Discovering The Tao of Twitter

Earlier this week I read The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Your Business 140 Characters at a Time by Mark Schaefer, which neatly summed up all that I had been trying to figure out on my own for the past several months with regard to maximizing the Twitter experience. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to not only learn more about Twitter, but for anyone who wants to understand its practical application for business.

Below is a short interview with the author, Mark Schaefer, who is a marketing consultant, blogger, Rutgers University marketing professor, and the author of two best selling marketing books. He was recently named by Forbes magazine as a “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer” of the world. (Begin the video at 2 minutes and 40 seconds to hear specifically about the book.)

The reason I liked The Tao of Twitter so much is because it really resonated with me. Schaefer drives home the point that Twitter is not something you can be easily taught or convinced to use without first experiencing it for yourself and discovering the way on your own. And for businesses that are bent on measuring financial ROI, there is no straightforward or simple, universal mathematical calculation one can follow to overarchingly quantify the “return” on Twitter as it relates to a specific user and their own unique business fundamentals. Perhaps this why we’re seeing such court battles play out in real time with regard to who (employee or company) actually “owns” a Twitter account and its followers?

What is the Tao of Twitter?

Twitter is more than just about saying whatever you can come up with in 140 characters or less. Rather, it’s about embracing a new style of communication where like-minded thinkers can aggregate naturally by focusing on providing relevant content that draws people in to connect as opposed to using the system as a medium for pushing out content that is not valuable. He writes:

Think about Twitter followers like atoms flying around inside of a chemist’s tube, bumping into each other randomly. Obviously, the more atoms you have a in a tube, the better your chances are a reaction will occur! But every chemical reaction needs a catalyst, and on Twitter that catalyst is meaningful content. Content is the currency of the social web and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits.

In the first few chapters of the book, Schaefer shares his own experience with Twitter and ultimately led to his “aha” moment. He spells out his pattern for relationship-building, which has in part helped him get to where he is today as a most-successful marketing consultant with such clients as AT&T, Cisco, and Johnson & Johnson, among others.

Within the first year of using Twitter, Schaefer successfully formed mutually beneficial relationships that resulted in business growth, new strategic partnerships, and an invitation to a party in Paris that linked him to international connections. While at first these “intangibles” may seem difficult to quantify, it is important to remember that its these intangible assets that make up the essence of brand value: 83% of a company’s market value today is represented by their intangible assets (brands, quality processes, relationships, etc.) compared to 1975, when it stood at only 17%.

My Personal Experience

When I first joined Twitter, my mission was to find relevant people to follow who were sharing stellar content relating to business and marketing. At the same time, I tried to focus on the quality of posts I was sharing on my own blog as opposed to getting caught up in worrying about what other people would think or what other people might want to read about. Within a relatively short period of time, I suddenly noticed individuals following me in the marketing industry who had found me based on the content I was writing about. What’s more, my Twitter stream quickly became my go-to source for real-time marketing news.

And here’s the neat part: after a few short months of using Twitter, I wrote a post about ski resort marketing that was picked up by none other than Mark Schaefer himself who then asked if I would be interested in doing a guest post about the topic on his blog. The conversation went something like this:

Could this be the Tao of Twitter in action? You be the judge.

Now it’s your turn: how has using Twitter led to either personal or business growth for you? What relationships have you formed as a result of using Twitter? What economic value have you uncovered?


  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they “don’t like Twitter,” or completely write it off as a viable platform in communicating their message(s). I felt the same way when I first started using it, but now realize its great potential. Great post!

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