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How Do You Twitter: Guy Kawasaki?

interview guy kawasaki

Another Twitter interview with an Internet guru, this time with Guy Kawasaki, writer and co-founder of digital magazine rack

How can you trust a big name brand on Twitter? You never know who is tweeting, it could be anyone from the CEO to an intern.

guy kawasaki twitter
Why does it matter who is doing the tweeting? Either the content is good or not good. I’d rather follow a smart intern tweeting for a CEO than an dumb CEO tweeting for himself or herself.  Twitter is great that way: Everybody, no matter who they are, gets 140 characters. Then you have to earn your followers and keep earning their allegiance with every tweet.

You co-founded AllTop, a fantastic online magazine.  Do you feel the Internet is really killing print?

guy kawasaki twitter
I hate to say this, but the Internet is killing print. If this wasn’t bad enough, now we’re in a recession. Still, I’d rather be a newspaper than a car company making SUVs. The thing to do is separate “print” from “journalism.” Let’s hope that the latter will prevail.

Will we still be tweeting in 5 years time?

guy kawasaki twitter
I hope that I’m not. Or at least that I’m just tweeting for the sheer pleasure of it–about stuff like my cat rolling over and the line at Starbucks.

When people ask you ‘Where were you when Obama was elected?’, will your answer be ‘On Twitter’?

guy kawasaki twitter
Yeah, except that doesn’t really say much because I’m always on Twitter. I was tweeting my usual links to cool stuff on election night and several people criticized me for tweeting on such a “special day.”  I voted for Obama, and I am very hopeful about what he can do, but right now, people are judging Bush’s results against Obama’s intentions. The work is only beginning. Every day starting Tuesday is a special day.

Does AllTop benefit a lot from Twitter?

guy kawasaki twitter
This is like asking if Hawaii benefits from the surf or Aspen from the snow. Twitter is making Alltop. The Twitter community suggests topics, suggests feeds for the topics, and then spreads the word about Alltop. Alltop wouldn’t be nearly what it is without Twitter.

Did you find out about US Airways Flight 1549 crashing into the Hudson on Twitter or on the news?

guy kawasaki twitter
I found out via a CNN email alert, but I love the fact that just about wherever news happens these days, someone on Twitter is reporting on it.

Should every business be using social media tools in some form in 2009?

guy kawasaki twitter
“Every” is a strong word, but most businesses with a significant online presence should use social media tools. For example, I don’t think that your corner Shell service station needs to be on Twitter even if the Shell station has a web site to provide its location and hours.

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

guy kawasaki twitter
I could make the case either way. In one sense, if you’re glued to a monitor and never get out, then your real-life social skills will decline. However, email and social media tools enable me to connect with thousands of people. I could not do this with only face-to-face meetings.  I can tweet that I am going to be in many cities in the world and organize a tweetup. I’ve done this in Istanbul, Moscow, Mumbai, and Honolulu so far. In this sense, social media is increase social skills–to the degree that a tweetup is social.

What are your thoughts on the power of the ‘Retweet’?

guy kawasaki twitter
Do you know the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? Now the operative saying is, “Retweeting is the sincerest form of flattery.” Using various techniques, one can gain followers, but it’s much harder to game retweeting because people either like what you tweet and spread it or they don’t. Here is the place for checking retweeting.

I’m sure people will figure out a way to game retweeting too but until they do, there is no better measure of the quality of a person’s tweets than retweeting. This is especially true if you believe that the number of followers doesn’t necessarily increase the number of retweets. You would think that the more followers you have, the more retweets you’ll get, but I don’t think that’s true.

You have almost 50,000 followers on Twitter, what an achievement!  How did you get up there?

guy kawasaki twitter
One fascinating tweet at a time. :-)

How do you tweet so much? It seems like you tweet 24/7.

guy kawasaki twitter
This is the most common question that I face. I have several things going on.

First, I use a Twitterfeed from the Alltop announcements blog, but this is only one per day or so. These tweets only announce the availability of new Alltop topics.

Second, I have a Twitterfeed from Truemors. Any story that is posted at Truemors is tweeted because I have such confidence in Annie Colbert, the editor of Truemors. She always puts out interesting, well-written stuff. This accounts for ten to fifteen tweets per day.

Third, there are two people who tweet on my behalf. One, @amoxcalli, is a grandmother in LA who has an exquisite eye for the interesting and controversial. She adds about five tweets per day. The other is @billmeade. He is the best beta tester of books that I have ever met. I wish he would do more, but he does about one tweet every two days or so.

Fourth, the rest is me. I scour the web looking for interesting stuff. I use email newsletters as well as StumbleUpon. However, the bulk of what I find is through Alltop–specifically, mostpopular.alltop, psychology.alltop, science.alltop, marketing.alltop, and neuroscience.alltop. This accounts for another fifteen or twenty tweets per day. Basically, when I’m on a computer, I’m tweeting.

Why do you tweet so much through all these methods?

guy kawasaki twitter
Two reasons. First, I enjoy pointing people to interesting and cool stuff. Second, I tweet so much to earn the privilege of promoting Alltop to my followers. To be interesting to them, my tweets answer the question, “What is interesting?” not “What are you doing?” I’m like PBS: if it didn’t have such great content, no one would tolerate its fund-raising telethons.

Thus, Twitter is not a “social toy” for me–it’s a marketing weapon. There is no a better way that I know of to instantly and cheaply reach tens of thousands of people. If you believe Twinfluence, I can reach 19,000,000 people–though that number is way high because it counts the same people over and over.

If you could only follow one person’s updates, who would it be and why?

guy kawasaki twitter
Yours if you will follow me back.


Thanks Guy! Again a fascinating insight into the mind of a great twitterer.  I would encourage everone to follow Guy on Twitter and check out, where there’s bound to be a page for whatever you are into.  Personally, my homepage is  Make sure and check out the AllTop Announcements Blog to keep updated with this brilliant service.

Oh, and you can also follow me on Twitter @paddydonnelly :)

Comments (52)

  1. Great interview. I love the line about a smart intern rather than a dumb CEO. How true! The cool thing about social media is that titles carry no weight.

    I’m not sure I agree with the Internet killing print. Print is killing print because they ceased to be relevant. Newspapers in particular, with one or two exceptions, were so paranoid about the Internet that they tried to ignore it instead of embracing it. They were worried about ad revenues instead of exploring the potential of multi media, interactive journalism, and combo ads that served their advertisers.

  2. Great article, I like the twitter like organization of how the conversation progressed. Although I do have one question, a DM on twitter or a @reply would be best for answering this.

    How are all of these people tweeting for you Guy? Do they use their own accounts and you just RT what they tweet? Or what? Maybe i’m just confused. Cheers on the great article though, very happy to see that somehow you are explaining all of this madness and your popularity and breadth and depth of knowledge for your various tweets.


  3. Great interview with well thought out questions — nice work. I look forward to more. Thank you.

  4. guy is fascinating! i saw him twittering through the “welcome to macintosh” movie premiere last week during Macworld in san francisco & he twittered through the Q&A he was in a panel after the movie, including steve wozniak.

  5. Interesting interview Paddy

    Do you believe many people outsource their tweeting?

    Is this the norm?



  6. Paddy

    18 Jan

    @Jim – Good point Jim, I think it does have a lot to with print not evolving with the times. It will be interesting (and depressing) if, in 20 years time, some people will never be able to pick up a printed copy of The NY Times, except in a museum. :s

    @BrianJKing – I’m not sure what system Guy uses, but it was interesting to find out that it’s not just him.

    @Andy – I have no idea, I’d say a lot of the ‘big boys’ like Britney, Coldplay etc do of course, but I have so much more respect for people like Stephen Fry who obviously tweets himself.

  7. I am a fan of Guy’s and like the fact that he takes the time to answer questions from “the floor” of the twittersphere. He gets the respect because he give it mutually. Oh and his links are of value and not just shouting “look at me and my” sure he has those types of tweets but there are mixed in with the other links. I refer to both Guy and Chris Brogan in my seminars on how brands and business should be using social networking site like Twitter.


    PS I like the Twitter ID forom field. Is that a WP Plugin?

  8. Good interview, I’ve always admired Guy ever since he was the chief evangelist at Apple. The thing I really like is that he is using these tools to build a business and there is a lot to learn from him. I do feel that Guy is using Twitter in a much more ‘mass market’ way that probably gets in the way of him connecting with like minded people though. RT may be hard to game but Guy is participating in the easiest way to game twitter which is “follow me and I will follow you back”, a practice which I think lowers the quality of Twitter itself as it encourages a lot of spammers and sheisters.

    That being said I think one of the amazing things about twitter is you can use it how ever you want, and in the end the only contract is between you and your followers.

    @paddy yes, Stephen Fry is amazing :)

  9. Not to self ‘Do not add the ‘@’ symbol in the twitter id forum field as you get and “@@” and a broken link!

  10. Paddy

    18 Jan

    @JP – Yeah it’s a WP Plugin called TwitTip ID. It does fix the link if you comment again, replacing your mistake :)

  11. Good interview, Paddy. To Guy’s point, you separated Journalism from Print.

    I appreciate Guy’s implementation of Twitterfeed with Alltop Announcement blog. The single biggest reason I stop following people is their misuse of Twitterfeed which results in a blizzard of poorly written leads to uninteresting blog posts.

  12. Great interview!

    I actually missed out on that Istanbul tweetup, was too busy with other things. A real pity.

    Man, what more perfect line to finish the interview than the one he said. No wonder the guy’s so popular. ;-)

  13. excellent interview. i really learned a lot from this piece, as i do from Guy’s tweets.

  14. Thanks for the helpful interview. I’ve been doing the Twitter thing about three weeks and this article increased my understanding of what Twitter really is. Believe it or not I was terrified to make my first Tweet. But I am very glad I did. I have learned a ton in three weeks and now they can’t shut me up.

  15. Great interview, Guy. I’ve just signed up for’s updates.


  16. Kevin Novak

    19 Jan

    I believe it matters who tweets on your behalf because this is a social network built on individuals. My expectation is that there is a person at the end of an identity. Your profile picture represents a single person, you, although it may more closely be described as an organization with you leading. I appreciate your candor in revealing those who help you tweet. It’s nice to know all that content requires the effort of a small team.

  17. Guy is one of the first few people I followed when I joined twitter. And through his tweets, I was able to pick up the tactic to get myself started on the whole twitter thing! The best part is there’s alot of content in his links that are valuable and helps in recreating more content.

    The idea of separating journalism and print is evoking… I think an entire article can be written on that.

  18. Guy makes a good point by exchanging the question, “what are you doing” with “what is interesting”, even though we hope these aren’t always two different things.

    Thanks for getting this interview done, Paddy. I, probably as many others, have been wondering where all those high quality tweets come from. Way to go, AllTop.

  19. Mark

    19 Jan

    Guy is a true twitter monster!

    Ever since I subscribed to him I get his updates on TwitterFox showing up all the time… pretty informative stuff though!

  20. Nice interview! Didn’t realise he had people tweeting on his behalf.

  21. Paddy

    19 Jan

    Thanks everyone,

    @Lee – Yep, world exclusive. You heard it here first folks! :)

  22. For me, Guy tweets too much.

    I’d prefer fewer tweets — if I wanted the Truemors feed, I’d get it myself.

    I do still follow him but I don’t have the confidence I’d have with fewer tweets.

  23. What an interesting interview. GK is a fantastic person with a great personality.

    And what an eye his has on marketing.

    Thank you.


  24. Interesting interview. A fascinating insight into one person’s successful use of Twitter.

    Was this over email? If so maybe that’s the modern way to give interviews, it is so much harder to hyperlink one’s words vocally. ;-)

  25. I stalk Guy so thanks for feeding me my Guy fix today. It’s fun to follow him outside, as well as inside, Twitter.

  26. Always love any conversation I get to listen to with Guy… thanks for sharing.

    We referred on our blog to his post…
    “…pithy comments and frank banter on the Twitter phenom, check out this chat with marketing genius and straight talker Guy Kawasaki as he describes his own Twitter habits.”

  27. So many great quotes from Guy here… love especially “Twitter is not a “social toy” for me–it’s a marketing weapon.” It’s great to hear someone talk straight about how they use this medium for more than just “connecting”. Yes, that’s part of it, but it is so much more powerful than that! Great interview, thanks so much for sharing.

  28. I’ve always admired Guy Kawasaki for his candidness and tiny bit of irreverence, especially when it came to the PC, this is way back more than 20 years ago when he wrote for Macworld magazine (I think it was).

    He DOES indeed have interesting Tweets!

  29. It is a great interview. I agree that it’s a powerful marketing tool and beyond that it’s a great tool anyway. But I just wonder about the balance between time browsing the net to find good stuff to twit and the real benefit of doing that so heavily.
    Thanks to Guy Kawasaki I started to twit again after months of inactivity. What he wrote convinced me about the power of a tool like twitter but at the same time I just try to maintain a controlled balance about how much time do I spend using it.

  30. Kawasaki is a spammer

    27 Mar

    The problem with Guy is that he’s a spammer and has the rocks to say it out loud here at about the 15:34 mark

  31. When I first saw this quote from Guy Kawasaki I was disgusted and actually surprised: “Why does it matter who is doing the tweeting? Either the content is good or not good. I’d rather follow a smart intern tweeting for a CEO than a dumb CEO tweeting for himself or herself.”

    It matters who’s doing the twittering because when I see a picture next to the dialog box I believe the picture represents the person who is doing the communication.

    When President Obama became our President his twittering simply stopped because he knew the responsibility of the office would not allow him to continue to use this method of communication.

    Mr. Kawasaki I’d rather follow a CEO who tells the truth. If the CEO does his/her own tweets then I have the ability to judge whether I think the CEO is the “sharpest or dullest crayon in the box.”

    Transparent leadership is important to President Obama, Tony Hseih CEO of Zappos and other “official leaders” who display honesty and integrity on a daily basis.

    I’m glad Mr. Kawasaki has now been honest about his dishonesty. Yes, you do have to earn your followers and keep earning their allegiance with every tweet. I’d rather have quality rather than quantity. Now with this information I’m going to use the power of my choice and “un-follow” Guy Kawasaki.

    “We are associated by the company we keep.”

  32. Brett

    29 Mar

    Sadly i think i will be taking Guy off my list. His Tweet although interesting have been overkill and I think that the dishonesty of him not posting everything is bad for twitter.

  33. I don’t think he is a spammer. Some of his twits are interesting, some other twits are not. But that’s a personal opinion, so maybe the twits I consider not interesting to me, are interesting to someone else.

    Alltop is a nice tool and he is using twitter to promote it and at the same time, to provide links to some topics that may be useful. As you said, you have the power to follow him or not, it’s your choice. By the way, spam is not a choice, spam is something that reach our emailbox and mailbox. Not only the electronic one. Think about the paper that reach the mailbox with publicity. Tons of paper wasted every day. I never signing to or push any “follow” button to receive spam.

    So it’s your choice to follow him or not, but don’t call him spammer just because he has thousands of followers and because he use twitter to promote his business.


    I don’t agree with your point. I really don’t care who is saying it. I care about what is he/she saying. The content, the logical process, the common sense is the important point. Who say it? I don’t care.
    If I care that means that I’m not thinking about the words and the meaning of those words, but instead, I’m listen to the person that say those words. Do you think this is something objective? Of course it’s not.
    Listen to somebody words and only the words, not the aspect, the power, the color, the position, the degrees or the money he/her has is the first step to became an objective listener.

  34. >>When President Obama became our President his twittering simply stopped because he knew the responsibility of the office would not allow him to continue to use this method of communication.<<

    Wow. How many people actually believe Mr. Obama was personally sending tweets? Did I miss something?

    My take was that his “people” were tweeting for him all along. After the election there was no more need for this campaign effort.

    Oh, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of Guy Kawasaki and I’ve signed over my Twitter account for occasional ghost tweets authored by Alltop.

  35. Pietro,

    Thanks for your response. I’m discovering some folks care who they think is sending the comments and some don’t.

    If you have a great staff who can represent you well maybe there might be some way to recognize the work of a staff member – guest contributor.

    Great People and Great Organizations are able to attract remarkable talent.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts. As Flip Wilson said “Different Strokes for Differnt Folks.”

    I hope you have great week.


  36. Matej Varga

    4 May

    Very nice and interesting interview !

    Guy is my man !


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