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Is Ghost Tweeting wrong? – An Interview with Guy Kawasaki

interview guy kawasaki

It’s not often you get to interview someone of Guy Kawasaki’s stature once, let alone twice! Guy was great enough to find the time to answer a few more questions between running and commanding an army of over 110,000 Twitter followers. I first interviewed Guy back in January but this time we get to hear his thoughts about the ‘ghost tweeting‘ issue and the numbers game on Twitter, while he also has a few questions for you entrepreneurs out there.

There has been a lot of talk since our last interview about ‘ghost tweeting’ and how you allow other people to contribute to your stream.  What is your take on this issue?

guy kawasaki twitter
I was surprised by the reaction of a few people. Essentially, my two primary ghosts were providing me leads that I turned into tweets: one was sending me suggestions that I always used and another was running Truemors which I had set up with Twitterfeed to go into my Twitter account anyway.

In the case of the former, I wanted to be more efficient and just let her post as me. In the case of the latter, she left Truemors, so I jumped at the opportunity to get her to help me. When this all occurred, I disclosed that I was using ghosts when many people asked me how I could be so prolific.

People should look at it this way: Who else cares so much about high-content tweets that he’s willing to pay people to find good stuff? Perhaps I’m a pioneer in taking Twitter this seriously–I’m like the first people who hired professional designers to create websites!

What are your thoughts on the obsession with getting more and more followers? People are clearly viewing Twitter as ‘quantity over quality’.  Perhaps it is the language used? Gaining followers (instead of gaining ‘friends’ with Facebook and MySpace of the past) has affected people’s egos and is warping this social community.

guy kawasaki twitter
You’re talking to the wrong Guy. I’m all about increasing the number of followers because I use Twitter as a marketing tool. The more people who follow me, the more effective Twitter is for me, so it’s a numbers game for me.

Admittedly, this approach isn’t for everyone, but what’s interesting are the self-appointed experts who “know” how people should use Twitter. Today, a person with seven followers who has tweeted four times even admonished me for my tweets with links. He told me that I was ruining Twitter. Holy kaw!

Twitter is pretty much mainstream now, how soon will the ‘web geeks’ and innovators abandon Twitter for the next new thing?

guy kawasaki twitter
I don’t know if they will, or can, abandon Twitter. I know that I cannot abandon Twitter for another service because my 110,000 followers won’t go with me. You could make the case that these folks “abandoned” their websites for blogs and their blogs for Twitter, but I haven’t seen the number of websites and blogs implode.

How will this then change the Twitter community left behind?

guy kawasaki twitter
If it happens, and it’s a big if, I don’t think it will matter. This is like saying twenty years ago, “What will the Internet be like if the Arpanet scientists don’t use it anymore?” Most Internet users don’t even know what Arpanet is.

What is your take on celebrities using Twitter?

guy kawasaki twitter
Twitter is a platform. The more the merrier. This is like asking, “What’s your take on celebrities using the Internet?” Or, “What’s your take on celebrities using cell phones?”

Do you think you will eventually get bored of Twitter and social media in general?

guy kawasaki twitter
Perhaps. For example, if I strike it rich, would I tweet as much? Nope. But then maybe I’ll change my tweets to the “my cat rolled over” genre, or I’ll hire myself out as a ghost tweeter just for grins.

In what ways are the businesses who hear ‘You have to be on twitter’ using it ineffectively?

guy kawasaki twitter
I don’t really know. Mostly I come across companies that use it well. Life is too short to look for incompetence.

Are there any businesses using Twitter in a creative and effective way that you have seen?

guy kawasaki twitter
Many companies are using it well: @Zappos for extending its brand, @Comcastcares for service, and @Amazondeals for promoting deals. I like these kinds of uses.

If the Internet is really killing print, how do you think The New York Times, for example, will make money in 10 years time? Surely advertisers will eventually realise that banner ads and interruption marketing isn’t the way to go?

guy kawasaki twitter
People need to differentiate between “print” and “journalism”. Print is in trouble because of the economics of killing trees, putting ink on paper, and physical distribution. However, I hear that the Village Voice is doing well in the ink business, so maybe the death of ink is exaggerated.

I hope that “journalism” doesn’t go away–by journalism I mean in-depth, researched, and thought-thru stuff like what the New York Times, NPR, BBS, and Washington Post do.

Twitter is great to find out about events like a plane landing on the Hudson, but it’s not great for investigative journalism. There is more to hardcore news than simply tweeting about something that you saw happen. And let us not forget: so far the New York Times has generated more revenue than Twitter.

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.

What are the most fascinating apps you are using right now?

guy kawasaki twitter
“Fascinating” apps? That’s a high bar. The really cool stuff is happening in iPhone apps. The desktop world is boring these days.

You have conducted countless interviews and surely get asked all the time ‘What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?’. Instead I want to know if there’s anything you would like to ask the world of entrepreneurs? Anything you are struggling with or can’t wrap your head around?

guy kawasaki twitter
This is an excellent question. Here’s a list of things I’d like to ask entrepreneurs:

1) Why do you think venture capitalists will sign non-disclosure agreements?

2) Why do you try to use sixty PowerPoint slides in a one-hour meeting?

3) Do you really believe that venture capitalists can add value to your company?

4) Why do every one of you think your business is “revolutionary”?

5) Why do you believe that the wireframes and prototype that you cobbled together is better architected than Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple (pick any big company)?

6) Do you really believe beta sites when they tell you that they “love” your product?

7) How can you create a forecast that shows you will generate more sales in the first five years of operation than any other company in the history of man?

8 ) Why do you believe you and your co-founders are “proven entrepreneurs” when you’ve never been successful as an entrepreneur?

When was the last time you had an apricot?

guy kawasaki twitter
I have no idea. I do love apricots but not enough to remember when I last ate one. The next time I eat one, I’ll tweet about it.


Thanks Guy, I really appreciate you taking the time! Be sure and follow Guy on Twitter and check out Make sure and check out the AllTop Announcements Blog to keep updated with all the happenings over there also.

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Comments (4)

  1. Kristen

    28 Apr

    I make a living primarily as a ghost writer, and lately that includes blogging and, of course, twittering. In most cases those I am working for have made it known that they use ghost writers, etc. However in a few cases it’s not known. And in these cases I’ve been a bit torn. On the one hand, they build their base, the number of followers increases, and they get the end result they want. On the other, they don’t pay attention to half the things I tweet and I wonder what would happen if someone asked them a question about a tweet topic? Could they answer it? I’m all for ghost writing in any form, obviously, since it’s my job, but I would ask that people use ghost writers in addition to writing on their own. It may make it a little more difficult for us ghosts to get the right tone and voice down, but in the long run, those we’re ghosting for benefit. PS that’s my own twitter id, no ghosts there!

  2. Great post, love the question – if there’s anything GK would like to ask the world of entrepreneurs?


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