No Bull Shiitake: Why I follow Guy Kawasaki

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Guy Kawasaki

There are lots of tools and articles that provide recommendations of people to follow on Twitter and elsewhere in the Social Mediaverse.

But few provide the why. For new users and experienced alike, finding new and interesting people to follow is part of the excitement of being engaged in Social Media / Networking. Only yesterday I spoke with someone who considered themselves what could best be defined as an “intermediate” level user, who had never heard of Chris Brogan, and was very grateful that I could provide a recommendation for both Chris’ blog and to follow him on Twitter.

So why do I follow these particular people? Engagement. For me there are a few people who not only provide great material but actually bother to engage with their followers in a way that humanizes the conversation. In effect brings the “Social” emphasis to the fore.

Yesterday I wrote about the metrics that are often applied to determining who the “Influencers” are in Social Media and how flawed I believe those metrics to be. I also proposed a new measure – Engagement Factor, based on the level of “conversation” occurring between these Influencers and their audience.

Chris Brogan wrote on his blog about how he uses Twitter at volume. He talks about the four keys to his use of Twitter as being:

  • Be Helpful
  • Be Informative
  • Be Human
  • Be Responsive

He goes on to mention that being helpful is sometimes particularly difficult, with 20,000 follows if only 1% direct message him asking for help, he receives 200 requests in a day. If his only task in life were to answer those requests he might just make it, but of course that isn’t his only job, he has a full time job and is a prolific writer, so sometimes people get disappointed.

Yesterday I direct messaged Guy Kawasaki, twice, he responded both times. Again this is someone that has more than 20,000 followers. I asked him to take a look at yesterday’s post and give me his thoughts – how many requests does he get like that a day? But he took the time to review it, and point out that my proposed metric didn’t account for direct messages (I had covered that in the post) which was a fair comment, he also mentioned that he replies to around 50 – 60 DM’s a day.

Darren Rowse, the author of Problogger, is another who actually takes the time to respond to direct messages. What unifies these writers is that they all espouse the need for engagement in Social Media, they talk about it on their blogs, they talk about it on Twitter, they teach it to their paying customers, but most importantly they actually practice it. That for me is the reason to follow someone who the Social Mediaverse dubs a “rockstar”.

Take these things in context, just because you DM, email or @reply to one of these people and they don’t reply doesn’t mean they aren’t engaging with you. Before you hit send, think about your message. Is your message simply a method of getting you attention?

Guy Kawasaki in his recent post on attracting more Twitter follows says:

Send @ messages to the smores. They probably won’t answer you, but that’s okay. All you want to do is appear like you have a relationship with them to enhance your credibility. The theory is, “If she is tweeting with @scobleizeer, she must be worth following.” Bull shiitake logic, admittedly, but it helps. To bastardize what a famous PR person once told me, “It’s not who you know. It’s who appears to know you.”

If this is the strategy you are following, then don’t be surprised that they don’t answer you. If you are expecting an answer then think about what it is you are asking of them. You want them to review your blog – whats the content really like, what is the fit between your blog and their writing?, You want them to come to your event – whats the reason you want them to do that? In other words, just because they are the “rockstars” who promote engagement don’t imagine for one minute that engagement is a one way street. If you can’t be bothered to do your research and engage with them ask yourself why they should engage with you. At a recent Tweetup in Austin, Robert Scoble talked about why he left LinkedIn, he was tired of people simply wanting to connect with him so he would introduce them to someone beneficial in his network. That isn’t engagement that’s exploitation.

Image by hawaii via Flickr
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