Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Is Ghost Tweeting wrong? – An Interview with Guy Kawasaki

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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.

Follow Me

Follow me on Twitter @paddydonnelly to find out first about future interviews and hear the daily ramblings of an Irishman in Belgium.

Interview with Jason Sadler from I Wear Your Shirt

Friday, April 10th, 2009

More Links

I Wear Your
I Wear Your Shirt on Twitter
My day on I Wear Your Shirt
Thought and Theory

Follow @paddydonnelly for more interviews!

How Do You Twitter: Tim Van Damme?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Links from the video

@MaxVoltar on Twitter
MaxVoltar Blog
Made By Elephant

How Do You Twitter: Niall Harbison?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

niall harbison twitter

Super chef, blogger and entrepreneur who has actually been in the Dragon’s Den! Without further ado, I give you Niall Harbison.

I guess a lot of people know you as ‘that fella who was on Dragon’s Den’. :) But who is @niallharbison?

niall harbison twitter
If I had a penny for every person who asked me was Peter Jones as tall in real like I could retire and lead a comfortable life. I used to work for billionaires as their private chef flying around the world cooking for them. While doing that I realized there was huge potential for online cooking videos so left the world of the rich and famous to move back to Ireland and launch Lookandtaste.

Will we still be tweeting in 5 years time?

niall harbison twitter
I have a feeling we will and as the service evolves I can see it becoming a far more widespread manor of digesting news and sports events from all over the world in real time.

How has Twitter helped you in self promotion and business?

niall harbison twitter
I don’t like to think of it as promoting the business as I think that people who do that on Twitter inevitably fail. Where I do see the value is the massive amount of feedback I get on our site from developers, designers and expert marketers all 100% for free. I also love personalizing the business through Twitter. Smart brands have a human side to them on Twitter and engage with people rather than just trying to push stuff out.

Has benefitted a lot from Twitter?

niall harbison twitter
More than you could ever imagine.

Is it a crime for a business not to be on Twitter in 2009?

niall harbison twitter
The bigger crime is to be on there because you have heard you should be and start spamming people with links to your profile. You can do a lot of damage to your brand on Twitter by using it incorrectly. is a fantastic idea, and so well designed! Do you think there will be an even bigger surge in Twitter creations in 2009 or when will the bubble burst?

niall harbison twitter
I think they are fun to make but people trying to build an entire business out of a twitter app are playing a risky game as Twitter haven’t even monetized their own site yet! I think twitter is sexy at the moment but I can’t see a huge amount of financial gains to be had for 3rd parties.

How can a big name brand be trusted on Twitter?  You don’t know who is tweeting, it could be anyone from the CEO to an intern.

niall harbison twitter
As a rule I wouldn’t really follow big brands. The only area where I think they can add value through twitter is by using it for customer service and feedback. I see it more as a tool for the small boys like us to leverage ourselves up against the big boys.

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

niall harbison twitter
Not at all in fact I think it is the opposite in that I have met 100s of super interesting people through twitter at meet ups that I would never have normally met. I think it is super important to switch the internet off 100% the odd time and take a day off though.

How do you decide who to follow?

niall harbison twitter
I don’t really have any rules apart from I would never follow somebody following a couple of thousand people as I would be suspicious of their motives.

Any advice for someone who just signed up today?

niall harbison twitter
I was getting sick of trying to explain it to people as I would just ramble on and not really get the point across to people so I made this video to answer people’s questions.


Next time you’re in Belgium (which might be in the near future) Niall, there’s a few Duvels on me. Look out for some drunk tweeting then everyone. Also look out for, LookandTaste and Twecipe to find out what Niall is up to. I’m sure I will need to add to this site list as Niall is sure to come up with more fantastic ideas soon!

Further Interviews

I’ve interviewed a whole host of other Internet gurus over the past few weeks including Guy Kawasaki, Mr Tweet, Tim O’Reilly, ProBlogger, Smashing Magazine and Chris Coyier so don’t forget to check them out.

Be sure and follow me at @paddydonnelly if you want to find out first about more exciting Twitter interviews :)

How Do You Twitter: Mr Tweet?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009


Before you ask I have to tell you, yes, Mr Tweet is an actual owl. A 6 foot owl with a very smart shirt and tie. I had the pleasure of interviewing the legendary recommender in all his feathery glory. Here’s what he had to say about Twitter!

Who are you Mr Tweet? (In 140 characters or less :p)

mr tweet
Your personal networking agent, recommending you great people, and of course, recommending YOU to great people. All in all, helping you kick ass. (did i make it in 140?)

How exactly do you work? All complicated algorithms I’m sure but could you explain it to us simple folk?

mr tweet
Well, first and foremost, I think all our users are much smarter than we are. The smart comments and feedback constantly reiterate this again and again!

1) Essentially, we look at what you are tweeting, following to “guess” what your personal interests are.
2) Then we look at what everyone else is tweeting, following to assess who are the great people who are either reputable or sharing good content.

The most mainstream example I can think of is Amazon recommendations. As a side note, recommendations consists of a very significant driver of revenue for them. The vast majority of systems today drive people towards the “popular”, whether it is in terms of content (digg, tweetmeme) or people (check out Twitter’s suggested users feature).

We believe less in popularity, but much much more in personalized relevance. You can see more examples in Influence is in the eye of the audience, (not the beholder) and my Interview with Leo Laporte on MrTweet.

You have over 100,000 followers. Amazing! How did you grow to where you are now?

mr tweet
Haha, sorry to disappoint you, but there is no magic answer here. Mainly via word of mouth. Our users have been extremely active in recommending us to their friends, providing recommendations, etc.

Will we still be tweeting in 5 years time?

mr tweet
I am 100% sure we will still be. Just who will be tweeting, and how often they will be tweeting. A quick scan of the landscape unveils sharp divides across both dimensions.

You have the average moms who are absolutely addicted to Twitter. You have social media folks who sign up, but do not use it ever again. You have the actors who use their “followers” to broadcast, and keep their “following’ list relatively clean.

The traditional definition of “mainstream'” users is already completely undermined. Twitter will be around forever, but it is impossible to predict in what form or shape.

Can a big name brand really be trusted when using Twitter and social media in general?

mr tweet
Haha, depends on who is tweeting and using social media, and how much power they get. Right now, some brands are on Twitter mainly to do damage control (if someone big complains, better respond. If someone small complains, who the $%^& cares). Some are on Twitter to really identify and solve problems for all users.

It is very early, and hence hard to tell who belongs where, but I think it will soon become more clear.

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

mr tweet
Very interesting, but vastly misjudged in the way people are looking at it now. A simplistic measure of “how many retweets @ABC gets” is completely wrong. For example, someone who built a big network regardless of tactics, post sensationalist postings (“McCain found with male hooker”) regardless of substance, and posts a lot will make it up the list, and fast

Internally, we are very careful to use this as a measure. It is much more important who RTs something.

Is there a Mrs Tweet? :)

mr tweet
Haha. Yes. we will reveal their identities in due time.

Do you feel we are losing our ‘real life’ social skills with the rise in social media?

mr tweet
Not at all. I still have coffee with real friends. Social media facilitates the ability to create and maintain weak ties, which means you are not very close, but does not necessarily mean that there is no value in there. In fact, if you look at this classic 1973 sociology paper by Mark Granovetter, most value is being driven by weak ties.

Do you have any exciting plans for 2009?

mr tweet
Haha, we think they are very exciting, but ultimately users will tell us whether these are exciting. =)   Will unveil them soon!

You make thousands of recommendations every second. Who would be your number one recommendation though?

mr tweet
On a purely personal basis, i think @andrew_chen has the best tweets on web apps and entrepreneurship. But once again, it is all about personal relevance. =).


Mr Tweet! It was an absolute pleasure to chat to you. I personally have found so many brilliant twitterers through following you. If you want to have some [amazingly relevant] recommendations then follow MrTweet.

Further Interviews

I’ve interviewed a whole host of other Internet gurus over the past few weeks including Guy Kawasaki, Tim O’Reilly, ProBlogger, Smashing Magazine and Chris Coyier so don’t forget to check them out.

Be sure and follow me at @paddydonnelly if you want to find out first about the next exciting Twitter interview.