What makes mine different from the other 23 is I try to tell you the stories mostly of business folk who have succeeded on twitter. What make my book unique is the story-telling approach

jbernoff: So, sum it up for us. What would you say are the three to five biggest takeaways from the book?

shelisrael: 1. Twitter more closely emulates real life behavior online than anything that preceded it. 2. It's a tool of communications not marketing 3. It works best in many cases w/other SM [social media] tools. 4. It's as diverse in application as the telephone or email. 5. In a few years a biz without twitter will be like a biz without phone.

jbernoff: Interesting what you say about Twitter being a comm tool. Is Twitter really best for marketing, or for customer service?

shelisrael: Comcast shows a killer app for support. CarlsJr feels it is succeeding with marketing to young males with attitude. Narrowing Twitterville to just 1 biz function is like the blind men describing an elephant.

jbernoff: As writers, you and I know that big thoughts need concentration. But Twitter is conversational. What would you say to the argument that online conversation is destroying our ability to concentrate?

shelisrael: I think those studies should be taken with a grain of salt. Through history "experts" have produced studies about cars, cellphones, email, the web. Last week a study said SM is like cigarettes. All have some truth to them; none are THE truth. All innovation carries unfortunate consequences; not enough to stop progress.

jbernoff: My next book is on the power that technology gives individuals, both employees and customers. How do you think Twitter contributes to empowering individuals? What changes will this cause?

shelisrael: Great book idea Josh. I see the power of the individual in SM enhanced by the network. We are all network nodes. It's a human application of Metcalfe's Law. We are all exponentially empowered as individuals.

jbernoff: What happens with Twitter when employers don’t trust their employees?

shelisrael: Compaies that have not learned to hire & maintain employees they CAN trust are likely to lose best to wiser employers in better economic times.

jbernoff: What’s the #socialnetiquette of using Twitter both professionally and personally? It can be confusing.

shelisrael: I think netiquette & ethics remain constant regardless of the venue. Rudeness at a social gathering looks the same in SM.

jbernoff: I agree in general about #socialnetiquette. But professionals are talking about personal stuff. Can get a bit dicey.

jbernoff: Twitter makes you egotistical. Twitter makes you humble. Which is it?

shelisrael: I don't think Twitter makes you anything that you aren't already. You just have more witnesses for better or worse.

jbernoff: My short review: Read Twitterville. This little book will change the way you think about 140 characters, marketing, and yourself.


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Gautam Ramdurai

This was probably the first ever "twinterview" and although it takes a little getting used to, it was fun. Also, it was the perfect place to talk about "Twitterville".

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