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How do you Twitter: Smashing Magazine?

Every day for the next week or so I will be interviewing a variety of marketers, advertisers, bloggers, SEO consultants, businesses, artists and Internet gurus on the latest micro blogging sensation to hit the interwebs, Twitter.

Popular website Smashing Magazine holds various treasures for all web designers including tutorials, design articles and loads of freebies. Vitaly Friedman, the man with his finger on the button at SM, was good enough to answer a few questions about how the huge website uses Twitter.

When did you first set foot into the Twitter world?

I think it was the beginning of August or something. We were aware of various lifestreaming applications for a couple of months and we just decided to try it out and see how it works. To be honest, I was quite sceptical in the very beginning, because I missed the real-time chatting feature of Twitter – something I’ve got used to in Google Talk etc. But I got used to it. And we use Twitter almost every day now.

Do you think every business should consider using Twitter for self promotion and interaction with customers?

Well, I am not a person who believes that it is the technology that delivers success to a company. I think that business can perfectly exist and flourish without Twitter if they come up with some sound system for feedback management and support management. Twitter can help, of course, but it’s up to the business – the way they organize communication and the philosophy of the company.

You have gathered quite a large following on Twitter.  What advice would you give to other’s wishing to do the same?

First of all, our following is not that large. We use Twitter to keep the connection with our readers, to be able to just quickly ask their opinions, listen to their suggestions, spread some useful links and maybe help out.  Our readers are very important to us and we do the best we can to make sure that they feel comfortable with Smashing Magazine and that we meet their expectations.

So the advice is just: listen. Listen to what your audience has to say, and pay attention to their needs. If you don’t have an audience yet, just start discussions with people, build connections and relationships, share your knowledge and feel free to ask for help. The design community is great these days and I am sure that’s not a problem to build solid connections within months.

Will we still be tweeting in 5 years time?

Maybe, but definitely not the way we do it now. The ubiquitous Web is coming, with mobile devices transmitting information about us every second. For instance, if you go to a concert, you won’t have to explicitly twitter about it – mobile devices will perfectly take care of it.

You follow a tiny number of people compared to your large following.  How do you decide who makes the cut?

Honestly speaking, we just can not afford following too many people.  We are overwhelmed with e-mails and it’s hard to focus on work if every second a new tweet appears. Still, we do follow some professionals just to know what’s going on in the industry, what are the needs of developers, what can be useful for our future posts.

How important are social media tools like Twitter to your business?

First of all, it’s an important tool to keep connected with our community. As I have written before, we use Twitter to find out how well we manage to meet our readers’ needs and what we can do to improve the quality of the magazine.

From your blog and Twitter posts, you clearly value your customers opinions and interact with them regularly.  Do you think this is a vital part to running a successful website like Smashing Magazine?

Absolutely! That was the reason we started twittering in the first place.

What was your first tweet? 10 points if it was ‘Checking out Twitter’ :)

No :-P It was “New post on Smashing Magazine – Fervens: A Free WordPress Theme,“, a release of one of our WordPress themes.

Are we losing our ‘real life’ social skills because of the increase in social media tools?

A tough one. No, not necessarily. It depends on the person who is using the technology. You see, we, humans, just love to blame technology for everything bad that happens to us – even if we are the cause of it. I am pretty sure that it’s up to every person to decide how important “real life” social skills are to him/to her.

Social media has made us more connected. I am pretty sure that without it we wouldn’t have this conversation, Paddy. It made it possible to communicate on a completely different level. And it made it possible for our friends and relatives to better capture our habits, our interests and – all in all – our regular life.

But one should not forget “real life” social skills, of course. For instance, sometimes I have social-free days when SM doesn’t twitter, doesn’t publish anything, when the computer remains turned off. That’s great times when you meet people, discussing important and unimportant things with them, enjoy the time passing by or gain knowledge by reading books and magazines. The one lesson I learned is that it’s really important to turn off sometimes. It helps a lot and it makes it possible to find new perspectives and gain new ideas – something you would probably never think of otherwise.

If you could only follow one person on Twitter, who would it be and why?

I don’t know, really. Let’s just hope that it will not come to that ;)


Thanks Vitaly! It was great to share a conversation with someone who runs such a successful website.  Make sure and follow @SmashingMag for the articles, freebies and design news.  Trust me, if you are a web designer, you need to be following these guys!

Tomorrow Tim ‘Emerging Technologies Master’ O’Reilly will be sharing his views on Twitter.

Comments (13)

  1. Herta Selzer

    24 Dec

    Hi, what blog platform is this? Can I download it for free or..? I would really love it if you could answer this question! Thanks in advance!


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